I had a friend who performs sword swallowing. He tells people before he puts the sword in his mouth that he does this to get rid of the butterflies in his stomach before he performs.
Now, this might be a stretch for most of us. Especially those of us who can’t swallow a sword to help get rid of the butterflies.
But it raises an interesting question. How do you deal with nerves? Performance anxiety. Stage fright.
Stage Fright / Performance Anxiety definition:
“nervousness before or during an appearance before an audience.”
“extreme nervousness experienced before or during participation in an activity taking place in front of an audience. “
It’s enough to put a lot of performers off! I’m as yet to find a “cure”, but I can share some of my coping mechanisms for how to not let the “butterflies” affect your performance.
- Rehearse and train for a higher level than you plan to perform.
This allows for your nerves to not bring your performance down.
- Find a ritual that tells your body that it’s safe.
Rituals can help prepare your mind and help you relax, which will help you be less anxious when the curtain lifts.
- Be OK with being nervous.
Sometimes just acknowledging that you’re nervous is enough to help change things. You can be comfortable with the uncomfortable and knowing that you are nervous is the first part of this.
One day, I asked my sword swallowing friend what he really did to get rid of his performance anxiety. He told me that he doesn’t. He loves the thrill of getting up and performing and wouldn’t have it any other way. And neither would I.