Many times we can’t help but admire our Hollywood heroes. Perhaps admire is not the right word. We tend to look to them as heroes. Wait, still not right. Ah yes, we elevate them to the status of gods. Yes, gods. They seem to be a species spawned on Mt Olympus from the seed of Zeus himself, and as such, they are flawless. Or are they? When you get them you will discover that they are just like you and I, and that they suffer from one of the most common fears known to man.
If you don’t believe me, ask Adele. Or Rihanna. Or Rod Stewart. Or… Okay, I guess I’ve made my point.
What is Stage fright?
In simple terms, stage fright is the fear of making public performances and is sometimes called performance anxiety. Clinically, it is called glossophobia. But whatever you may choose to call it, the disorder is said to affect a massive 75% of the population. Perhaps it’s this prevalence that make us laugh it over. But stage fright is really no laughing matter. It can be a crippling disorder that can render a person ineffective and unproductive.
Stage Fright – Causes and Symptoms
Stage fright is more of a psychological disorder that stems from 2 main, and surprisingly opposite, spectrums of a person’s psychological makeup.
1. Lack of Confidence
This is the biggest cause of stage fright – the feeling of not being good enough.
Sometimes, stage fright stems from being a perfectionist. When things are not the way you want them to be, anxiety strikes – leading to fear of making public performances.
No matter the cause of the performance anxiety, the symptoms are similar in every individual. These may include (but not limited to) physical symptoms like a dry mouth or throat, sweaty palms, vomiting, and even diarrhea in some cases. Stage fright may also have emotional symptoms like panic attacks, feeling embarrassed, or racing thoughts.
How to Conquer Stage Fright
Although glossophobia affects everyone differently, there are some common ways to overcome it that are known to work quite well. If you are a victim, here’s what to do if you have stage fright.
1. Learn Some Relaxation Techniques
The underlying cause of stage fright is tension. And one great way to cure the condition is to get rid of that tension by using relaxation techniques. If you have a routine that helps you relax, do it before a performance.
2. Breathing Exercises
One effect of stage fright is the constriction of blood vessels going to the brain. This is what causes dizziness and delayed response. Breathing exercises are a great way to conquer this performance anxiety as they help feed your brain with the much-needed oxygen the constriction deprived it off.
3. Watch Your Diet
Some foods contribute to heightened sensitivity while others over-stimulate the brain, increasing your chances of getting “the jitters”. Avoid beverages and foods that contain caffeine, alcohol, and sugar before a performance.
4. Practice Positive Thinking
One technique that has helped many overcome stage fright is practicing positive thinking. This is a habit where you only focus on positive thoughts and events and refuse to dwell on negative ones. This helps your body to generate feel-good hormones like serotonin which helps keep you in a constant positive and upbeat mood. The good thing about feeling good is that it also boosts your confidence.
5. Have an Ice-Breaking Ritual
Whether you are performing in front of a live audience or a camera, it’s always good to have an ice-breaking ritual or exercise. It can be anything from a verbal routine (like speaking affirmations over yourself), physical exercise, or if you’re performing before an audience, a joke or anything that can connect you to your audience.
6. Use Medication – Beta Blockers
Beta blockers are medications that reduce your blood pressure by countering the effects of adrenaline. Stage fright, and any other fright causes the body to release adrenaline in preparation of a defensive reaction. The release of adrenaline causes high blood pressure and heightened excitement. Beta-blockers counter this effect and help you feel relaxed.
Victory Over Stage Fright is Possible – And it’s Your Choice
If you suffer from stage fright, victory is very possible. You don’t have to let it control and ruin your life. Take charge, take control, and live life on your terms by conquering stage fright using the methods mentioned above or any other you discover.