Do the butterflies in your stomach seem to turn into bats before each and every piano recital? You are not alone. Millions suffer from performance anxiety, or “stage fright,” from actors to professional athletes. But you don’t have to let this anxiety prevent you from letting your talent shine for the world to see!
Is anxiety affecting you before your piano recital? Look for these signs:
- Increased heart rate
- Trembling limbs or voice
- Dry mouth or difficulty speaking
- Cold, sweaty hands
- Nausea or feelings of unease
- Vision changes
- Poor sleep
- Difficulty concentrating at school or at work
If you recognize those symptoms, you’re not alone. But you can calm piano recital jitters with these scientifically proven tips:
Lean on a friend.
Phone a friend for a laugh or support before your piano recital. Multiple studies have shown social interaction boosts relaxation and decreases stress, helping you feel more confident and calm by enhancing your feelings of social stability and belonging.
Warm your ticklers.
A Yale study showed that wrapping your hands around something warm, such as a cup of tea, increases feelings of calm. Why? Stress triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, drawing blood and heat from your limbs to your core and sending signals to your brain that are interpreted as a sign of distress. Warm them up to switch the signal — and increase feelings of safety and comfort for your piano recital. Bonus tip: Black tea was found by a University College London study to lower cortisol more than placebo brews.
The endorphins produced during exercise are proven calm-inducers, according to research from Harvard Medical School. Bonus tip: Exercising outdoors in nature before your piano recital can boost that serenity.
Cut the clutter.
Physical clutter equals mental clutter. A Princeton study showed cutting clutter and organizing your surrounding environment boosts your sense of calm and order. All that clutter in your visual field overloads your brains neural pathways, increasing stress.
Don’t overlook the importance of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep affects not only your physical health, but anxiety and stress. Too little and it can make subsequent nights of restful sleep difficult to achieve, creating a vicious cycle of sleep problems. Make sure to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep for a few nights before your piano recital.
Smile, even though your heart is racing… Research suggests smiling and laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Ditch the donuts.
Research suggests sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety. Kick your cravings and opt for nutrient rich foods, especially those packed with Vitamin B, which improves mental health; omega-3s, which help reduce depression and anxiety; and whole-grain carbs, which help regulate the “feel-good” hormone serotonin.
Since most fears involve making mistakes, one of the best ways to beat piano recital anxiety is by knowing your material inside and out. In addition, prepare yourself beforehand by laying out clothes, keys, and any other necessities to prevent any additional anxieties associated with running behind schedule.
Research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden showed that music lowers blood pressure and stress hormones. However, not every song is a cure-all, so find the tunes that resonate best with you to reap the greatest rewards.
Scientists have discovered meditation increases grey matter in the brain, essentially rewiring the body to stress less. Meditation has positive effects on anxiety, mood, and stress symptoms, helping us analyze how our mind generates stressful thoughts and distance ourselves from them.
Kids and animals can easily play without ruminating on the things they “should” be doing. Playtime is not frivolous –in fact, experts say a variety of playtime activities can reduce stress.
Alarms and interruptions of all types, as well as persistent, even low-level noises can boost stress levels. Completely disconnecting from the radio, TV, alarms, cell phones, and internet (gasp!) can have a dramatic effect on stress and anxiety, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Don’t let your nerves run away with your piano recital. Rein them in with these proven tips, and you’ll be well on your way to performing and having a blast!
Bonus: Check out our infographic on preparing for your first piano recital!
Photo by MIKI Yoshihito