When you have to speak or present in public, whether it’s a lecture, asking a question in a room full of people or just a toast, do you feel any of the following:
- Sweaty palms
- Butterflies or churning in the stomach
- Accelerated heart rate
- Memory loss
- Fear of memory loss
- Difficulty in breathing
- Dry mouth
If you feel any of these symptoms then you are suffering from what an actor would call ‘Stage Fright’ or PERFORMANCE ANXIETY.
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious. Even the most experienced speakers and performers feel anxious when speaking in front of a group of people. Many famous presenters have freely admitted to nervousness and stage fright.
Mark Twain said it best: “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars”.
At Craft of Communication, our theatre background gives us experience with the tried and tested techniques to help deal with the problem of Performance Anxiety. We can help you understand why it happens and then give you exercises and strategies to overcome your fear, and reduce the symptoms.
Adopting positive breathing patterns can immediately reduce the level of stress and tension in the body. It can help stir you away from the negative patterns of behaviour and thinking that can occur prior to and during anxiety attacks.
It engages your attention to something tangible, calming and empowering at a time when you normally feel out of control. This can prevent you being a victim of the attack.
Unfortunately, we pay little attention to the importance of breathing correctly in everyday life. As babies and young children, we breathed deeply and freely with our entire body. As adults, we get into negative behaviour patterns that result in the body forgetting how to breathe properly.
These negative patterns are induced by sedentary work environments and lifestyles, coupled with the stress of busy lives. All this can condition us to fast, shallow breathing.
This type of breathing confines the breath to our upper chest and can ultimately undermine our health. It is a ‘Fight or Flight’ breathing pattern that can decrease our vitality and compromise our ability to appropriately cope with mental, physical and emotional stress.
Our breathing exercises change this breathing pattern, slowing it and deepening it. This begins a process that leads to reduced anxiety, greater vitality and strengthening the body’s ability to manage stressful situations with calm and controlled energy.
“When the breath is disturbed the mind is disturbed. When the breath is calm, the mind becomes steady.”
Hatha Yoga Pradipika.