We all know the feeling – that paralyzing hold up in our legs, chest and everywhere really. The cold sweat on our skin, the suddenly trembling hands, the lump in the throat. The inability to even speak, let alone sing. Stage fright.
Scary, right? Yes indeed! But we’ve all been there, and this common anxiety, while quite natural, can really stop us from shining our light in front of others. So we decided to give you some helpful advice today, because everyone deserves to be able to sing freely! Maybe not everyone deserves to listen to everyone sing… We agree with you there too, but at least we can agree that everyone deserves to be able to sing! Therefore, some tips to overcome stage fright:
#1 RELAX YOUR BODY (AND YOUR MIND WILL FOLLOW)
Perhaps the main thing that needs to be understood about any kind of anxiety – not just stage fright, but many other types of anxieties and emotional disturbances, is the focus. There is some truth to the ancient Buddhist saying about the power of thoughts: “The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” When we’re upset, we’re often preoccupied with intrusive thoughts spinning around in our heads, making us preoccupied with the very thing that is actually creating the anxiety itself.
“I will make a mistake”, or, “Everyone will laugh at me” or “I’m just not good enough” or “I always mess up…”
Do these sound familiar to you?
They probably do. But take a step back and you’ll realize that these very thoughts perpetuate the state of anxiety and worry. See how they’re focused solely, and solely on yourself, your performance, your flaws, and so on. Naturally, when we flood our mental space with such self-doubting thoughts, our body reacts to it as if it’s true, and a complex, invisible but lightning-fast process starts within us. Our thoughts and doubts become a basis for our emotions to attach to the fears, and actually treat them as real – we are not worrying that we will fail – we are actually worrying that we are already failing, that we are already a failure. We already act and feel as if we’ve already botched everything up and everyone’s laughing at us! And yet, there we are, microphone in hand, or waiting for our turn behind a door or a curtain, trembling as if we’re already a lost cause, our legs stuck to the floor, our arms heavy.
So what is the solution? Well, it started with the mind focusing on an imagined outcome, which made you all tense up. For a change, shift your attention to what is not imagined, and not fictional, but real. Divert your attention from worrying and on the result of it – your tense body. Feeling your body like this will make you feel more grounded, more sure in yourself – paradoxically, becoming aware of how your body is feeling will return your control over it. It’s like when we look for our keys everywhere, but eventually find out they were in our pocket the whole time.
After you unglue your mind from chewing on that mental chewing gum made of worry, do the following exercise: Stand up (if you’re sitting), with your feet slightly apart. Place your arms to the side as well, hanging freely. Then, take a slow, deep breath in, and hold it for a while. As you do this, start intentionally tensing up your body: squeeze your feet and legs together, hold your shoulders up, and clench your teeth and your fists. Try getting as tense as possible, holding your breath like this for several moments, then release the tension, relax your body and exhale. Do this several times – take a deep breath and hold it in, then tense up the body, and release – and soon you will not only feel relaxed in your body, but you will also feel energized, and even forget you were anxious just moments ago! This is one of the most effective exercises at relaxing your mind and body. But that’s not all… Here’s further advice.
Alternatively, if you’re not really keen on tensing up and unwinding like in the exercise above, we suggest a less visible method. Slowly breathe in, counting to four. Then slowly breathe out, counting to four again. Repeat. This is a helpful technique called “Equal Breathing”, also called Sama Vritti. But the science behind it is real: by ensuring even breathing, we also stabilize our heartbeat. And then, by stabilizing our heartbeat, the heart, being the organ with the greatest density of nerve connections in the body (besides the brain), sends a harmonious, synchronized signal to the rest of our body and mind. After a minute or two of equal breathing, the anxiety will subside, and you will experience a clarity of focus. And will probably sing that song with a smirk on your face. Awesome, right?
#3 AVOID COFFEE, SUGARY DRINKS, MILK OR FAST FOOD
Naturally, you may feel a need to energize yourself a little, and reach out for that double-extra-super-espresso-cappuccino-mocha-grande or… well, you know which one. The Supercoffee that will turn you into Superman!
But wait, coffee is actually kryptonite when it comes to anxiety and stage fright. Why? Because caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it will kick your system into high gear, increase your heart rate and make you feel more agitated and anxious. Similarly, drinks high in sugar will produce a similar result, and coffee and fast food can make your throat thick with mucus. Sooo… best avoid all these before you hit the stage.
#4 THE FOUR P-s: PREPARATION, PERSPECTIVE, POSITIVITY, PERFORMANCE
If you’re confident in your knowledge of the songs and the way you can perform them, a huge chunk of the insecurities will evaporate, promise. So, make sure you prepare the best you can before singing a song, because good preparation is a strong boost to feeling competent and self-confident.
Additionally, try to always keep perspective of things: I mean, this is after all, just karaoke! Next, even if you’re singing on an official event somewhere, it will be only that – an event. It will last mere minutes, and there will be many more opportunities to keep singing. Mistakes happen, when they do – they will pass, so always keep perspective in mind. With perspective comes positivity as well – try to see the positive side of things. You’re anxious? Good, it means you’re passionate and caring. You made a mistake? Good, you can learn from it and become even better next time. You did well? Good, you can do even better. You know?
And finally, the only way all of that is possible if you just… go out there and perform. What also helps is finding a friendly face in the audience and looking at them while you’re singing. Or just looking at the air in general. Whatever you do, the trick is to forget you’re on stage or surrounded by all these people. So, bite the bullet and sing. Sing like your life depends on it, sing like you’re alone in the shower, sing like there’s no tomorrow! Singing, on its own, is a great anxiety killer. So the sooner you go out and start singing, the better!