How to Conquer Anxiety and Stage Fright

This is literally THE BEST way to deal with feelings of anxiety or stress of any kind, which naturally makes it very effective in dealing with stage fright.

Ultimate Guitar

Are you one of those lucky musicians who can get up on stage in front of a packed house and feel not even the slightest hint of nervousness? Do you have unwavering confidence, blissfully untouched by fear or doubt of any kind? If so, then this article is not for you. If, however, you lack those qualities, read on!

Stress is a natural human response to certain stimuli, programmed into our biology as a survival mechanism. That said, in our society, that stress response is out of control. We've invented more and more reasons to trip the fight or flight response, to the point where we pretty much always have a background hum of anxiety.

You need look no further than breathing rates to realize this - most of us don't even remember how to properly breathe, full and deep from the abdomen. All humans breathe like this as infants, but as time goes on, tension builds in our bodies, we gradually forget this technique and we start taking shallow, chest-centered breaths that only use a portion of our lung capacity. The average breath rate is 15-20 breaths per minute, which is in reality quite fast.

This lack of oxygenation makes it difficult for the body to shut down the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system. The weaker breathing essentially depletes the parasympathetic nervous system, which is what shuts down the sympathetic. As such, we keep on straining our bodies, with what is essentially a never-ending stress response. As I said earlier, a background hum of anxiety.

To learn how to reinforce the parasympathetic nervous system and essentially eliminate the stress response on stage, have a look at the following video:

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I hope this helped, and please feel free to ask any followup questions you may have. Thanks for reading/watching!

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Usually i just wear my magic sunglasses
    Properly breathing also helps concentration So fill your lungs with fresh air fellow musicians!
    That's probably why I start to feel comfortable when I start singing... interesting
    I find that I have mild stage fright right until I walk on stage to a cheering audience (of 10 - 20 people, but what the hey), from there on, it's just pure adrenaline until it's over.
    Sometimes the tension is a good thing. It can really add a layer of emotion to the performance that you couldn't get, otherwise. It can make you do things you would dream of doing when you aren't under tension, and eventually you will become comfortable with yourself. While I think this breathing-technique is pretty great, nothing will ever substitute actually going on-stage and playing your heart out to remedy stage fright.
    Guns N' Chains
    The old trick of: 'if you got long enough hair, let it cover your face' thus providing you a "curtain" or a "shield" from the audience. Just don't let it **** up your playing or show. Many rock musicians have said they have done this. Off the top of my head; Slash, Claudio Sanchez...
    ..."don't be shy, your mother wasn't" most people have to realize, you don't have to go up there to show how awesome you are or get people to think you're awesome... if you want to completely get rid of stage fright, it's very easy and you'll never get it again: play like you're a part of the party and want to have fun or create the fun so people can have fun. that's all. people don't care, especially since most of them are "half in the bag" and just want to boogie. be the show, be a part of the show. stop caring if you'll screw up and have fun with your instrument and party with the folks through that instrument. just have fun man
    Maybe you should give this article to the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin
    Just remember that if you are an original band, the crowd probably will not know if you messed up. Just keep going, don't look around at your other band mates. It is a dead give away.
    this is terrible. Do it in one take. All the editing was so annoying I couldn't pay attention to what he was saying.
    I liked your comment. No. LOL, What do you think? Did my comment make you think I was expecting Scorsese POOP Sock!
    I have a presentation I have to give later today. I'll try this before I go up and talk to my class. If it works, I'll share this with my band. Thanks.
    This may sound weird but if you wear eyeglasses, take them off. I'm pretty damn blind without my glasses and if everyone is blurry and I'm still sober it kinda feels like they're not there anymore while I'm still level headed enough to not completely **** everything up.
    So true about the breathing thing, I learnt that a couple of months ago and have been trying to breath from the ab ever since.