An excellent article in a recent Wall Street Journal lays out a better way to deal with performance anxiety. Though most of us (91%) think of calming down as the proper response to stage jitters the proven better alternative is to welcome the anxiety as a performance enhancer.
In other words, it’s better to tell yourself, “I am excited,” than to give the aspirational lie, “I am calm.”
Not only does your audience rate you better, and your performance on objective criteria rises, but you will find the event less taxing.
According to the article this simple trick of stress-mindset may even be effective at avoiding burnout.
The article doesn’t mention this, but it seems wise to see that there is a difference between the stress that accompanies a moment of high-performance, and the chronic stress of worry.
I’m sure you should still find times in the day and week to unplug and seek a lower level of energy. But in the moment when performance is necessary it is clearly better to be truthful about your emotions, accept them, and have faith that they will elevate your performance.