How to Manage Your Anxiety and Perform at Your Best
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Let's get real here. Everyone gets anxious over something and to me, this is a good thing. It shows that you are self-aware and you have a healthy amount of humility. But what you don't want is anxiety that keeps you from performing at your best. Back in the day, I used to think that I was no good at presenting. I didn't like all of the attention and all I would think about was if my face was turning red or what would happen if I blanked out and forgot what to say. These discouraging thoughts most definitely kept me from doing my best work, but over the years I've learned ways to cope with anxiety and make it work for me. Since then, I actually enjoy presenting and I even spoke at both of my college graduations! I welcome situations that push me out of my comfort zone because they give me an opportunity to grow. Read on to learn how I manage anxiety in order to perform at my best.
1. It's not about you.
This needs to be your mindset from the beginning. People don't really care that much about you and if they do, it's none of your business! We need to stop thinking so much about ourselves because then we get caught up in what's not important and this keeps us from making an impact. (A little tough love for ya!)
Some people can wing it, but let's face it, I'm not one of those people. In order to feel prepared, I need to practice. This helps me identify where I will get stuck and what I need to do to move forward. It's also important to note that this doesn't only apply to things like presentations. Think difficult conversations, big exams, interviews, and more.
3. Put it in perspective.
I know people always say this, but what's the worst thing that could happen?? So, you fail. This gives you the opportunity to learn and do even better next time. Think of failure as the beginning rather than the end.
4. Get comfortable.
If you can, get familiar with the space that the anxiety-inducing situation will be taking place in. This will give you the lay of the land so you won't be distracted by your surroundings and you'll be able to focus on the task at-hand.
5. Get big.
Your body language may not be able to break you, but it can help make you. Own the space you're in (think Super Woman pose). You will feel more confident, assertive and in-control.
6. Break the ice.
This can be applied in a few ways. To break the ice, I like to crack a joke or ask a question as well as just flat out say that I'm nervous. I find that once I break the ice, my anxiety seems to break at the same time.
7. Choose the right focus.
This tip has been extremely helpful for me. Focus on the message that you want to get across rather than worrying about the people that you're performing in front of or what your body is doing (AKA where do I put my hands??). My brain is not very good at thinking about two things at once so if I don't focus on my message, I will inevitably get lost.
8. Remember, you're the expert.
There's a reason that you're in the situation you're in. You've prepared for this moment and you likely know more about what you're doing or talking about than anyone else. This should give you confidence. Having said that, it is okay to not have all of the answers. If you don't know something, just be honest. People are surprisingly forgiving.
9. Channel the energy.
Whether you are anxious or excited, the adrenaline is flowing. I like to "trick" my brain into thinking I'm actually excited instead of nervous. I tell myself that it's an adventure! Occasionally, I like to pretend that I'm acting because when I feel like I'm putting on a performance, it helps me get outside of my comfort zone.
10. Smile. Breathe. Enjoy.
Smiling will make you appear confident and breathing will help keep you calm. I speak from experience when I say it's possible to teach yourself to enjoy stressful situations so just focus on becoming a little better each time. Make yourself proud!
How do you manage your anxiety? Let me know in the comments! If you found this post helpful, please share using the buttons below.