Harnessing Performance Anxiety and Making it an Asset Instead of a Liability
I have learned through many years of competing that anxiety itself is not the real problem. The problem is that most of us have not learned how to use adrenaline to our advantage. I have learned to actually welcome the rush of adrenaline and to channel that energy to empower my performances, and to bring more conviction and confidence into the dance. This is your moment and you want to leave your heart on the stage and shine!
Using Breath and Meditation to Release Stress
There are many ways to help you use the adrenaline that is activated prior to a performance, so I would like to streamline it and focus on a few techniques that some of the world’s best pole artists find effective. One of the most powerful techniques for reversing the stress response is learning how to breathe mindfully from your diaphragm. When stressed, our bodies have a tendency to revert to shallow, rapid, chest breathing. Doing so keeps us in fight or flight mode. Diaphragmatic breathing is the most biomechanically efficient way to breathe and activates the parasympathetic nervous system response which is our body’s antidote for the fight-or-flight state. This empowers us and harnesses the adrenaline which optimizes our performances.
Breath is a key component of meditation which clears the mind of unwanted thoughts and allows us to be in the present moment. Mindfulness helps train the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that creates a calm and alert state of mind which will allow you to perform your best. If you are feeling anxious prior to your performance, find a quiet place, clear your mind, and concentrate on your breath. Breathing in and breathing out slowly, consciously and in a steady pattern, you will notice that your breath will become slower and deeper, your mind will become calm and clear and you will find your center. Breathing with intention during a performance creates a moving meditation that not only fuels your body with oxygen but harnesses your inner power and connects more deeply with your audience.
Put Your Performance in Perspective
We decide to compete or perform for many different reasons. However, most of us do it because it challenges us to become the best that we can become. The performance is a goal with a deadline and it sets our energy in high gear to create the highest level of artistic perfection. Make certain you are well prepared in all areas of your performance. This includes your intention, storytelling, the use of props and even how you walk on the stage. Practice, practice, practice including visualizing your routine while listening to your music. When you are well prepared there is a calmness and confidence that manifests within and you truly enjoy the journey. Focus on the inner confidence you have earned by your hard work and don’t give any energy to doubting yourself. Remember it is next to impossible to do a perfect routine and the audience doesn’t care or often even know if you are perfect. They only care if you are engaging and connect with them, and if you do that you will leave your heart on the stage.