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Three Signs Of Performance Anxiety And What Can Help

From presenting on Zoom to panicking during an exam and even parallel parking in front of onlookers can make you feel anxious. Choking under pressure or performance anxiety can occur in almost any stressful event where you worry about your ability.

So what are the most common signs of performance anxiety, and what can you do to help?

Three Signs Of Performance Anxiety

1.     Dissociation

This is where you feel entirely unconnected to your surroundings. In performance anxiety, you may present in front of others but have a complete mind blank about what you want to say; it’s like singing and forgetting the lyrics or playing music and forgetting what the notes are. As you think back to the event, it may feel unfamiliar or hazy.

What can help: Connecting to your surroundings. It can help to smile or make eye contact with one or two audience members as this can help your brain to see the audience as friends, which is less intimidating.

You may also want to spend time connecting to your space, feel grounded through your feet, notice how the air feels and if you’re holding notes, how do they feel?

2.     Rapid Breathing

Performance anxiety stimulates brain activity that puts you into fight-or-flight mode. This means your body is surging with adrenaline, which can lead to a rapid pulse or breathing.

What can help: For some people, working to slow down the breath with deep breathing can alleviate anxiety. With this, you allow more oxygen to circulate in the body, helping you think clearly and rationally to dissipate the anxiety.

It is important to practice a range of breathing techniques before the event so you know what works for you. Think of it as a toolkit of preparation.

In some cases, people may prefer to capitalise on this surge of adrenaline. Star jumps, jogging on the spot and shaking out your muscles can help you to capitalise on this positive energy and turn the adrenaline into feel-good dopamine and serotonin.

3.     Catastrophising

Another common sign of performance anxiety is focusing on everything that could go wrong and worrying about people’s judgement or criticisms. It may feel like you have to prove yourself to others. Alternatively, you may just run through countless disastrous scenarios which make your nerves even worse.

What can help: Visualise your success! Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, imagine that it is a great success. Prepare for the event by spending a few minutes each day visualising how you want it to go. If you need help with visualisation, read my blog posts, The Power of Visualisation and Advanced Visualisation.

Further Help With Performance Anxiety

If you need more support managing performance anxiety, then I’d love to help you. From Live Online Hypnotherapy once a month to bespoke 1:1 hypnotherapy sessions, I have a range of options to help you manage your anxiety. To find out what’s right for you, please book your free complimentary consultation by emailing

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