The term “performance anxiety” is not a technical term. It can cover a wide range of activities. However, when used, it most often refers to feeling fear, dread, or panic about performing a task. This fear often begins long before the task begins. It usually involves a sense that “failure” is near and this will leave you humiliated.
Perhaps the two most common versions of performance anxiety involve being on stage and having sex. Both will be discussed below. Either activity can cause some nervousness. There’s nothing abnormal about that. When such anxiety causes a disruption in your daily life some professional guidance can be helpful.
Fire up the nearest search engine and you’ll find some high-profile figures who experienced this type of performance anxiety. It’s not connected to someone’s level of talent. The major factors are anxiety, lack of confidence, and fear of failure. As a result, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your belief in your own inadequacy fuels the increased likelihood that you will not live up to your expectations.
Symptoms of Stage Fright
- Shaky hands and voice
- Sweaty palms
- Elevated heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Making mistakes during the performance
- Backing out of a performance or declining any such invitation
Overcoming Stage Fright
- Meditate on calming thoughts
- Try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga
- Practice daily self-care
- Visualize yourself giving a good performance and really experience what it feels like
- Prepare in advance
- Maintain a confident posture
- Recognize that perfection is not a realistic goal for anyone
Sexual Performance Anxiety
(Since this is far more common for men, we’ll focus there.)
Some of the same factors are in play here. You may feel vulnerable and exposed. Other factors include:
- Worry that you will not satisfy your partner
- Body image factors including penis size
- Emotional issues with your sex partner or previous sex partners
- Trying to live up to unhealthy pornographic images
- Concern that you will orgasm “too soon” or take “too long”
- Dealing with mental health issues at the same time
Any of the above anxiety-related thought patterns can lead to your body releasing extra stress hormones to deal with a perceived threat. This, in turn, can reduce blood flow to the penis. Once again, you’re stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Overcoming Sexual Performance Anxiety
Firstly, it is essential that you see a medical doctor. Make certain that the cause is not physical in nature. Once you’re sure it’s psychological, you can proceed along those lines. As with stage fright, some standards apply, e.g. relaxation techniques, visualization, and daily self-care. Other suggestions:
- Occasional dysfunction is common. So, avoid overreacting to one or two episodes. Sometimes our bodies do not react the way we want them to react
- Talk openly with your partner. Share your worries and get their input. This can feel challenging at first but it often changes the entire vibe for the better.
- Allow yourself to focus on your senses when being intimate. You can tune down the thinking and tune up the awareness. Focus on sensations from head to toe.
- Slow down. Foreplay is a powerful way to get both of you into a healthy sexual place.
- Recognize that perfection is not a realistic goal for anyone. Again, sometimes our bodies do not work the way we want them to work.
You May Need a “Performance Coach”
In just about any other part of life, we see it as wise to consult an expert when we’re struggling. For any version of performance anxiety, you can gain valuable insight and confidence from meeting with a therapist. The root cause is anxiety. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the world. So, why not address this underlying issue with someone equipped to offer help? Let’s connect soon to talk about this.
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