Another name for Stage Fright is Performance Anxiety.
Performance Anxiety or Stage fright is a condition that plagues many, even those who are formidable, professionally. It can affect any person from any profession, (teachers, pilots, surgeons, entrepreneurs) or even those, whose jobs entail performance, like actors and musicians. Amygdala is a mass of grey matter which remains present in each cerebral hemisphere of the brain. In some, the amygdala triggers an overt production of adrenaline when faced by an audience, resulting in increased blood pressure, pounding of the heart, dry mouth and often gastrointestinal disorders. The sufferer finds himself in a fight or flight situation, and most of the time either the latter option is chosen or the person makes a blunder, which aggravates the situation as the person feels more crippled, emotionally.
There are no medicines to treat stage fright as such. Even if there are, a person should focus on self-counseling rather than the intake of medicines. Performance Anxiety is very much intertwined with a person’s ego. It is an outcome of one’s fear of failing to prove himself/herself in front of a crowd. Once we accept the fact that we are fallible creatures and wrap our heads around the saying, to err is human, we would be less fearful of making mistakes. In other words we have to be confident and face our fears.
One might say that it is easier said than done, and in fact it is, especially for a person who suffers from acute stage fright. But there are solutions for every problem. One can start with taking parts in small-scale debates and discussions or recitals, depending on his/her profession. This gives the subject enough room to prepare himself/herself even if it is among close friends and family members. For a student, who is otherwise bright, but always shying away from classroom interaction, talking in front of the mirror shall ease up the nerves before a performance.
Practice is of utmost importance and any performance preceded by dedicated practice is likely to bring better results. On the day of the performance a low-fat and carbohydrate-rich diet is advisable. The performer should also stay away from caffeine, alcohol and excessive sugar. Meditation, yoga or breathing exercises before a performance will calm the nerves and will help the performer to focus better on his/her presentation. Some people with debilitating stage fright are compelled to take beta-blockers; however, if the problem is not so severe one can always follow these guidelines to get a better grip on the situation.
Accept the fact that you are not perfect, and thereby, prone to making mistakes. Consider your audience as close friends, smile at them and make an eye-contact to gain their confidence. Be natural and be comfortable in your skin. Do not let any thought deter you from achieving your best and think only of the positive effect that your performance is going to have on the audience.
Anybody who suffers from performance anxiety is free to go ahead with the treatment. One’s inability to face a crowd is just a state of mind and with some grooming and self-motivational regimes one can overcome the fear.
A person who is confident enough to face a crowd without any anxiety or nervousness hitting him/her does not need any counseling. However, he/she can definitely take an initiative to motivate others who have stage fright.
Self-counseling and meditative methods can prove to be very effective when it comes to fighting off performance anxiety. There are no side effects of such measures. However, one who depends on anxiety-repelling medicines too much can face long-term side effects like drowsiness, imbalance, poor concentration and slurred speech.
A person suffering from performance anxiety should continue following the golden rules of self-motivation till he/she gains enough confidence, so much so that there comes one point when nothing stops him/her from facing the crowd. Stage fright is such a condition where pushing the self is the most feasible treatment available.
With time and enough perseverance one is likely get over his/her fears. It is not a phobia that is unconquerable. Recovery time can differ from person to person. For one it might take 5 sitting to leverage enough confidence, for another it might take 10.
Performance Anxiety treatment is basically based on self-help programs and could be performed out of one’s own volition, cost-free. However, anti-anxiety medicines can cost anywhere between Rs 500-Rs 3000. For those who need psychological assistance, the cost of one session is at least Rs 600, which is again subject to change depending on the psychologist’s remuneration.
A person with performance anxiety will enjoy permanent results with enough perseverance and self-boosting therapy.