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How to Deal with Performance Anxiety

How to Deal with Performance Anxiety

Do you get sweaty palms and a racing heart before giving a talk or performing in front of others? We’ve all been there. No matter how confident you are, there are times when the pressure can get to your head. Learn how to deal with performance anxiety here.

What is performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety or stage fright is a fairly common occurrence. It may occur due to a fear of failing or appearing incompetent in front of peers. Oftentimes, stage fright is experienced while speaking in front of strangers. However, performance anxiety can even occur in one-on-one interactions or by yourself (e.g. sexual performance anxiety, test anxiety).

Although stage fright is common, it causes many people to skip special events or avoid new opportunities. In addition, severe performance anxiety may be a symptom of a generalized or social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

How to Overcome Anxiety Triggers

Signs and symptoms of performance anxiety

  • Cold sweats
  • Shaking or jitters
  • Mannerisms such as pacing, tapping, or nail-biting
  • Upset stomach or belching
  • Vomiting
  • Urge to urinate
  • Feeling a sense of dread, fear, or pressure

Common situations that cause performance anxiety

  • Giving a report or speech
  • Performing in front of a crowd
  • Doing a job interview
  • Participating in a spelling bee or quiz bee
  • Taking a board exam or entrance exam
  • Being offered a promotion

How to deal with performance anxiety

Learning how to deal with performance anxiety may be hard but it is not impossible. Firstly, having a support group or a trusted friend can help ease stress. Being prepared and familiar with the venue is one way to reduce uncertainty and anxiety. However, for some people these might actually make stage fright worse.

While most people try to calm themselves down before a big event, studies have suggested that the opposite may be true. When we try to calm down, we tend to think of what could go wrong. However, when the participants of the studies were told to express excitement (“I am excited”) before tasks like speaking, test taking, and doing karaoke, they performed better.

Positive mental reframing and mindful meditation can help you attract the energy you need to put yourself in the right mood. Having a mantra or a pep talk before an event can give you a boost of confidence. In general, maintaining a healthy diet, regularly exercising, and getting enough sleep can do wonders for your physical and mental health. Avoid heavy meals and caffeine beforehand as these can make you feel worse.

When positive thinking and other stress relieving methods are not enough to ease anxiety, some doctors may prescribe medications. If you feel that your stage fright occurs too often or has stopped you from doing your normal activities, you may want to seek help from a therapist or psychologist.

Natural Remedies for Panic Attacks

Key takeaways

In summary, stage fright or performance anxiety is a common problem that many people face at some point. Learning how to deal with performance anxiety may take some time and trial and error, but you can overcome it. Staying positive and bring prepared are ways to stay confident and in control.

If you feel that your stage fright occurs too often or has stopped you from doing your normal activities, you may want to seek help from a therapist or psychologist.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Conquering Stage Fright https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder/treatment/conquering-stage-fright Accessed February 11, 2021 The Relationship Between Anxiety and Performance https://hbr.org/2014/01/the-relationship-between-anxiety-and-performance Accessed February 11, 2021 Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xge-a0035325.pdf Accessed February 11, 2021 Social Anxiety Disorder https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder Accessed February 11, 2021 The impact of anxiety upon cognition: perspectives from human threat of shock studies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3656338/ Accessed February 11, 2021
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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Feb 22