A Quick Way to Zap Performance Anxiety
Once I was on stage feeling just great, about to sing a well-rehearsed song. Then I put my hand to my heart and felt it pounding in my chest. I was amazed to find that I was nervous and panicked. I was experiencing performance anxiety. That night I learned two important lessons about stage fright: It’s possible to slow down your heart rate by breathing deeply, which will make you feel better, and don’t put your hand anywhere near your heart while singing or speaking in front of an audience.
We posted about this earlier this year but are writing about it again since breathing is often both the problem and the answer when presenting. I recommend a great online resource, http://www.normalbreathing.com. There are lots of breathing exercises on the site plus the interesting observation that many health problems arise from hyperventilation, which is the result of too much oxygen. What we all need is some deep, slow breathing and CO2 to stay healthy. In addition, slow breathing allows us to Keep Calm and Carry On. Goodbye performance anxiety!
Here’s how to do it – Deep or “Slowed” Breathing
A long hold cycle will change the carbon dioxide/oxygen ratio and slow your heart rate and calm you down. To do this, sit or stand still with your shoulders down from your ears, your back straight and your pelvis in a neutral position if standing. Breathe in on a slow count of 4, exhale on 4 counts…repeat 5 times. Breathe normally, then repeat the long hold cycle 5 times more.
For more on this topic, please see our post on our blog Three steps to create a super voice for vocal marathons.
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