Performance anxiety is that persistent sense of dread that accompanies any opportunity to step in front of an audience and make a fool of yourself. But can performance anxiety be cured? There’s no fooling around this anxiety, either — it’s as real as it is universal. In fact, some experts believe that performance anxiety is actually a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder rather than a result of poor performance.
No matter how you categorize it, performance anxiety is no joke. Most of us feel it from time to time, but a small minority experience it chronically. The good news is that performance anxiety doesn’t last — it’s something you can learn to handle. Here’s everything you need to know about performance anxiety, its symptoms, causes, treatments, and more.
- 1 What is performance anxiety? fear about one’s ability to perform a specific task
- 2 How does performance anxiety develop?
- 3 The symptoms of performance anxiety
- 4 Causes of performance anxiety:
- 5 Types of performance anxiety
- 6 How to cure performance anxiety
- 7 Final words: Is performance anxiety real?
- 8 FAQs
What is performance anxiety? fear about one’s ability to perform a specific task
Performance anxiety is the fear of being scrutinized and judged when performing in front of an audience. It’s that persistent sense of dread that accompanies any opportunity to step in front of an audience and make a fool of yourself.
Performance anxiety can be caused by many different things, but it’s most often attributed to 3 factors:
- A lack of confidence
- Unrealistic expectations
- Inadequate preparation
There are many possible causes for performance anxiety, including a lack of confidence, unrealistic expectations, and inadequate preparation. These are just a few examples.
What type of anxiety is performance anxiety?
The term “performance anxiety” is often used synonymously with social anxiety disorder. Although they are closely related, they are not the same.
Performance anxiety is a specific type of social phobia, which means that it is a fear of social situations, including meeting people and performing in front of others. Social phobia is a generalized fear or dread that one will be embarrassed or humiliated in social situations.
It differs from other types of phobias because it does not have an object; for example, performance anxiety could be triggered by any situation that would cause embarrassment.
How does performance anxiety develop?
Performance anxiety is born of a twofold fear: one, the fear of failing, and two, the fear of being embarrassed. As a result, it’s something that can derail you from taking action at all.
It’s natural for people to experience some level of performance anxiety before a big event (especially if it’s their first time), but in those cases, it usually goes away once you step on stage. If you find yourself feeling this way regularly — or if it never really goes away at all — you may need help with an underlying anxiety disorder.
The symptoms of performance anxiety
Performance anxiety is characterized by a feeling of dread, and it can manifest in many different ways. For one thing, performance anxiety makes you think more about what you’re going to say or do, which causes your mind to go blank. In addition, people who experience chronic performance anxiety often have a hard time controlling their voice or are highly self-critical when they make a mistake.
Performance anxiety can manifest in a number of ways. Some people feel an adrenaline rush before they speak in front of an audience. Others experience shaking hands and nausea. Still others get tunnel vision and forget what they wanted to say.
Regardless of the symptoms, performance anxiety is typically accompanied by feelings of dread and self-doubt. It’s not just the act of performing that triggers these feelings — it’s anything that might result in public scrutiny, like taking a test or doing a presentation at work. Performance anxiety also tends to worsen over time without treatment, so it’s important to take care of it right away.
What does performance anxiety feel like?
Performance anxiety is the persistent sense of dread that accompanies an opportunity to step in front of an audience and make a fool of yourself. It may manifest itself as extreme fear leading to sweaty hands, a racing pulse, nausea, and a trembling voice. What’s scary about performance anxiety is that it doesn’t just affect the person onstage. Audience members also suffer from what’s known as vicarious anxiety.
It’s as real as it is universal. In fact, some experts believe that performance anxiety is actually a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder rather than a result of poor performance. No matter how you categorize it, though, performance anxiety doesn’t last — it’s something you can learn to handle. Here’s everything you need to know about performance anxiety and its signs, symptoms, causes and treatment options.
Causes of performance anxiety:
Performance anxiety is caused by being concerned with the way their peers or superiors are judging them, negative thoughts, fear of getting a negative evaluation or criticism, fear of being ridiculed, and the way in which they are feeling judged.
Performance anxiety causes a number of symptoms. Most people experience these symptoms before or during a performance: Trouble concentrating, getting lost in thought, increased heart rate, dry mouth and palms, difficulty breathing and swallowing, trembling voice or hands, sweaty palms, nausea and dizziness. These symptoms often become worse as the performance continues.
The key to handling performance anxiety is identifying its triggers. These can be external factors like an audience member who seems skeptical of your ability to perform well (or just plain mean) or internal factors like concern with how you are being judged by your peers or superiors. Once you know what triggers your anxiety, you’ll be able to manage it better — when you see that trigger coming up again in real life or on social media, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this too shall pass.
What triggers performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety is caused primarily by negative thoughts about the performance—and those thoughts can take various forms. For some people, it’s a fear of forgetting something important or making a mistake in front of an audience. For others, it’s the anticipation that the performance will go poorly and they won’t be able to do anything about it.
In any case, it usually starts long before you even step onto the stage or walk into the boardroom. It can show up as low-grade stomach ache, chest pain, tightness in your throat, shaky hands––even teary eyes and trouble breathing. And as soon as you feel these symptoms start to appear, your self-doubt kicks in: “If I am this anxious now, how will I ever perform well?”
Types of performance anxiety
Performance anxiety is a form of social anxiety. Social anxiety is a fear of being judged in social settings, which often leads to avoidance behaviors and withdrawal from those settings. Performance anxiety, then, is the extreme form of social anxiety.
There are two types of performance anxiety: generalized and specific. Generalized performance anxiety is the feeling that you’re under constant scrutiny; it can affect any setting or situation where you feel like others are watching your every move. Specific performance symptoms include an intense feeling of dread before or during a performance, which can be related to a specific type of performance — public speaking, for example.
How to cure performance anxiety
Performance anxiety is often considered a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder. It’s something you can learn to handle, but there’s no quick fix. However, there are a few things that you can do to make it easier on yourself:
1. Practice your speech in front of a mirror or silently.
2. Write down exactly what you want to say beforehand and practice reading it out loud by using the voice-to-text function on your phone.
3. Put together a list of words and phrases you could use if you get off track during your speech (e.g., “I’ll be happy to answer that question after I finish my talk,” “That’s an interesting point,” or “Thank you for your question”).
4. Practice speaking with someone who gives constructive criticism instead of just telling you how great everything was at the end of each sentence.
5. Focus on being able to speak rather than worrying about how well you’re doing – this will take some time but will help alleviate performance anxiety in the long run.
Using CBT for performance anxiety
One way to deal with performance anxiety is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people learn how to change negative thoughts and behaviors by identifying patterns in their thinking, understanding them, and changing them. CBT has been proven effective for people who have high levels of anxiety and stress.
CBT works on the principle that our thoughts affect our feelings, which affect our behaviors, so if we change the way we think about something we will also change the way we behave in response to it. One tool used for this purpose is called “the laddering technique.”
The laddering technique works like this:
- Step 1: Write down your goal at the very top of a sheet of paper — be very specific about what you want to fix or improve.
- Step 2: Write down all the positive things that come from achieving your goal below it (e.g., I will be more confident)
- Step 3: Then write down all the things that could go wrong if you achieve your goal (e.g., I may become arrogant)
- Step 4: In order to overcome performance anxiety and get back onto the stage where you belong
Does morning exercise help with anxiety?
If you’re feeling anxious, the first thing you should do is exercise.
Exercise soothes the soul, and it’s an extremely underrated tool for helping to heal anxiety. So if you’re feeling anxious, the first thing you should do is exercise.
Morning or evening? Exercise can be helpful for reducing anxiety at any time of the day. The key is to find a time that works best for your body clock, which in turn will help reduce symptoms of insomnia and provide better mood and energy levels throughout the day.
Is it just about physical activity? There’s a lot more to it than that. Exercise also helps release natural endorphins that boost your mood and improve your sense of self-worth. And if you don’t want to spend hours at the gym, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate movement into your routine — like taking a dance class or playing soccer with friends on the weekend.
How do you relieve sexual performance anxiety?
The best way to address your male performance anxiety is to be open with your partner, get intimate in other ways, distract yourself, and get therapy.
If you are feeling performance anxiety and it’s affecting your relationship, the best thing to do is to talk about it with your partner. This can help both of you understand what needs to change for you to feel more in control. It also helps them understand how they can help you feel better about this. Your partner may be able to offer some insights that could make all the difference for your relationship.
If being intimate with your partner isn’t enough and you find yourself feeling anxious in other ways during sex, try exploring other types of intimacy that don’t involve intercourse or oral sex. Foreplay and cuddling are two great ways to relieve sexual tension without the pressure of intercourse. If you’re feeling anxious about sex because of past trauma, these forms of intimacy will allow you to work through those feelings without triggering a panic attack — which is a possibility when getting close during intercourse or oral sex.
Distractions can also be effective in dealing with performance anxiety. Whether it’s exercising (make sure it’s a healthy type that doesn’t make you more anxious) or just painting nails (or doing another simple task), distractions can help take the spotlight off of sex if the pressure of the situation is making things worse.
Best Medications for performance anxiety
For some people, performance anxiety is an acute fear that comes and goes based on external circumstances. For others, however, it’s a chronic condition that’s difficult to live with. In the latter case, it can be helpful to take medications. One type of medication you may want to consider is beta-blockers. They can be a powerful tool to calm the nerves and reduce the jitters that detract from performance.
Beta-blockers for anxiety work by interfering with the body’s release of adrenaline before and during stressful events, which reduces both physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety, like muscle tension, sweating, and racing heart rate. Some research suggests they have a significant effect in alleviating performance anxiety too — one study found that propranolol (a beta-blocker) reduced stage fright in musicians who took part in an audition by over 50 percent!
Does anxiety medication help with performance anxiety?
Yes, Xanax is a drug that can be taken for performance anxiety. It is often one of the first treatment options for this type of anxiety. Performance anxiety can be caused by an underlying anxiety disorder, but it’s not always related to any psychiatric condition. Anxiety medication can help ease symptoms when taken on an “as-needed” basis.
Xanax is also popularly used to treat panic disorders — in this case, it would probably be taken daily as opposed to just when there are symptoms of performance anxiety. Xanax is classified as a benzodiazepine which is generally well-tolerated with few short-term side effects and no risk of addiction or withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to taking Xanax, you should make sure your environment is stress-free and comfortable before going on stage. You should try counting slowly from one to ten before you step onstage so you don’t feel like you have too much time to think about what could go wrong. If all else fails, try practicing in front of a mirror so you know what it looks like when things go smoothly.
Final words: Is performance anxiety real?
The thing that sets performance anxiety apart from other types of anxiety is its connection to the performance. It’s not just worrying about a test, job interview, or presentation — it’s the fear of screwing up in front of an audience.
Performance anxiety is real, but it can be treated by learning how to deal with the pressure and stress you feel when you have to perform in public.
How do I know if I have performance anxiety?
One of the signs of performance anxiety is when you feel a sense of dread about performing. You may also find that your stomach is in knots, your heart is racing, or you’re sweating profusely.
Can sexual performance anxiety go away?
Yes, sexual performance anxiety can go away with time in some people. If you want to overcome your performance anxiety and not feel that sense of dread before you speak in front of your partner, then it’s important to understand what causes this feeling and how to deal with it.
Can performance anxiety be cured?
Performance anxiety can be cured by addressing and treating the underlying cause of the disorder. In some cases, this means taking medication that regulates serotonin levels. Additionally, you can use hypnotherapy to address past trauma and work on changing your thought patterns.
What are the symptoms of performance anxiety?
The symptoms of performance anxiety include a persistent sense of dread before performing, nausea, rapid heart rate, and profuse sweating during performances. The symptoms usually manifest in three stages:
-Pre-performance jitters: Those first butterflies you feel before you take the stage.
-Performance debilitation: The state of panic and confusion that kicks in when your body runs out of adrenaline and your blood sugar levels plummet, making it difficult to maintain your focus.
-Post-performance shame: The sense of regret you feel after you’ve performed and realize what you could have done better.
How can I relax my brain from anxiety?
The first step to curing performance anxiety is practicing self-care. You need to take care of yourself and your body by getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet. You can also use breathing exercises for relaxation, soak in a warm bath, or listen to soothing music. Practice mindful meditation or guided imagery, or find an escape like writing or having sex. There are so many ways you can relax your brain from anxiety.
Do all performers experience performance anxiety?
No, not all performers experience performance anxiety. Anxiety can be a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder rather than a result of poor performance.