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AdvantEdge Joy@Work Podcast:

Episode · 6 years ago

LA 007: 4 Simple Brain Hacks to Overcome Performance Anxiety

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Anxiety is, for many people, most prevalent when you have a need to perform in front of others. Whether you are speaking to thousands in an arena or having a private conversation with your boss. Unfortunately, your anxiety means that you perform less well than you could. So how do you control those feelings? You may be surprised that most professional trainers and speakers and performers (actors, singers, musicians) have those same feelings of anxiety. So how do they deal wit them? This week I'm sharing four simple brain hacks, and I really do mean simple, to overcome performance anxiety. Visit my Your Brain on Stress and Anxiety video on YouTube I've been prompted in part, because of the responses I have been receiving about a little video I made just over a year ago now. It's entitled Your Brain on Stress and Anxiety, and it's garnered just shy of a hundred thousand views on YouTube alone now. Which is incredibly humbling, but also a little concerning. Humbling because it makes me somewhat proud that a little whiteboard video I drew and produced has been watched quite so many times just on YouTube. But it has also been a little disturbing. If you read some of the publically visible comments, you'll get an idea of the types of questions I've been getting over the past year from those who are suffering from stress and anxiety. Some very serious stress and anxiety as well. So, a quick caveat if I may. I am not a medical doctor and, if you are suffering from long-term stress or anxiety, please do seek professional help. The four simple ways I am sharing today will help anyone with any degree of stress and anxiety, but I am focused more on people in business or work who suffer stress and anxiety because they are about to perform in front of others. That does not mean that these simple ways won’t help whenever you feel anxious, they will. So use them. And if you have yet to watch my little video, you should do so now or later, and whilst you're over at YouTube, subscribe to my channel as well and do please share with at least 3 people you know will benefit from learning there. The four simple ways I am sharing today will help anyone with any degree of stress and anxiety, but I am focused more on people in business or work who suffer stress and anxiety because they are about to perform in front of others. That does not mean that these simple ways won’t help whenever you feel anxious, they will. So use them. And if you have yet to watch my little video, you should do so now or later, and whilst you're over at YouTube, subscribe to my channel as well and do please share with at least 3 people you know will benefit from learning there. Back to today. 4 Simple brain hacks to overcome performance anxiety…. But before I begin on how we overcome performance anxiety, let us understand just what is happening when we get anxious.  But before I begin on how we overcome performance anxiety, let us understand just what is happening when we get anxious.  I was just seven years old when I first experienced acute stage fright. I was due on stage to sing (in my beautiful soprano) in the finals of an inter-church competition. But the room was just so huge. There were more than a thousand people out there. And this was the finals. Something I’d been preparing for and practicing all year. But this song was difficult and required that I hit the high notes perfectly. I froze at the side of the stage. It was as if my shoes had been glued to the floor. My thin shirt was soaking with sweat at the armpits, and I began to shake. My singing coach (aka church choir master) came over and urged me on stage. I got out there and stood, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I kept my head down and made myself as small as I could, so they couldn’t see me and then the pianist started the piece. The first bars repeated five times as I desperately tried to start singing. Not a chance. I turned and ran from the stage and burst into tears. "It's just stage fright," th

Hi, you're listening to the advantage podcast with me, John Camerony. Hey there, I'm Dr John Kenworthy and welcome to this week's podcast for simple brain hacks to overcome performance anxiety, and thank you for listening to my podcast. I do trust that you're enjoying them, and please kindly do me a favor and spread the word to your friends and colleagues. This week I'm sharing with you for simple brain notes, and I really do mean simple ways to overcome performance anxiety. I've been prompted, in part because of the responses I've been receiving, to about a little video I made just every year ago about your brain on stress and anxiety, and it's gone and just over shy over a hundred thousand views on youtube alone, which is very humbling but also disturbing and concerning for me. And if you read some of the publicly visible comments, you'll get an idea of the type of questions and comments I've been getting privately and through email from people who really are suffering some very major problems with stress and anxiety. But there are four ways that anybody can deal with the immediate effects and reduce their performance anxiety. But a quick calviat. If I may. I am not a medical doctor and if you are suffering from any long term stress or anxiety, please do seek professional help. The four simple ways that I'm going to share with you today will help anyone with any degree of stress and anxiety, but I'm focused far more on business people or people at work who are suffering stress and anxiety because they are about to perform in front...

...of others. That performance might be an interview, a monthly report, a weekly meeting or a major presentation that you've been preparing. And if you've yet to watch my little video, you'll find some liquet the bottom of the email. If you receive this on email and also on the show notes, you should do so now or later, and whilst you're over on Youtube, do subscribe to my channel. But before I begin on the four simple brain hacks to overcome performance anxiety, I think is important that we understand just what is happening when we do get anxious. I was just seven or eight years old when I first experienced acute stage fright. I was due on stage to sing in my beautiful soprano voice in the finals of an Inter Church National Competition, but the room was just so huge. There were more than a thousand people, their parents and other contestants, and these walls. The final something I've been preparing and practicing for pretty well all year. But this song wasn't difficult and required that I really hit those high notes perfectly. I just froze at the side of the stage. It was as if my shoes were covered in glue and glued me to the floor. My thin nylon shirt was soaking with sweat at the armpits and I began to shake. My singing coach, otherwise known as the choir master, came over to me and urged me to go on stage, shoving me out there. So I did get out into the middle of the stage and I stood there like a rabbit caught in the headlights. So I cut my head down, I made myself as small as I could so they couldn't see me. But then the pianist started the piece and repeated the first few bars again and again and again, as I desperately tried...

...to start singing, but not a chance. I just turned and ran from the stage in floods of tears. It's just a stage, right, the choir master said loudly to anyone who came here. He'll be fine in a moment. Hm. Well, forty six years later and I still get a little yester every one. I'm about to perform, not the singing. I gave that up a few years after that seven year old soprano was left crying by the side of the stage. So why do I get jittering? After all, I do this for a living. Well, it is probably for the same basic reasons that anyone does. I am about to perform in front of other people who will in some way be judging my performance. See, whatever your performance may be, a presentation to thousands or your annual performance review and interview for a cool job, or a monthly meeting in the office, maybe a sales pitch to a client, are one of those difficult conversations that you need to have with a reluctant team member. So how do you know that anxiety is crept up on you? Well, you need to be aware of your body, you're thinking and your feelings. Anxiety reveals itself to us through shallower and shorter breaths, through perspiration. You may notice you're ever so slightly clammy palms as you shake hands with your potential client, you might notice yourself changing your body language and unconsciously, you just dropped your head or turned your feet towards the door, or perhaps became tense in your arms and fist started to form. These are the classic science that Adrenaline is called through your veins, preparing you to freeze, to fly or to fight. The feelings...

...we have of an anxiety are our physical response to the neurochemicals causing through our body, principally the stress hormones, courti is old and adrenaline, and it's important to realize that by the time you feel anxious, the chemicals that are creating those feelings have already been produced, and that's caused by your thinking. Consciously or unconsciously. You have been thinking thoughts that cause your brain to initiate a stress response, which in turn makes you feel stress and anxiety. What you need to do, he's stop thinking those thoughts. But here in lies the problem. You can't not think something. To think something, you have to think it, but to not think it, you have to think it to not think it. Remember my seven year old self back on the stage in tears. My Dad, blessing, came over and told me just pull yourself together, lad don't stop worrying and just get out there. My choir master didn't have much better advice. He told me to stop thinking about the audience and the judges, but at least he kindly reminded me that I was actually quite at this singing thing and really did know the piece well and that I could hit those nose. So how do you not worry? Well, you can't. What you can do is for very simple, very easy things and stomp out that anxiety. So number one. How can you stomp on your performance anxiety with a simple brain hack? Well, it's one thing that works for everyone, and it's breathing. Yep, I know you've been doing...

...this since day one of your life, and brilliantly too, I might add, and you're doing it very nicely right now. But just how well do you breathe? In all likelihood, you don't even know the answer, but you do know that when you get anxious, you get a little shorter breath. You're breathing becomes shallow and just using the top of your lungs, and your voice will lift as a result. So breathe deep into your belly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do that right now and you'll soon feel relaxed as your body benefits from more oxygen and a calming thought life. So number two. Would you like to feel good about life and whatever it is you're about to do, whatever you're about to perform? Sure you do. So have a laugh. No, I'm not going to tell you a joke. Just laugh, and laugh out loud. Doesn't matter what it sounds like. Just laugh. Okay, not if you're at a funeral. See if anyone looked at you as if you're completely mad. Well, maybe you are just a little bit mad. But do you feel better? Yes, you do. So you can breathe and you can laugh. Number three, would you like to feel pumped with life and energy? And who doesn't? Just raise your arms above your head in a victory pose, stretch the sky and punch it powerful. You feel more confident, you feel larger and you feel as if you're in charge. Now become aware of your breathing again, breathing deep into the belly. Feel how your body feels now. HMM, feeling better. What about some more life and energy? Well,...

...if you if it's appropriate now, I'll find some space and pace. Pumping your arms punching the air as if you're in the boxing room Facinghammad Ali, chasing him around. And, if you don't believe me, one of the best known and most successful presenters in the world, Tony Robbins, does this. He jumped up and down, spins around, pumps his fist in the air and stretches his arms out wide for five minutes before going on stage. Now it's in Warton that you get to half and puff a bit, that you're actually getting just slightly out of breath, because that will help you get the endocannabinoids, yet the same stuff that's in marijuana, and some endorphins going, which makes you feel really good and relaxed. It also helps you feel powerful by using this technique falsely. We're going to look at how we can reduce the amount of performance anxiety you have to deal with, how much called is old and adrenaline is going to go into your body. And what we do here is we deliberately think of something else and we visualize the positive. And when I say visualize, I mean use all your senses, with your mind's eye, your mind's ear here, with your ears, your smell, your taste, if it's appropriate, and your touch as much of your senses as possible, because the first thing you need to do is actually stop thinking about your performance anxiety and stop thinking about the thoughts that caused it. And since you cannot not think something, you need to think of something else. So, whether you choose your favorite place in the world, a favorite person or anything that makes you feel calm, relaxed and loved, then think about that, really get in the moment, focus all of your attention there and become aware of your thinking and feelings. A lot of people use a photograph off in their wallet carried around with them, but you can have that picture...

...in your mind and bringing up at any moment. What you're doing, choosing to do, is you're choosing to take charge of your brains, thinking your brain is your servant. Remember. So some of the kind to ask the question where am I going to jump up and there like Tony Robins? I don't have a green room. Well, I recall doing something similar myself outside a meeting room before I went into pitch for some work. I stood in front of this mirror in the corridor and there was nobody around, so I pumped and punched and smiled and I did my face exercises. There was no one there, so I have my moment. Then I walked into the meeting room to discover that it was one of those sneaky one way mirrors and everyone inside had watched my warm up routine. The tension was palpable. Some were in shocks, some were smiling and chuckling away. So what I did is I shared my routine with them, why I did it, went through the process and everyone felt good for doing it. And yes, it was one of the best wins ever and nothing to do with stress and anxiety. The thing is, he's make time and fine space. Whatever you do to to need yourself to do, to huff and puff a bit. It could be a simplest climbing the stairs instead of taking in the elevator. Get your heart pumping and the blood moving and those chemicals working for you. So, in summary, to overcome performance anxiety, you can breathe deeply into a belly, laugh, pump yourself up and really punching everything else, jump up and down, using and run up the stairs and visualize the positive, your favorite place, your favorite person, whatever makes you feel good. So if it's so easy, why is it so difficult? Well, there's the RUB. It really is easy. All you are doing is choosing to notice that anxiety is...

...there or, better still, before it is there, breathe, laugh, pump yourself up and think of something other than the anxiety inducing thoughts, and you can change your thinking. But then the anxiety pops back into focus and you worry about it for a while. But then you come to realize that you're getting anxious. Maybe you remember to breathe again. So it's the moment you feel anxious where you notice this. Your brain and your body are already a wash with those chemicals that induce it. That is your feelings are coming after the fact. The anxious response is unconscious. It is only when you train yourself to become aware of the feelings and emotions and choose to deliberately think and act differently. So awareness is key. The very split second that you become aware of your stinking thinking, it's time to change that thinking. So do so. Deliberately. Help yourself by breathing deeply and focus your intention on your breathing and things positive. And when the anxious thoughts return, do it again and again and again, and when it comes back, do it all again out of those four simple brain hacks. Which one is the most difficult for you? You can breathe, you can breathe deep, you can laugh, you can pump yourself up, you can pace yourself, you could jog up the stairs instead of taking the elevator and you can visualize the positive. But most of my clients admit that they forget to breathe. Not, of course, they forget to breathe entirely, but they forget to breathe with consciousness of their breathing. Well, the moment that you do remember breathe deep,...

...you might think that it's an inappropriate time, but here's a special bonus. When you are breathing in you aren't speaking that Oh shocker right, and that pause helps your audience process what you said. It also re engage is them to listen more closely and, because you have calmed down, your voice tone drops, which engages their attention further. You're changing your voice. Just try it the next time you remember notice of what. I don't noticed my breathing. Just do it and shock yourself with great results. Do Tell me how you get on with these. I'd love to hear from you about using these techniques or indeed anything else I've been sharing in these episodes. Let me know what you like and what you think I should improve, and ask me about topics that you ma me to cover. Tell me about your experience with a podcast. When do you listen to it? Do you download it into your mobile phone? Are you listening to it in the gym, as you exercise, as you go for a round or as you're driving? Just let me know. It helps me to understand where you are and what you might be doing as you're listening to these. Perhaps your Saturday computer, doing it online, and remember, share this with at least three colleagues or friends. Be Greatly blessed. Bye. Bye. Find you've been listening to the advantage of podcast with me, John Camera. To find out more, visit US had selsoncom.

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