How Counseling Can Help Overcome Performance Anxiety

Standing in front of an audience can be frightening. But you are not alone: even actors, musicians, hosts, and athletes experience this agitation. Would you believe that most people would rather be sick than speak or perform on stage? This fear is called performance anxiety or stage fright.

Performance anxiety can take a massive toll on your career and self-esteem. It can even lead to losing a job or leaving school. People who experience performance anxiety worry about the results of their performance and humiliation in front of their audience. It can also happen when you are under pressure. However, people with performance anxiety usually choose to suffer in silence. Instead of opening up, they feel embarrassed to share their feelings. They tend to keep their anxiety to themselves.

The impact of performance anxiety can vary depending on the person. Some people who face stage fright can experience nervousness before performing, while others have panic attacks. Those who have extreme stage fright might need counseling to determine the underlying roots of their fear. Also, counselors or therapists can help them understand their situation and teach them to cope with their performance anxiety.


Understanding The Causes Of Performance Anxiety

Situations that require a person to perform might make them worried about their ability to do it. This causes them to develop performance anxiety. Being on stage or being in front of people can make an individual vulnerable. Mahatma Gandhi faced this dilemma for years, even when he was an excellent public speaker. This only shows that even talented people experience stage fright. Your mentality is as crucial as your capability or potential.

Feeling panicked before a performance is normal, and anyone can relate to this apprehension. For some people, recitals or other major events are possible causes of performance anxiety. You might worry about failure even when nothing has happened yet. You might be afraid that the people watching or listening to you might humiliate or reject you. You might want to leave the situation immediately because of such feelings.

Additionally, if you experience performance anxiety, you will want to prove yourself to others even more. The constant need to satisfy the audience may ruin your ability to do the task. The intense pressure can cause stress and panic. In this situation, you would doubt your capacity and focus on what could go wrong with your performance. You might even associate past failures with your current performance. An upcoming performance might make you think of previous flop experiences when singing, dancing, or speaking in front of an audience.

Identifying The Signs Of Performance Anxiety

Being on the stage and knowing that people are watching or listening can be stressful. You might actually think that it will be the one mistake you make that people will remember and not your performance. As a result, your body reacts to it as if it were an incoming danger. The following are some of the physical symptoms of performance anxiety:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Wobbly voice, hand, or knees
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Palpitation
  • Change of vision
  • Elevated blood pressure

Conversely, some people with serious performance anxiety may experience other symptoms, including:

  • Long periods of worrying
  • Mental numbness or insensibility
  • Inability to speak or perform
  • Panic attacks

Coping With Stage Fright

Performance anxiety can adversely affect your self-confidence, possibly impacting your career and education. A counselor or therapist can teach you multiple ways to overcome this fear. They can help you cope with performance anxiety by discussing the causes and symptoms and reframing your thoughts. Your counselor will guide you in taking positive actions to overcome performance anxiety.  

Relaxation Technique

When a person feels pressured and anxious, it can cause tension. Performance anxiety can be overpowering, leading to panic attacks. It’s vital to take a breath and pause. Here are some of the relaxation techniques your counselor may recommend:

  • Proper Breathing
  • Herbal Remedies
  • Aromatherapy
  • Meditation and Massage
  • Music

Create Goals

Besides helping yourself surpass this challenge, keep in mind that your counselor will help you each step of the way. You can develop short-term and long-term goals with their help. Taking definite actions will improve how you deal with your anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The primary objective of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to stop negative patterns of behavior and thought processes. This therapy involves examining how you think and what you do. In the beginning, you can discuss the problems you want to work on. Then you may develop goals and plan sessions. CBT is a good choice if you are looking for short-term therapy and you have clear goals.


Some counselors may recommend that you take medication to decrease signs of performance anxiety. They can prescribe you suitable medication for performance anxiety.



Coping with performance anxiety is challenging. But it is important to identify the symptoms and causes of this fear. Your counselor will help you understand the underlying cause of this apprehension and create a session plan for you.

Apart from that, a counselor will encourage you to develop a healthy lifestyle. Limiting sugar and caffeine intake can help lessen your anxiety. They can also teach you some strategies to decrease symptoms. Finally, having a strong support system will benefit you. Dealing with anxiety is generally difficult. Knowing what you can do and who to approach when experiencing it should help ease your mind a little.