Singers, Lay Out the Welcome Mat for Anxiety

Doing the things that matter most will create fear. Embrace this fear — and learn how to manage it -says Eric Maisel

—from The Ultimate Guide to Singing: All aspects of a singer’s life are covered in this ultimate companion to your singing with Top Actions for Moving Ahead with Your Singing, Sound and Career. Contributed to by Over 100 professional contributors with 94 Grammys and Grammy nominations, 193 Books, 1,772 Albums and 280 million YouTube hits!

In order to create or perform, you must acknowledge and accept that anxiety is part of the process.

It’s time to demand of yourself that you will learn (and really practice!) some anxiety management skills.

Here are the top ten skills singers all over the world use:

1. Attitude choice
You can choose to be made anxious by every new opinion you hear or you can choose to keep your own counsel. You can choose to approach life anxiously or you can choose to approach it calmly. See yourself flipping an internal switch — one that you control.

2. Improved appraising
You can significantly reduce your experience of anxiety by refusing to appraise situations as catastrophically negative.

3. Lifestyle support
Your lifestyle supports calmness or it doesn’t. When you rush less, create fewer unnecessary pressures and stressors, get sufficient rest and exercise, eat a healthy diet, take time to relax, include love and friendship, and live in balance, you reduce your experience of anxiety.

4. Behavioral changes
What you actually do when you feel anxious makes a big difference. If a ten-minute shower or a twenty-minute walk can do as good a job of reducing your anxiety as watching another hour of televised golf or smoking several cigarettes, isn’t it the behavior to choose?

5. Deep breathing
The simplest anxiety management technique is deep breathing. By stopping to deeply breathe (five seconds on the inhale, five seconds on the exhale) you stop your racing mind and alert your body to the fact that you want to be calmer. Incorporate deep breaths into your daily routine.

6. Cognitive work
Changing the way you think is probably the most useful and powerful anti-anxiety strategy. There are three steps: 1) notice what you are saying to yourself; 2) dispute the self-talk that makes you anxious or does not serve you; and 3) substitute more affirmative, positive or useful self-talk.

7. Physical relaxation techniques
Physical relaxation techniques include such simple procedures as rubbing your shoulder and such elaborate procedures as “progressive relaxation techniques” where you slowly relax each part of your body in turn.

8. Mindfulness techniques
Meditation and other mindfulness practices help to release defeating thoughts and replace them with more affirmative ones.

9. Reorienting techniques
If your mind starts to focus on some anxiety-producing situation or if you feel yourself becoming too wary, watchful and vigilant, you can consciously turn your attention in another direction, reorienting yourself to an image or situation that brings happier thoughts.

10. Discharge techniques
Anxiety and stress build up in the body. Actors learn to vent this stress with a “silent scream,” engaging facial gestures and body movements that go with uttering a good cleansing scream —without actually uttering any sound.

If you intend to create or to perform, get ready for anxiety. It is coming! You can handle it beautifully if you use these simple tools and turn yourself into an anxiety management expert.

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