How To Calm Your Nerves Before A Show
Many performers suffer from pre-performance jitters and although normal, such nervous energy before a show can often have a detrimental impact on one's performance. Here we look at some techniques artists can use to keep their stage nerves in check.
Guest Post by Chris Grayston, excerpted from his new book 'The Secret to Success in the Music Industry, Hints & Tips to Help you Succeed!'
How to Calm Nerves: Most if not all people don’t know how to calm nerves before they head on stage and they are perfectly natural. Dealing with nerves can make you feel shaky and nauseous and can cause a lack of focus and concentration. Nerves are normal and help focus a performance so the key is to control nerves and to not let them take over you.
Learn to live with the nerves
You need to learn to live with the nerves and embrace them as in reality they will never go, you just must learn how to calm nerves and how to live with them.
On the day, the aim is to try and ease all tension and relax your body. This will ease your mind and steady your voice.
Watch what you eat and drink
Try having a small snack to settle your stomach, but not so you feel full. A banana is a good example with how to calm nerves. Chewing gum can help relieve tension in your jaw, but if you haven’t eaten, don’t chew for too long as it can cause digestion issues.
Avoid caffeine as it can enhance anxiety. Instead try drinking herbal tea or some lukewarm water. Ice cold or boiling hot water can shock your vocal cords and make them close up.
How to calm nerves
The best manner in how to calm nerves is to be confident in the first place. Having practised and performed so many times it becomes second nature and will reduce the amount of things that can go wrong. As always perform to friends, at open mic nights, film yourself, ask for feedback first and analyse.
The key with how to calm nerves is to visualise your performance and go through it step by step. Begin by thinking about heading down from the dressing room and following it through to going on stage and hitting those first notes.
Show up early! This will relieve any nerves about being late or having any last minute hitches.
Learning how to calm nerves
Call a friend
Who better to assist with how to calm nerves than your friends and family? It can help to talk over your issues and normalise and rationalise them. Laugh often! It helps with learning how to calm nerves in more ways than one. A hearty laugh fires up and cools down the body’s stress response. In a similar way to exercise, laughter can cause a temporary increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to a state of relaxation and help deal with nerves.
Consider whatever works best for you, so consider watching a comedy film in the morning or hanging around with friends before the show. Put yourself in a place where laughing will relax you and ease the nervousness.
Ahead of a gig in the evening try and get some exercise! Aim for at least half an hour. From a jog or a long walk to a weight lifting session, this will all release tension and get the endorphins going.
Walk away nervous energy
If nervous at the gig, walking around even for just ten minutes can help with how to calm nerves. Studies have shown that walking can help spark nerve sensors in the brain to relax the senses, so taking a walk even an hour before the event can help you feel more at ease.
Tips for how to calm nerves
Try meditating. It may sound silly, but it can help put you at ease. Mediation is not for all but for some people it can play a big part with how to calm nerves, although it takes some practice. Find yourself a quiet spot, preferably away from other people, and sit or lie in a comfortable position and shut your eyes. Think of anything that relaxes you, anything that isn’t your performance.
Close your eyes or focus your gaze on the floor and concentrate on your breathing. Feel the air fill your lungs and inhale and exhale to the count of three. Whilst in meditation mode, it’s important to let thoughts pass through your mind without judgement. Remember, we are working on how to calm nerves here, so try not to distract yourself with unnecessary thoughts.
Listen to music
Listening to music can also help deal with nerves; classical and jazz music have especially been proven to lower heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone levels.
Try creating a pre-show ritual. You would be surprised how many singers have one! Whether it's something as simple as having a game of pool two hours before the show or something more complex like an hour gym session followed by a walk and ending up with watching your favourite TV show, if it works for you and puts you at ease, do it!