Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety refers to persistent phobia that individuals may experience when they are required to perform in front of someone – particularly in front of an audience or crowd. This anxiety may be marked by fear that precedes or accompanies participation in activity that requires public self presentation. This form of anxiety is often observed in public performers like musicians or athletes. Sometimes refereed to as “pre-performance jitters” the anxiety can be especially pronounced in some individuals and may prevent them from achieving their best:

In many cases the fear is experienced in anticipation of the performance and the manifestation of the anxiety may include pounding or fluttering of the heart, tremors in the legs or hands, facial nerve tics, diarrhea and dry mouth. Such performance anxiety can affect beginners as well as seasoned professionals.

In many cases performance anxiety starts off with some distraction and following this individuals find it difficult to concentrate. This may result in memory lapses, general discomfort, nervousness and technical errors along with fear of performing. Through certain techniques and methods those suffering from anxiety can reduce the stage fright.

Performance anxiety can adversely affect the performance quality at many levels including job interviews, examinations and athletic performances. To reduce the possibility of anxiety in these situations it is important to reduce the amount the power that we invest in others with respect to their evaluation of the performance. Such reduction in power can reduce the anxiety.

Performance anxiety can also be reduced by eliminating or reducing the imagination of negative possibilities. While a negative outcome may occur it does not mean that this outcome should be imagined before it occurs. It is advisable instead to focus on the present as against the future. Enjoying the process of performance instead of focusing on the goal can help in enjoying the moment instead of concentrating on the end.

Uncertainty also plays a part in people experiencing performance anxiety. So keeping the attention focused on the performance as against other’s judgments can help in reducing the anxiety. Before the actual performance it also helps to remind yourself of your hard work. Self judgment should also be avoided as it tends to take individuals away from the present to the past and the future and may destroy the flow of the thoughts.

Meditation or deep breathing exercises before the performance along with stretching exercises can help in the performance itself. In some extreme cases of performance anxiety beta blockers can be prescribed to get relief from the physical symptoms or effects of the fight or flight mechanism of the body.

These beta blockers are not sedatives and they are not effective where the anxiety is of psychological nature. The beta receptors are located in several places within the body including the lung, heart, arteries, uterus and the brain. These beta blockers fit within the beta receptors and prevent binding mechanism of norepinephrine with the receptors. This prevents the symptoms of the fight or flight mechanism.

However use of beta blockers to treat performance anxiety can result in decreased heart contractions, decreased heart rate and blood pressure and less tremor as well as relief from migraines. The effect of these beta blockers are experienced in one or one and half hours.

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