Grammy Award-winning singer, Adele suffers from performance anxiety.
In a Rolling Stones interview Adele reveals:
I’m scared of audiences,” she says. “I get shitty scared. One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. But I don’t like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.“ 1
Performance anxiety’s caused by a combination of three things 2:
- Feeling inadequate in your ability to perform to your own expectations
- Falling short of your ability to perform up to other people’s expectations of you
- Worrying about physical injury and/ or death
You might not share the same stage as Adele, but you too must perform – at work, in school, or in sports. And, knowing how to channel your nerves will help you perform your best.
Reducing Performance Anxiety
Experiencing performance anxiety isn’t fun. But, here are two ways to reduce its negative impact on your performance.
Step One: Mental Imagery
Imagine yourself in your situation using specific details. Your sense of sight, sound, feel, and smell contributes to creating powerful imagery. Do this during your preparation and right before your performance.
Canadian swimmer Alex Baumann credits his use of imagery to help win Olympic gold medals and set world records.
In an interview with Terry Orlick, Ph.D., he details:
The best way I have learned to prepare mentally for competitions is to visualize the race in my mind and to put down a split time.
The splits I use in my imagery are determined by my coach and me for each part of the race. For example, in the 200 individual medley, splits are made up for each 50 meters because after 50 meters the stroke changes. These splits are based on training times and what we feel I am capable of doing.
In my imagery, I conentrate on attaining the splits I have set out to do.
About 15 minutes before the race I always visualize the race in my mind and “see” how it will go. I see where everybody else is, and then I really focus on myself.
I do not worry about anybody else. I think about my own race and nothing else. I try to get those splits in my mind, and after that I am ready to go.
That is what really got me the world record and Olympic medals….I started visualizing six years before the Olympics. My visualization has been refined more and more as the years went on.
I see myself swimming the race before the race really happens, and I try to be on the splits. I am really swimming the race. In my mind I go up and down the pool, rehearsing all parts of the race, visualizing how I actually feel in the water. 3
Step Two: Find and Watch Videos of Professionals
Because YouTube is PRODUCTIVE.
In The Inner Game of Tennis, Timothy Gallwey writes about two opposing selves within us -Self 1 and Self 2.
Self 1, the ‘teller’ instructs, gives detailed feedback, and judgement.
Self 2, the ‘doer’, includes the unconscious mind and nervous system. Tapping into Self 2 requires us to silence Self 1.
Here’s what to do to get the most out of watching videos of professionals 4:
Allow yourself to focus on and absorb whatever most interests you about the movements of the pro you are watching.
Self 2 will automatically pick up elements that are useful and discard what isn’t.
Allow the natural learning process to lead you to play around and it will use what it can of the “hints” pick up in observation of the pro.
There you have it! Two steps to turn your performance anxiety into positive energy. I’d love to know what you’ve done to help reduce your nerves. What’s worked for you? Leave a comment below!
Adele: Inside Her Private Life and Triumphant Return, Brian Hiatt