Competition and Performance Anxiety
How many of you, professionals included, start building up the “what ifs” before any competitions or performances. Some of you will just glide through them (pun intended) without a care in the world. Whereas as many of you start building up negative thoughts and creating anxiety when there is nothing to be anxious about.
Why do we do this? Fear of losing out? Fear of not getting any medals or cups, when your friends are doing well? Fear of failure? Fear of rejection? Fear, fear, fear.
Fear is the operative word here and because many of the situations we find ourselves in are not actually life threatening it can be useful to remember this phrase:
Anxiety is linked with fear and is part of the ‘Fight, Flight and Freeze’ system that helps us deal with real dangerous situations and is linked with our most ancient survival instincts.
Anxiety increases your awareness to enable you to be prepared for the unknown, making you hyper-alert and focused. Adrenalin floods into your system to help you run or fight, your heart pounds, you feel agitated and your stomach’s filled with butterflies. This is, in general terms, how anxiety affects us although we all respond in different ways.
Remember, anxiety isn’t always detrimental, apprehension and excitement have their roots in the adrenaline rush.
If you’ve grown up with an anxious family background, you’re more likely to be susceptible to situational or even chronic anxiety. Situational anxiety is based only on a single event, even if that situation reoccurs occasionally. Chronic anxiety will have been constant for more than 6 months, it seriously interferes with a person’s life. Situational anxiety can become chronic if not dealt with.
Self-talk is often a factor in anxiety, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not thin enough,” “(s)he’s better than me,” “I’m not tall enough, I’m ugly,”. The vital thing to remind yourself is that we’re all unique.
Go into a competition telling yourself that you’ll do your very best. Knowing that the judges are looking for a specific type of dancer and style and it has nothing to do with your own talent if you’re not placed, will help you feel more at ease. Judging is very subjective, so don’t worry if you don’t get placed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not good enough. Remember you are the most important person in your life, look after yourself.
Do not compare yourself with anyone else. Now write 100 lines…………
Speaking of writing, write down your intentions of what you want in the next year. Write it in positive terms, so don’t write “I don’t want….etc., only write what you want.
Also, on a practical note, only go for the auditions that you know you want and the ones you know that you can attain the standard that they are looking for, your time and energy are limited, use them wisely.
Preparing for competitions:
Visualisations work well when rehearsing or practising aspects of dance that you find difficult. Close your eyes, visualise yourself actually dancing whatever you want to improve on. What you visualise must be what you want it too look like – you doing it perfectly. Do this over and over again as if you are in rehearsal or class. You imagine yourself doing it perfectly every time. Do the visualisations on the bus, train and before going to sleep. No physical energy is expended but your brain is getting you used to dancing that piece perfectly. Then your mind and body work together when you actually get to dance it.
Good luck with your competitions and performances.
Terry Hyde MA MBACP
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