Can I Cure Performance Anxiety By Myself?
By Sarah Fader
Updated June 12, 2019
Reviewer Prudence Hatchett, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
The term "performance anxiety" could be referring to very different things-which are ironically caused by the same condition in the first place. It's when a person worries about a problem so much that it starts to affect him or her physically.
Stage fight performance anxiety refers to the anxiety that comes from performing or speaking in public. This is not surprising since many people feel anxiety when they have to perform in front of a large group of people. Sexual performance anxiety is the anxiety and fear associated with a person performing for his/her partner sexually. Men often suffer from performance anxiety more so than women, especially since men will frequently develop other sexual problems like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, which directly contribute to performance anxiety.
"Don't worry, honey…it happens to every guy!" Just hearing those words can be stressful to a man since his sexual performance is closely connected to his ego, self-esteem and overall happiness in the relationship. Most men want to be thought of by their partner(s) as virile and eager to please. Therefore, when a man's body doesn't seem to cooperate, he feels great anxiety, and this begins to affect his sex life.
The same basic principle is true for stage fright. A person may suffer performance anxiety if they have low self-esteem or inexperience in performing in front of others. The problem is that while some people may only experience brief and tentative bouts of anxiety, others will experience chronic and recurring anxiety. Major anxiety can be socially crippling-it can prevent a person from living a normal life. Anxiety can rob a person of their joy in life, and they may experience physical as well as mental and emotional symptoms.
The problem is, the more anxious you become, the more likely your body's "fight or flight" mechanism will react. This is the same extreme reaction that happens when a person is attacked. In addition to negative feelings, physical symptoms may be a racing pulse and rapid breathing, tight throat and difficulty breathing, trembling hands or legs, cold or sweaty hands, vision problems, nausea, diarrhea and so on.
Sexual performance anxiety may or may not bring about the "fight or flight" response, but the worst has already happened. The man is so anxious about his sexual performance; he's now distracted from enjoying the experience. Not surprisingly, he brings out more physical symptoms like erectile dysfunction because of the extreme anxiety.
Causes Of Performance Anxiety
Stage fright anxiety and sexual anxiety are similarly caused problems. They both stem from a "fear of self" - the idea of confronting one's vulnerability and accepting their flaws and limitations.
According to Web MD, stage fright is ideally "cured" by gaining more experience in public speaking, then learning to accept criticism, and letting go of the need to "prove" something to others. Accepting yourself and taking joy in your performance is essential in getting over the fear. This may require professional mentoring so that actual techniques could be learned to help the performer.
Usually, in sexual performance anxiety, the first cure volunteered is seeing a sex therapist. However, many men and women feel awkward about confessing their "secret flaws" to a stranger and may avoid getting help altogether. Naturally, avoiding the problem and not seeking a solution only makes the problems worse over time.
Causes of sexual performance anxiety may include a poor body image of one's self (thinking you're not attractive and wanting to "hide" your flaws), problems in the relationship, and physical problems with erectile dysfunction-which actually can be caused by heart problems, a major medical condition! Eventually, men can become completely impotent or develop very weak sexual stamina if they don't explore treatment.
Can You Cure Anxiety By Yourself?
Naturally, many people would rather address these issues on their own and not admit their anxieties to another person. There is some publicly available knowledge on how to decrease anxiety. Some of it is meditative in nature; as in learning to redirect negative thoughts to more positive and realistic scenarios. Improving one's self-esteem is almost always a priority, even in clinical practice.
In recent years, more emphasis has been put on learning more productive and healthier ways of dealing with anxiety, rather than relying solely on medication. For example, anxious people are told to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Controlled breathing, relaxation techniques, and exercising are also natural stress relief remedies.
Poor dieting has been linked to anxiety as well as sexual dysfunction, as well as poor sleeping habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Making goals in these respects and following through could help a person to recover from the extreme anxiety and avoid seeking professional help. An anxious person may feel even more anxiety if he or she feels shamed when going to get help. This is why many Internet users will prefer to solve these problems on their own, since getting help only increases the anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, try some of these methods and see if they work. Even a professional would encourage you first to try conservative treatment, such as improving your lifestyle and daily routine.
What If Nothing Else Works?
However, keep in mind that major anxiety, which may start from sexual anxiety or stage fright, can eventually escalate into major anxiety. This is far beyond regular bouts of anxiety, depression, and isolation. Generalized anxiety disorder can last for months and involve symptoms like muscle tension, irritability, insomnia, and difficulty in concentrating. Panic disorder is periods of intense fear that can involve heart palpitations, pounding heart, trembling, choking and feeling of impending doom. Social anxiety disorder involves a phobia of socializing or public performance. This sufferer may feel embarrassed, judged, rejected or fear of public embarrassment.
The real problem with performance anxiety is that if left untreated, anxiety caused by public performance, or sexual performance, can escalate into panic disorder. If you continually react to stress with "fight or flight" chemical reactions, major episodes of anxiety may start to affect you regularly throughout the week or even throughout the day. Sometimes these episodes are triggered by small and seemingly insignificant occurrences. Sometimes they seem to happen for no reason at all.
At this point, curing the anxiety problem on your own will not be an option. You may have to seek professional counseling and or a doctor's visit. The reason for seeing a doctor is to rule out possible health concerns, such as low blood sugar or overactive thyroid, which are known to cause problems with depression and anxiety.
Sexual problems are also nothing to ignore. While performance anxiety is sometimes self-treatable, more serious problems like erectile dysfunction may be directly related to serious health risks, like heart disease, diabetes or Parkinson's. Seeing a doctor may be crucial to avoiding serious injury or premature death!
Remember also that living with anxiety, rather than seeking help for it, can also cause a host of physical problems. The fight or flight response generates extra "fuel" in the body, and when it's not used for a purpose it can cause serious disorders related to digestion or immune system function, and in some cases can even cause a heart attack or premature artery disease.
Help For Performance Anxiety Discreetly And Safely
The bottom line is that if you have reached that point where your fight or flight response is constantly going off and filling you with adrenaline you can't handle, it is extremely difficult to conquer performance anxiety or social anxiety by yourself. If anything in life has given you an extreme phobia, to the point where you cannot live a normal life without crippling anxiety, then it's best to seek professional treatment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is guided, professional counseling that works with patients to take progressive steps in managing their anxiety. Over time, they will lose their fear, whether it's public speaking, or socializing with strangers, or even the fear of performing sexually.
If you have problems with anxiety and want a solution that will last - as opposed to tentative solutions that only distract from the problem - then the best option is to seek professional counseling.
The good news is that thanks to sites like http://www.BetterHelp.com/start/ you can log in to an online counseling portal and get the help you need immediately and at an affordable price. Online counseling works with your schedule, regardless of your hours. It also provides therapy sessions without a contract or suggested timeframe. You only pay for the sessions you attend. You have your choice of chatting discreetly via text, or if you prefer, over the phone or with a web camera. The Better Help staff is made up of doctors, counselors, nurses and other medical professionals. Every single one is licensed and experienced in helping people just like you.
You don't have to let anxiety control your life. Think of the person you could be -
Your true self - if you were able to learn how to get rid of fear, doubt, ruminating thoughts and other obsessive worrying behaviors. You don't have to live your life in fear or constant dread. Help is now just one click away!