Performance anxiety is the feeling of worry or nervousness that you might not be able to do what you’re about to try. It’s normal to feel some nervousness about something new. But performance anxiety is something else entirely.
It’s the feeling that your performance is never going to be good enough, and it can have a negative impact on your life. But is it ever possible to cure performance anxiety? If yes, how should you go about doing it?
Do you dread going out on stage, games or any other social situation because you’re afraid you’ll make mistakes or people will think you’re weird? Maybe you feel this way because you suffer from performance anxiety. If you think you might be dealing with this, read on for some helpful tips and advice on how to cure your performance anxiety.
Let’s take a look at some of the possible reasons for your performance anxiety, and see whether you can take steps to reduce them.
What is performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety is the persistent sense of dread that accompanies any opportunity to step in front of an audience and make a fool of yourself.
It’s as real as it is universal: 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 isn’t a joke. Most of us feel it from time to time, but a small minority experience it chronically.
Performance anxiety is an extremely common fear, affecting as many as 20% of the population. This anxiety can be paralyzing, causing individuals to shy away from any opportunity that requires them to perform in front of others.
What are the causes of performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety can stem from a variety of sources. When you’re constantly measuring your performance against the highest standards, it’s inevitable that you feel some level of pressure to perform well on stage.
Thus, performers, athletes, public speakers and others who are in the public eye are more likely to experience chronic performance anxiety than others. This type of stress is also more common among those with shyness or social anxiety.
But performance anxiety can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as being unprepared for an event or lacking familiarity with the venue. For example, someone might experience a panic attack before giving a presentation at school if they haven’t been back since they graduated.
It’s important to note that these days social media has only made matters worse — many people now feel pressured to look perfect online (or at least present an idealized version of themselves).
What are the symptoms of performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety causes a stressed feeling in the chest, a dry mouth, and a tight throat. You may also feel shaky, sweaty, or faint.
Performance anxiety can cause physical symptoms like:
- A dry mouth
- Shaky hands
- Sweaty palms
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- A rapid heart beat
A sense of dread before and during performances
- Intense worry about mistakes you might make
- Relief when it’s over (sometimes replaced by feelings of shame)
How can you treat or manage performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety can be manageable — there are a number of treatments out there.
One of the most popular treatments is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches skills to manage negative thoughts and behaviors. These skills can be used before, during, and after an event to keep performance anxiety at bay. For example, if you’re feeling nervous before a presentation, CBT might teach you how to calm your nerves by distracting yourself with deep breathing or doing some stretching exercises.
Another treatment for performance anxiety is medication. If your anxiety is severe or chronic, it may be necessary for you to take some sort of substance to help you relax and perform better on stage.
Many people also find that their general lifestyle habits can have an effect on their performance anxiety levels. By making small changes in your life like exercising more often or getting enough sleep, you may notice that your performance anxiety decreases as well.
Which medications are the best for performance anxiety?
There are medications that you can take for performance anxiety. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best one for you. Propranolol and Xanax are two common drugs for this condition. However, there are other medications that your doctor might recommend if these don’t work.
Other doctors may recommend buspirone for anxiety management but you need to know the side effects. To note is that any medication for anxiety should be taken with doctor’s recommendation.
Performance anxiety is a type of anxiety that can affect anyone at any time. It can be debilitating, but with the right treatment and correct information, it doesn’t have to be.
The first step to managing performance anxiety is understanding what it is, which is why we’re giving you this article on the condition. Once you know more about the condition, you’ll be able to identify when you’re feeling it and what to do about it. And if you need medication, we’ve got a list of the most common options for treating performance anxiety.