#1
Any other musicians out there severely anxious? It seriously holds me back and takes a toll on my confidence. Some days I'll feel like the best guitarist ever and some days I feel like I'm absolute shit.

I've played for about six years now and have longed to start a band, but I've never felt "good enough" and always think I'm just going to embarrass myself in front of other musicians. I've played two songs at a festival one time with a band and was sweating bullets weeks before the event even took place. However, once I was on stage I got in my zone, still a little tense, but relieved.

Any other guitarists here with GAD (general anxiety disorder)? I'm sure everyone gets some level of nervousness even if you've played 1000 gigs. What helps you get over this? How can I build my confidence?
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#2
Just practice. Learning how to block out the anxiety is something you can only achieve by beating it back, preferably with a large hammer or mallet.

Basically, just play for/with family, until you can do it confidently, without being nervous at all. Then, move on to playing for/with friends until you feel comfortable. Then move on to big stuff like full crowds and stuff like that. Just don't rush it.
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#3
Quote by xBrando
Any other musicians out there severely anxious? It seriously holds me back and takes a toll on my confidence. Some days I'll feel like the best guitarist ever and some days I feel like I'm absolute shit.

I've played for about six years now and have longed to start a band, but I've never felt "good enough" and always think I'm just going to embarrass myself in front of other musicians. I've played two songs at a festival one time with a band and was sweating bullets weeks before the event even took place. However, once I was on stage I got in my zone, still a little tense, but relieved.

Any other guitarists here with GAD (general anxiety disorder)? I'm sure everyone gets some level of nervousness even if you've played 1000 gigs. What helps you get over this? How can I build my confidence?


I used to struggle with GAD a LOT back in high school. The damn thing ruined my life for a couple years, actually. Prescriptions did more harm than good, and it seemed like nothing worked. Then I stumbled onto meditation.

The first thing you should try, in my opinion, is deep breathing. REALLY deep breathing. You need to work up to this to do it without feeling like you're holding your breath, but for the kind of breathing depth that blocks the adrenaline from the sympathetic nervous system, you need to be breathing at a rate no faster than 10 seconds in, 10 seconds out.

For now, breathe from your abdomen, as slowly and softly as you can without tensing up, as often as you can throughout the day. It becomes more and more unconscious over time, and eventually your passive breathing rate slows down as well. This is very good for people with anxiety, because it essentially emphasizes the parasympathetic nervous system and its ability to control the adrenal response.

Also: Smile. A lot. Like, a stupid lot. Smile constantly. If you're not smiling, remember to smile. Especially if you can create a mental trigger of a happy memory or image, this trick causes the synthesis of dopamine in the brain. Now, paired with adrenaline, dopamine runs the risk of actually increasing anxiety, but that's what the deep breathing's for. Combining the smile with the deep breathing results in a very healing state of mind that gives you superior control over your anxiety. Eventually, you'll learn to dismiss those anxious feelings at will, without all the breathing and smiling. This just trains your body to obey your mind by association.

Message me if you ever need to talk about this further; I know how hard it can be to get over something like this
#4
Play at as many 'open mic' type nights or backyard gigs, as you can, where there's less pressure on you to play note perfect.
As said before big deep breathing and definitely warm up playing your guitar out the back for at least half an hour.
#5
Well experience does help get over nerves. But I always devoted a part of my practice time imagining playing in front of a crowd. If you can imagine it really well, it turns out you get use to playing in front of people without ever doing so.
#6
Quote by TwoPlusTwo
Well experience does help get over nerves. But I always devoted a part of my practice time imagining playing in front of a crowd. If you can imagine it really well, it turns out you get use to playing in front of people without ever doing so.


That's a very good point as well. Our brains are actually fairly bad at distinguishing between fantasy and reality. There was a test done on athletes who were asked to imagine running their route while hooked up to...I think it was probably an MRI. The machine revealed that the same neurons were firing in the brain from imagining this run, that fire when physically running. So, you can kind of condition your body to being in front of a crowd mentally.

Note that this technique can also be adapted to improving at guitar. Stuck in class or at the store? Simply vividly imagine your fingers playing through an exercise, to the point where your fingers might even twitch a little bit from anticipation. This does, indeed, create some improvement, less than that of physically playing the exercise, but still noticeable.
#7
I don't think I've ever really stopped being nervous when performing. What has changed is that I'm not surprised by what nervous feels like anymore. Faster heart rate, shaky/cold hands, sweaty palms...standard, no big deal. I just try to take deep breaths.

When I'm actually playing though, the nervousness becomes like a source of energy if I can ride it right. It's sort of like surfing the adrenaline or something. If I focus on what I'm doing and feel it emotionally, I'm propelled forward.