Performance Anxiety – Transform Fear into Action

Performance anxiety affects many people and fear is such a strong emotion it can literally freeze you in your tracks.

Performance anxiety can occur anywhere – on stage, in the workplace, playing sport, during exams and even in the home.  Having practiced hypnotherapy and applied therapies for many years, I have successfully treated a number of people with performance anxiety and have helped them to manage and overcome their fears.

Below are some techniques which have proven to be successful.

Mindfulness for Performance Anxiety

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and keeping your attention focused on the moment that you are experiencing now.

Mindfulness provides tools so that we can develop awareness and control our attention. This then gives us more ability to make a choice as to how we respond to a situation and take mindful action.

You can learn how to this and develop this ability through a variety of methods and exercises. Most of these are simple, can be incorporated in everyday life and do not take much time.

Right Brain and Self Hypnosis for Performance Anxiety

We have a right and a left hemisphere of the brain and as a simplification of this:

  • Left Brain is associated with logic, reasoning, judgement, rules, words and numbers.
  • Right Brain is associated with images, overview, sounds, creativity, sensory input and emotions.

You would think that the Left Brain would be useful for overcoming anxiety and it can be if you can use assertive language “I am performing well”, “I can do this”. However, it also tends to be critical and can overthink things.  This can be used successfully with CBT approaches to challenge your thoughts however if they are critical.

The Right Brain on the other hand is more conducive to putting you in the flow and tapping into the emotions to create more harmony and productive energy and positive images.

This is where Self Hypnosis can help. Learn how to use this for yourself to create the positive images and focus you want.

NLP for Public Speaking Anxiety

Public Speaking and performance ranks high as one of the main fears. Whether it is in front of large groups, social events or simply meetings there are several way of dealing with this.

Interviews and social events can also cause anxiety. Learn how to refocus, create the impression you want, stop worrying about what others think, and be able to say what you want to say and feel OK.

Breathing techniques are helpful together with visualization, anchoring (an NLP technique) to put you in the right frame of mind. For more information on this Life Coaching and NLP may be useful.

CBT for Overthinkers and Worriers

This is where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may prove helpful as we can get into the habit of unhelpful thinking.

Our thoughts can go into overdrive and create anxiety and stress and all the physical symptoms that go with this. Our thoughts affect our emotions and our emotions affect our behaviour. Try challenging your thoughts through some CBT techniques.

Top Tips on reducing performance anxiety

Most of the time we try to get rid of uncomfortable feelings or at least reduce them, but I would suggest working in a different way

1. Allow yourself to feel the anxiety and the effects rather than trying to relax. The emotion of fear is very similar to excitement so it may be best to find a way of experiencing excitement instead.

2. Feel the emotion, accept and open up to it. Notice where the emotion is in your body. Breathe into that place and stay with it. Allow emotion to be as it is. Be with the experience.

3. Observe and be aware of the emotion, without being the emotion itself and create a space between you and the feeling as if you are watching it.

4. Learn how to use adrenaline to your advantage. Tune into it and turn it into positive energy with positive thoughts i.e. focussing on what you can do rather than what you think might go wrong.

5. Practice being in the now and noticing what is around you. There are more suggestions for this below.

6. Practice mindfulness. Just allow yourself to be aware of what is happening. There is more information for this below.

Pat Whitson is the Founder and Principal of The Kent College of Hypnotherapy. Pat has years of experience both practicing and teaching hypnotherapy and integrated therapies. For further information on accredited training and CPF Courses, please visit or call 01732 846374.

Patricia Whitson - Founder And Principal Of Kent College Of Hypnotherapy


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