If you are struggling with the problem of how to get rid of stage fright, welcome to the club! Did you know that the most talented performers in the world are almost always the ones who suffer the most from performance anxiety? It’s true. And finding relief means having a “can’t miss” plan of action, always handy in your hip pocket, for how to get rid of stage fright. So let’s pull you out of the quicksand of performance anxiety, starting now!
This post is a guide for how to get rid of stage fright.
Fight or Flight
This video is a good introduction to understanding what goes on in our bodies, when we suffer from stage fright. But you already know this: your heart rate speeds up, you begin breathing too fast, your palms sweat, and your mouth goes dry. Not exactly a barrel of laughs for any singer, right?!
This is all due to the fight or flight response, ingrained in our bodies since before the caveman era. It is a normal visceral reaction to perceived threat. A series of hormones is released, including adrenaline. And basically this is what causes the physical symptoms of panic. Our bodies prepare for the perceived threat, whether we choose “fight” or “flight.”
For any performer, but especially for a singer, these symptoms are a great big accident waiting to happen, totally counterproductive. For example, the dry mouth symptom alone is enough to ruin your singing performance. But any of the troubles caused by stage fright actually create the opposite circumstances we need to sing our best. And when the moment comes these symptoms begin to ruin our ruining singing, it’s already too late.
Passionflower for Anxiety
The herb called passionflower is a natural sedative. Some people do use it to help with different forms of anxiety, including stage fright. As usual, I run to my go-to medical information expert, Dr. Andrew Weil. Here is a short article about passionflower.
Please bear in mind this is a sedative, meaning that it could very well make you too sleepy. And passionflower could generally slow down your muscular responses needed for singing well.
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One way to get some benefits of passionflower, while diminishing adverse effects of the sedative, might be to use it for bathing or for aroma therapy, instead of drinking passionflower tea or using either the tincture or the capsules. If this remedy is interesting to you, please make sure and try it in advance of your singing performance. That way any unwanted side effects will be known, before they have a chance to interfere with your singing.
Also please remember there is a small chance you might be allergic to this herb. Try a small amount at first and wait to discover whether your body is reacting with symptoms of allergy. These would include an itching rash and possible difficulty breathing. Obviously, if you experience any ill effects, you must stop taking the substance at once and consider calling for emergency medical care.
As mentioned in another post, remember that it is not safe to go foraging for medicinal herbs, with the goal of making tea, smoking, or otherwise using wild herbs for any medicinal purpose. (This includes bathing and aroma therapy.) There are credible reports of people who foraged for medicinal herbs and made lethal mistakes, when they harvested poisonous plants instead. Please, unless you are thoroughly trained to forage for wild herbs, do not attempt this.
A beta blocker drug available by prescription only, atenolol (Tenormin) is used quite a bit to reduce performance anxiety. This is a medication usually prescribed for treating high blood pressure. You will need to consult your primary care doctor for this one. Ask about atenolol for help with your stage fright. I personally have used this drug to deal with performance anxiety and found it helpful. Although, please understand there is no prescription medication that is an instant magic bullet.
You might find this medication helps by “taking the edge off” your anxiety. Then again, you might find that it makes you too sleepy to sing well. It is wise to use it well before the day of performance, so you can get the feel for how your body responds. Once more, any ill reaction should be reported as quickly as possible to your doctor. If you experience intolerable side effects and you are not using atenolol for high blood pressure, it is probably best to stop using it. This is merely my opinion, however, so please do ask your doctor.
How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?
Old joke: Tourist in New York City stops a person on the busy street and asks, “How to you get to Carnegie Hall?” And the response is “Practice, practice, practice!”
But seriously folks, there will probably never be any more powerful answer for how to get rid of stage fright than for you to be thoroughly prepared for your performance!
The story goes that Steve Jobs used to begin practicing months in advance for his most important public speeches. He literally practiced for thousands of hours on any one big speech. But don’t go overboard, when it comes to singing and how many hours you are using your voice!
There is a fantastic way to practice without using your voice. And this would be mental practice of your music. You sit in a quiet room and you relax for a moment, breathe deeply, and preferably have either the lyrics to your song or your printed musical score in your hands. Slowly begin to review the words and the music in your mind, rehearsing mentally, without physically singing.
The technique here is to mentally practice for your performance in a slow, step by step way. Instead of actually singing, with mental practice of your music, you imagine as vividly as possible exactly how you want to perform. Mentally hear and feel exactly how you want your singing to be in your performance. Become as detailed and vivid as possible in your mental preparation of your music.
Think of WHAT, not HOW!
Mental practicing works, because it increases your self-confidence and allows you to focus on what you are doing, not how you are doing it! Please mull over this one and really give it some thought. We can discuss your questions in the comments below, which I highly encourage. Learning to focus on what you are doing, while keeping your mind off how you are doing it, will open new windows and give you a wonderfully successful tool to rely upon, for your best performance!
Needless to say, your regular physical singing practice must go on and should be thorough, without your becoming so stressed that you end up singing too much! It is relatively easy to wear out the singing voice, with over-zealous practicing. Here we come upon yet another reasons that having your own singing teacher can be a Godsend! There just is no substitute for experience and highly trained ears, a good singing teacher who ready, willing, and able to help advance your personal singing goals.
How Famous Singers Cope with Stage Fright
And next the world-renowned British mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker speaks about her breakthrough, in her long battle against stage fright.
Your Ultimate BEST Solution
for How to Get Rid of Stage Fright
This final recommendation for how to get rid of stage fright comes from my long years of personal experience. For me, if there is a drug-free solution, it is almost always superior. But many people will respond wonderfully to one or all of the various remedies detailed above.
Use your common sense and ask questions of your primary care doctor. This is always the best way to begin any discovery process involving your physical and mental well-being. Be patient and willing to accept some trial and error, with the guidance of your trusted primary care doctor. Stage fright wreaks havoc and cripples untold high numbers of performers. Investing some time and effort to resolve this for yourself will pay off tremendously for the rest of your life.
Being “In the Moment”
Actors learn what this means and how to use it as a technique. Being and staying “in the moment” is a potent anti-anxiety tool. What is it exactly? In this next video, we can understand more.
This is a form of meditation, also highly recommended as a means of overcoming stage fright. In fact, mindfulness meditation is a robust technique, which is especially valuable for any type of performer. If you want to eliminate unhealthy stress, there is a high likelihood you are bound to find great relief in the practice of mindfulness meditation. The purpose is to gain the ability to tune out the static, the noise of this world. Then you are free to give your full attention to exactly what you are doing, not worrying how you are doing it!
Fully Present in This Moment
The constant pressures of our daily existence cause us to become “multitasking” experts. And the truth is even though we are all made to feel this is expected and actually “normal,” it is not healthy. Racing and rushing, pushed and stressed to deal with multiple things at once causes breathing to become shallow, along with a rise in blood pressure, to name just a few of the ill effects. It presents a big negative drain upon our physical and mental well-being, to put it mildly!
All tied up in knots, running around with your hair on fire, becomes an accident waiting to happen for any singer. The fact is that our brains simply do not perform well, when we are pressured to take care of more than one thing at a time. Your answer here is to reject the belief that you must become an expert at multitasking.
Consider how much more you will accomplish by allowing yourself the luxury of focusing on one thing at a time. This is the essence of mindfulness meditation. And it has a deeply positive effect for any artistic person, especially for a singer. So then, I strongly advise that you give yourself this wonderful release and relief!
How to Get Rid of Stage Fright: 4-7-8!
Having explained all of this, now we come to the most powerful natural remedy you will find, in my opinion, for getting rid of stage fright. As mentioned in previous posts, this breathing exercise is based in the traditions of ancient yoga. It does not cost you a penny and has absolutely no ill side effects.
Called “the 4-7-8 breath exercise” or “the relaxation breath exercise,” your instructions are in the video below. The more you practice this, the more intensely powerful it becomes. Please stop what you’re doing right now and follow this one. You will be so glad that you did!
Also please bear in mind that when you combine this breathing exercise with aerobic exercise, the calming effects will intensify and last longer. More bang for your buck!
Contact me now to discuss how the lessons I provide can help your singing enormously! Your first lesson is free! Email address: Gretchen@SingingAndYou.com.
What are the greatest remedies you know for how to get rid of stage fright? Please share them in the comments. We sing best when we learn from each other!
This post is an exploration of best remedies for getting rid of stage fright.
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