How To Break The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety


Performance anxiety, also known as stage fright, is a common issue that affects many people. It can affect anyone, from amateurs to professionals. Performance anxiety can make one feel nervous, stressed, and overwhelmed, ultimately leading to poor performance. This can be a significant impediment, particularly for those who rely on performing for their livelihood. Learning how to break the cycle of performance anxiety can be a key element in improving performance and overall wellbeing.

Understanding Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a psychological condition that affects people who experience little success in performing under pressure. It usually results from the fear of being judged and evaluated. In some cases, the anxiety gets so severe that it affects the individual’s daily life. Performance anxiety can occur in any situation where you are required to perform, such as singing in front of a crowd, giving a speech, or playing sports.

It is critical to understand that performance anxiety is not an innate trait; it can be learned behavior. Factors such as genetics, environment, and learned behaviors can all contribute to the development of performance anxiety. The good news is that performance anxiety can be reversed, and the cycle can be broken.

Identifying The Causes Of Performance Anxiety

The first step in breaking the cycle of performance anxiety is to identify the cause of the stress. Some of the most common causes of performance anxiety include:

  • The fear of failure
  • The pressure to perform
  • The fear of being judged by others
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Past negative experiences
  • A negative internal dialogue
  • Anxiety disorder

Understanding the cause of the anxiety can help you come up with a plan to address the underlying issue, reducing the anxiety that stems from it.

Develop A Positive Mindset

Developing a positive mindset can help you break the cycle of performance anxiety. Negative self-talk and self-doubt are significant contributors to anxiety disorders. Recognizing and addressing negative self-talk can help develop a positive mindset.

Some tips for developing a positive mindset include:

  • Acknowledge your achievements and praise yourself.
  • Avoid self-deprecating comments or jokes.
  • Stay focused on the present moment.
  • Affirm your capabilities and strengths.
  • Visualize success as part of your preparation routine.
  • Practice self-compassion and forgiveness; be kind to yourself.

A positive mindset can help remove the self-induced pressure that contributes to performance anxiety, helping you to perform at your best.

Develop A Coping Mechanism

Developing a coping mechanism can be an effective way to break the cycle of performance anxiety. A coping mechanism is a strategy used to manage stress or anxiety. Developing a coping mechanism that works for you can help you feel more in control and reduce performance anxiety.

Some effective coping mechanisms to try out include:

  • Breathing and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Visualizing successful outcomes.
  • Engaging in physical exercise, such as yoga.
  • Seeking support from friends, family or professionals.
  • Avoidance or distraction techniques, such as focusing on something else when feeling anxious.
  • Changing the way you think about the event or task, such as reducing the perceived level of importance of the event.

Having a coping mechanism in place can help reduce the level of anxiety and stress, making it easier to perform without fear of failure.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practice, the more confident you will become, ultimately reducing performance anxiety. Familiarizing yourself with the task at hand can help reduce anxiety levels, making the actual performance easier to handle.

Some suggestions for effective practice include:

  • Breaking down the performance into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Repeatedly practicing the task until you are comfortable performing it.
  • Performing in a safe environment, gradually increasing the level of pressure and exposure over time.
  • Incorporating positive self-talk and visualization techniques during practice.

Practicing helps to build muscle memory and confidence, making it easier to perform under pressure.


Performance anxiety is a common issue that affects many people, but it is possible to break the cycle. Developing a positive mindset, identifying the cause, developing a coping mechanism, and practicing can help reduce anxiety levels and improve performance. It is essential to be kind to oneself, embrace positive self-talk, and work at one’s own pace. Overcoming performance anxiety takes time, patience, and effort, but it is possible. With practice and perseverance, one can break the cycle of performance anxiety and perform confidently, achieving their full potential.


FAQs: How To Break The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety

What is performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety is a condition where a person feels extreme nervousness or fear before and during a performance or public appearance. This condition can affect anyone, regardless of their level of experience or skill. It can occur in various situations, including public speaking, sports events, job interviews, and musical or theatrical performances.

Why is it important to break the cycle of performance anxiety?

People who suffer from performance anxiety may experience debilitating physical and mental symptoms, including sweating, trembling, nausea, palpitations, and difficulty concentrating. Performance anxiety can also affect a person’s ability to perform to the best of their ability, leading to poor outcomes and low self-esteem. Breaking the cycle of performance anxiety is crucial to improving performance, enhancing confidence, and reducing stress.

What are some strategies for breaking the cycle of performance anxiety?

There are various strategies for breaking the cycle of performance anxiety, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, self-talk, visualization, and exposure therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to performance anxiety. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, can help calm the body and reduce anxiety. Self-talk involves replacing negative self-talk with positive, affirming statements. Visualization involves picturing oneself performing successfully and confidently. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing oneself to situations that trigger performance anxiety, allowing for desensitization and increased confidence over time.


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