ARTISTS IN THE PLUS September 2013 - Page 17

How to cope with Stage Fright

Artists In The Plus Guide

Editor and Contributor- Meri Amber

Contributor- Myrna Braza

Contributor- Tom Strasser

Stage Fright

Have you ever had a performance written down on your calendar that gives you jitters? Have you ever stood backstage at a show feeling sick or dizzy at the thought of stepping on the stage? Have you been under stage lights, shaking and losing control of your breath as you try to put on a show?

Don't worry- you're not alone. Stage fright, or performance anxiety, is an extremely common phobia. So much so that more than 80% of people have experienced it in one way or another. Elvis Presley and Barbara Streisand have both admitted to struggling with it, but it didn't stop them from becoming the superstars they did.

Know that if you have stage fright it doesn't have to stop you on the road to your dream. There's a few simple things that you can do to take control and over time you can work your way through any anxieties that you have.

General Tips

Breathe

A good way to start is by doing a few breathing exercises. Try to breathe deeply dropping your diaphragm and letting air completely fill your lungs. It is this deep breathing that will calm you down (rather than high chesty breaths) and it also, conveniently, is the best sort of breathing to practice for singing too.

Relax

It’s easy to say “Relax!”, but much harder to actually obey yourself. Everyone has their own set of techniques that helps them relax. Some find that simple stretches work, others would recommend focus exercises or meditation. The trick is to find what has worked for you, either in similar performing situations or in other situations where you have been nervous.

Nourish

What you eat and drink has a lot to do with how you end up feeling. As a general rule of thumb, it’s not a good idea to have caffeine or stimulants before you perform if you know that you suffer from performance anxiety. It is a good idea to stay hydrated and drink water, but don’t drink too much or you’re going to end up needing to run to the bathroom!

Prepare

Anxiety feeds on uncertainty, so a great way to reduce anxiety is by reducing uncertainty. The best way to do this is by being organised, practicing what you are going to perform until you are reasonably confident and by making sure you’re ready to go well before the start of a performance.

Be Positive

Strangely when the last thing you feel like doing is smiling and laughing as you’re going through the motions of stage fright, finding the humour or positivity in the situation is actually the best way to help yourself forget your worry. Try to open up your mind to the situation, put the performance into perspective, think of your previous successes and remember that people aren’t expecting perfection.

Practice

The more you face your fears, the more you will begin to understand your anxiety and what works best for you personally to reduce your stress. By pushing yourself to perform more, you’ll find that over time you’ll be able to cope better and better.

- Meri Amber