Performance Anxiety

What is Performance Anxiety?

Performance anxiety is an intense fear of being judged negatively during a performance. It can affect anyone participating in a performance, from actors on stage to students completing a test. This fear can cause people to become very anxious and act differently than they usually do – ultimately hampering their performance.

Signs and Symptoms of Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety can manifest both mentally and physically. People experiencing performance anxiety can feel a range of emotions, including anxiety, fear, worry or feeling overwhelmed. Physically, they may experience nausea, headaches, trembling, dizziness, sweating, and difficulty sleeping.

Causes of Performance Anxiety

In some cases, the fear of failure or negative evaluation can result in a person declining to partake in the performance. Other causes may include worrying about being compared to others or lack of preparedness. Performance anxiety can also be caused by trauma, personality traits, or simply a lack of experience or practice.

Coping with Performance Anxiety

There are a range of strategies for managing performance anxiety:

  • Monitor thoughts - Practice mindfulness to become more aware of negative thoughts. Once aware, replace these thoughts with positive ones.
  • Develop performance skills - A lack of performance skills can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Working with a coach can help build these skills and increase comfort.
  • Engage with activities - Identifying activities, such as sports and music, which increase comfort can be helpful.Participating in these activities can help build positive associations with performing.
  • Rest and relax - Ensuring sufficient sleep and relaxation are crucial for managing anxiety. During performance, pausing for a few minutes can help improve focus and concentration.
  • Explore medication - Medication can be used in cases where the anxiety is very severe, or other coping strategies have not proven successful. Working with a doctor may be beneficial in ensuring a safe and monitored approach.