Get Excited to Conquer Performance Anxiety
The recommended self-help strategies for coping with anxiety, particularly to conquer performance anxiety before big meetings and public speaking, seems to be "Stay calm." However, a recent study suggests that getting excited, the exact opposite of remaining calm, may be more effective at conquering performance anxiety.
The Science to Conquer Performance Anxiety
The groundbreaking study aims to challenge conventional wisdom on conquering performance anxiety. The study proved simple but yielded significant results. First, lead researchers asked subjects to engage in anxiety-inducing tasks such as singing karaoke and making short public speeches. Subjects were also instructed to tell themselves “I am anxious,” “I am excited,” or nothing beforehand. Researchers then measured the performance and overall confidence of subjects from all three groups.
Prior to the study, most participants (85 percent) believed “remaining calm” to be the best advice in the face of an anxiety-inducing task. However, the results of the study prove quite the opposite. In fact, participants in the excited condition improved performance and gave better speeches than participants who told themselves, “I am anxious.”
Making Sense of Getting Excited to Conquer Performance Anxiety
On the surface, remaining calm often appears to be the best advice for conquering performance anxiety. But anxiety induces a state of high arousal while calm implicates a state of low arousal. Radically different emotions, anxiety and calm may conflict and prove ultimately ineffective as a formula for success. On the contrary, anxiety and excitement are two similar emotions that may complement one another to help you better cope with performance anxiety.
Why Not Get Excited?
Imagine giving a speech with the goal of remaining calm in the midst of performance anxiety. Consider also how the conflicting emotions can work against you. When you try to remain calm (or in a low state of arousal), anxiety can be your worst enemy. Focus instead on getting excited and you might find anxiety to be your friend. The next time performance anxiety gets you all worked up, why not get excited about it? You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
D'Aconti, A. (2014, January 9). Get Excited to Conquer Performance Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/01/get-excited-not-calm-to-conquer-performance-anxiety