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Survival guide: 6 ways to beat performance anxiety

In this column called Survival Guide, Dr Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, explains how speaking in public or performing in front of an audience can make people nervous

education Updated: Mar 15, 2016 18:53 IST
Dr Samir Parikh
performance anxiety

The more you rehearse, the more confident you would be about your ability to speak confidently. (Imagesbazaar)

It is very common to feel anxious, especially in situations in which we are expected to perform well. These situations could include speaking in public, performing in front of an audience.

While this could be related to stage fright, it is not restricted to actual performances. It could also occur in situations where the person is simply anticipating some kind of evaluation by another.

Some points to keep in mind while dealing with performance anxiety are:

Pay attention to non-verbal communication: Maintain eye contact and have an upright posture. Your body language and gestures should show how confident you are when dealing with performance anxiety. You can practice these skills in front of a mirror.

Practice: The more you rehearse, the more confident you will be about your ability to speak confidently. Further, it helps to simulate the final situation as much as possible. Prepare yourself, and do not hesitate to try it out with your friends or a known audience beforehand.

Don’t avoid the performance: When we are anxious, we tend to escape from the situation. However, it is important to remember that avoiding the situation will only add to the fear.

Understand the physical symptoms: Anxiety has various physical manifestations which could vary from individual to individual. Therefore, it’s important to make a note of these physical changes, for example, perspiration, numbness, nausea, cold sweats, hot flushes, etc. Furthermore, our awareness of these physical symptoms can help us gain control over them, as we become aware of these physical changes, gain control and regulate them more effectively.

Remember, it is natural to feel anxious: Almost all of us are likely to experience some form of anxiety in a situation which involves the pressure of being scrutinised or approved by others. However, repeated exposure and practice are the best ways to deal with them, instead of questioning the nature of the anxiety, or wishing to escape from the situation.

Seek professional help: Anxiety is likely to make us feel as if we are losing control over ourselves. In such situations of helplessness, we should not hesitate to seek the help of a mental health expert, including a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Read more: Survival guide: Reward yourself to stay motivated