Although concerts, shows, and performances of all kinds were largely canceled this past year, when they do start back up, the idea of facing the anxiety associated with performing again may feel intimidating and overwhelming. The normal pre-show jitters and post-show adrenaline may become amplified as many artists have not been able to play in front of crowds for quite some time. Although the timeline of when shows will start back up is uncertain, keeping in mind these healthy coping strategies can help you when it is time to get back on the stage.
Even though substance use has been normalized by artists in order to numb performance anxieties and give them a sense of confidence, this can lead to addiction and damaged health. It can also hinder the quality of an artist’s performance. Even the most practiced performers and most famous artists still feel nervous before a show, so you are in good company about feeling nervous before a show. However, resorting to alcohol to calm these nerves can take away from your concentration, which can cause your performance to suffer. For singers, it can also dry out or damage vocal cords. Here are some healthy tips to keep in mind when dealing with anxiety and adrenaline before shows.
Knowing you have the music memorized or your lines well-rehearsed can help ease some of your nerves before performing. While this won’t eliminate the anxiety, at least you will find some comfort in knowing you came prepared. This allows you to trust yourself when the time comes to go on stage.
Practicing your material in front of smaller groups of people, such as friends, family, or small venues, can help you gradually build up to bigger performances. This can allow you to get a little more comfortable or used to being on stage if it’s your first time or if you’re getting back into it. This can also let you see how well the audience perceives your performance and make adjustments where needed.
Right before a show, it may help to watch videos of some of your favorite performers on stage who exude confidence and imagine yourself being that confident. Their enthusiasm may rub off on you and help you with your performance when you think of how much fun it looks like they are having up there. You can also look back at videos of yourself performing and note what you did well and what you would like to do better or differently and allow yourself time to practice those changes. However, this is not recommended to do right before a show. It is essential to be careful with this and not be too self-critical. We are our own worst critics, so try to be as objective as possible.
Dispel Excess Adrenaline
Sometimes adrenaline is a good thing. However, too much can be unhealthy. If you find you cannot stop shaking or tapping your foot, try doing some jumping jacks, shaking out your limbs, jogging in place, or some form of quick exercise that can help expel some of that excess energy, calm you down, and also warm up your body.
Breathe, Meditate, Visualize
Shallow, short, and quick breaths are characteristics of anxiety. By slowing down your breathing and taking deeper breaths, you can slow down your heart rate and begin to feel calmer. You can try finding a private place where you can sit comfortably and close your eyes. Concentrating on your breath and being present in the moment can allow your thoughts to come and go as you continue focusing on your breaths. Notice how the air fills your lungs upon inhaling and how it slowly releases upon exhaling. Let your thoughts, emotions, and other sensations be in the background while your awareness stays centered on your breathing. Once your breathing has calmed, it can be helpful to continue meditating and visualizing positive things. Visualizing yourself succeeding on stage can be more useful than filling your thoughts with negative self-talk.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
Before a performance, your body is already flooded with adrenaline. Drinking too much coffee will only increase your jitters. Sipping on some non-caffeinated tea or water will help hydrate without causing your heart rate to jump.
Let Go and Have Fun
After you feel you have done all you can to prepare, let go and remember why you are doing this. Simply having fun can help you enjoy the moment. You will be able to enjoy the creativity and the audience as well. By being present, you are not demanding perfection from yourself, but you can appreciate the nuances of your performance and give yourself more freedom on the stage.
Even the most virtuous performers experience nerves before performing. Showing yourself some compassion, realizing that you are not alone in this, and remembering why you love performing can all help in calming you down. When it comes to the moments before a show, many artists may be used to grabbing a drink. However, there are many other healthy ways to deal with pre-show anxieties that don’t have wellness consequences. Shifting your focus from worrying about the unknown towards the things you can control, such as what you are thinking and what you are currently doing, can help ground you in the moment. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, Alta Centers is here to help. We understand the unique challenge of living both a healthy and creative life. Recovery does not have to mean the end of the road; It can be the start of authentic self-discovery. Call us at (888) 202-2583.