As a child, you may have experienced anxiety on show-and-tell Fridays. Your mother probably patted your head and told you everything was going to be fine. Despite a head pat, the feeling didn’t go away. Flash forward fifteen years, and you realize that you still get that same anxious feeling before a college presentation. If this looks something like your experience, you may have stage fright. Your educational journey and career path can be heavily affected by your stage fright. Keep reading to learn more about stage fright and how to overcome its symptoms.
What is Stage Fright?
Stage fright is the fear of speaking in front of people or any form of public speaking. Merriam Webster defines stage fright as “nervousness felt at appearing before an audience.” Stage fright is categorized in many ways. Some people refer to it as a social anxiety disorder, social phobia, performance anxiety, etc.
A social anxiety disorder, or a social phobia, is an anxiety disorder that occurs in social situations. Such as speaking in front of a crowd, job interviews, meeting new people, performing in front of others. Having a social phobia such as stage fright can make someone feel fearful of unknown reactions. For example, someone with stage fright may be deathly afraid of being judged or laughed at during a presentation.
Some people may experience mild nervousness or shyness before speaking in front of others; however, those with stage fright may feel extremely severe and upsetting symptoms. Stage fright can affect every aspect of a person’s daily life. Because of this, stage fright must be treated properly.
You can learn more about stage fright by reading professional articles on the BetterHelp website.
What are the Physical Symptoms of Stage Fright?
Despite being perceived as a mental health disorder, stage fright can cause a number of physical symptoms. For example, someone with this performance anxiety may experience a quickened heart rate and shallow, rapid breathing. Other physical symptoms can include dry mouth, tight throat, trembling, chills, headache, nausea, and tunnel vision.
When faced with public speaking, a person’s body enters into a fight or flight response; this elicits feelings of adrenaline and fear. The physical symptoms of stage fright can make someone feel the need to run away.
What are the Mental Symptoms of Stage Fright?
In addition to physical symptoms, an individual may experience mental and behavioral symptoms of stage fright as well. With the fight or flight response in mind, you may feel the urge to escape and hide. You may also feel confused and scared.
Brain fog is typical of people who have a fear of public speaking. This brain fog may cause some to make increasingly more mistakes in their performance, which may add to their anxiety. Stress and anxiety are the most common mental symptoms of stage fright.
What Causes Stage Fright?
There are various reasons that you may have stage fright. Those who already live with some form of a social anxiety disorder are likely to experience symptoms of stage fright.
Another reason that someone may have stage fright is low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is when a person lacks the confidence that is needed in everyday situations. For example, low self-esteem tricks a person into thinking that they will never succeed or they will never be good enough.
Fear of failure may also contribute to an individual’s stage fright. People that want to accomplish hefty goals and achieve every aspiration may be afraid of failing. This fear of failure can cause someone to freeze in the face of public speaking.
How to Overcome Stage Fright?
There are many tips and tricks to public speaking; however, can these tricks also help you overcome stage fright? The best thing you can do is to address your stage fright head-on. By admitting you have an issue with speaking in public, you can begin your overcoming journey.
A good start to conquering your stage fright is to practice! If you are presenting or playing a part in a play, practice your words and actions. It is best to practice these things out loud. Hearing your speech or lines in your voice can help prepare you for the future.
Another way to prepare for public speaking is positive self-talk. Remind yourself of all the good surrounding your event. For example, consider stating the following phrases to combat self-doubt:
“I am doing the best I can”
“I am safe where I am”
“I will be okay”
“This is only temporary”
To treat your physical symptoms, consider calming practices. Calming practices include yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and healthy routines.
Yoga and meditation are great resources for those that live with some form of anxiety. Yoga is known to reduce stress and improve a person’s overall health. By practicing yoga, you can train your body to relax on command. Several poses force the yogi to release overwhelming thoughts and put their focus on the mat.
Meditation and deep breathing teach people how to calm their mind and body quickly. There are many meditation techniques that you can try. Everyone works better with something different. For instance, an hour-long guided meditation routine may benefit you more than a ten-minute sensory deprivation routine. Meditation is the process of becoming aware of your mind and body. Once aware of your bodily state, you can slowly address concerning issues such as performance anxiety.
Deep breathing is another way to cure your stage fright symptoms. When you take the time to slowly inhale and exhale, you can slow your heart rate and breathing. You can practice deep breathing on your own or with the help of a medical professional. If you are new to deep breathing, it may benefit you to watch instructional videos from mental health professionals. On your own, you can use counting and focus to practice your deep breathing. Practice breathing from your diaphragm rather than your chest and count slowly to make sure you are adequately filling your lungs. A good rule of thumb is 7 seconds inhale, 4 seconds hold, 8 seconds exhale.
With these techniques, you can calm both your mind and your body. If you feel that no tip or trick is working for you, consider seeking help from a licensed counselor. A counselor or therapist can help you address the root of your stage fright and how to overcome it!
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