Can I Cure Performance Anxiety By Myself?
By Sarah Fader
Updated October 18, 2019
Reviewer Prudence Hatchett, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
Have you ever been so scared to do something that you inevitably froze or performed even worse than you anticipated? If so, you are not alone. Many people have also gone through similar situations, and this type of anxiety is portrayed in several movies and television shows. The question you may ask yourself, if you suffer from this, is "Can I cure performance anxiety by myself?"
What is Performance Anxiety?
Performance anxiety is essentially when a person worries about a problem to the point where it begins to affect them physically. There are two common types of performance anxiety- stage fright and sexual performance.
In this article, we will take a closer look at two of the most common forms of performance anxiety and discuss tips for how to combat them.
Stage fright performance anxiety refers to the anxiety that stems from performing or speaking in a public setting. This is common- as many people feel some form of 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 their partner sexually. This is very common among adult men- more so than women-, especially since men of older age tend to have a higher risk of developing other sexual complications. Some of these include erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, which directly contribute to performance anxiety. 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.
Causes and Symptoms of Performance Anxiety
Stage fright and sexual anxiety both stem from similar causes; they are both brought about from a "fear of self" - the idea of confronting one's vulnerability and accepting one's flaws and limitations.
A person may suffer performance anxiety if they have low self-esteem or inexperience in performing in front of others. While some people may only experience brief and tentative bouts of anxiety, others will experience chronic and recurring anxiety. Major anxiety can prevent a person from living a normal life. Anxiety can rob a person of their joy, and they may experience physical, mental, and emotional symptoms as a result.
Causes of sexual performance anxiety may include poor body image, (thinking you're not attractive or you need to hide your flaws), problems in the relationship, and physical problems with erectile dysfunction, which can also be caused by certain heart conditions. Eventually, those who suffer from sexual performance anxiety will become completely impotent or develop a very weak sexual stamina- if they don't explore treatment.
The main problem is that the more anxious you become, the more likely your body's "fight or flight" mechanism will react. This is the same extreme reaction that occurs when a person is attacked. In addition to negative feelings, physical symptoms may include a racing pulse and rapid breathing, a tight throat and difficulty breathing, trembling hands or legs, cold or sweaty hands, vision problems, nausea, and diarrhea- among other things.
Sexual performance anxiety may or may not bring about the "fight or flight" response, but the consequences can be just as significant. Some men might become so anxious about their sexual performance that they're no longer able to enjoy the experience.
The Problem with Performance Anxiety
Keep in mind that even mild anxiety, which may stem from sexual anxiety or stage fright, can eventually escalate into major anxiety. This can go 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.
The real problem with performance anxiety is that if left untreated, anxiety caused by public performance or sexual performance, can escalate into panic disorder. A Panic disorder is a period of intense fear that can involve heart palpitations, a pounding heart, trembling, choking, and an overwhelming feeling of impending doom. If you continually react to stress with "fight or flight" chemical reactions, major episodes of anxiety may start to affect you regularly throughout the day or even the entire week. Sometimes these episodes are triggered by small and seemingly insignificant occurrences; other times they seem to occur for no reason at all.
Furthermore, this performance anxiety could also lead to a social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder involves a phobia of socializing or public performance. The sufferer may feel embarrassed, judged, or rejected and may fear being publicly embarrassed.
Sexual problems are 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 even Parkinson's disease. Seeing a doctor may be crucial to avoiding serious injury or other issues that may result in premature death.
Remember 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. In some cases, it can even cause a heart attack or premature artery disease.
At this point, curing the anxiety on your own probably isn't the best option for treatment. It might be time to seek professional counseling and or visit a doctor. Seeing a doctor will help to rule out possible health concerns, such as low blood sugar or overactive thyroid, which are known to cause problems with depression and anxiety.
Is There A Cure for Performance Anxiety?
According to Web MD, stage fright is ideally "cured" by gaining more experience in public speaking, 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 your fear. This may require professional mentoring, in order to learn techniques to help combat this anxiety.
Usually, in sexual performance anxiety, the first step is seeing a sex therapist. However, many men and women might feel awkward about confessing their "secret flaws" to a stranger and may choose to avoid getting help altogether. Luckily, you don't have to share your complications in the bedroom with anyone else. There is discreet and comfortable online therapy that will help you conquer any and all of your issues available with BetterHelp, which we will discuss later.
Can You Cure Anxiety by Yourself?
Naturally, many people would rather address these issues on their own and not have to admit their anxieties to another person. There's a plethora of available knowledge online on how to decrease anxiety and gain back control of your life. Some of it is meditative in nature, as in learning to redirect negative thoughts to more positive and realistic scenarios. Some involve improving one's self-esteem, as this is almost always considered a priority, even in clinical practice, in getting over performance anxiety.
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 diet has been linked to both anxiety and sexual dysfunction, as well as poor sleeping habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Creating and committing to goals in these respects and following through could help a person to recover from this extreme anxiety and avoid the need to seek professional help. An anxious person may feel even more anxious if he or she feels ashamed when going to get the help they need. Since getting help only increases their anxiety, many internet users prefer to solve these problems on their own. The following are some things you can try on your own, to help you overcome your anxiety.
- Make Sure You're Getting Enough Sleep
If you're not getting enough sleep at night, your body is going to naturally feel an overall decrease in energy and motivation. This can lead to frustration and anxiety, which can ultimately lead to performance anxiety. Try getting an extra hour or two of sleep in your schedule and see how you feel afterwards.
- Yoga or Meditation
Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help you prevent performance anxiety by reducing stress and other related factors. Consider a brief 20 minute session to start your day off, and the results will speak for themselves.
- Talk to Your Partner
If your sexual performance anxiety is starting to cause problems in the bedroom between you and your partner, it might serve you both well to communicate with each other. This might prove difficult, as it can sometimes feel embarrassing or humiliating to your pride. Be that as it may, simply talking to one another might go a long way in relieving stress, frustration, and anxiety in bed.
If you suffer from anxiety, try some of these methods and see what works best for you. Even a professional would encourage you first to try a conservative treatment, such as improving your lifestyle and daily routine.
Proper Care for Performance Anxiety
If you've reached the point where your "fight or flight" response is constantly going off and filling you with overwhelming adrenaline, 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 uncontrollable 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, socializing with strangers, or even 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.
How BetterHelp Can Support You
Thanks to BetterHelp, you can log into an online counseling portal and get the help you need immediately- at an affordable price. Online counseling works with your schedule, and it also provides therapy sessions without a contract or suggested timeframe.
You have your choice of chatting discreetly via text or, if you prefer, over the phone or on a video chat. Our incredible staff is made up of doctors, counselors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals who really care about helping people. Check out some of our counselor reviews below- from people experiencing similar issues.
"Natasha has been a truly amazing counselor! I now feel that I have the confidence to face challenges as they come. Natasha helped me to reflect on why I might be feeling a certain way, while providing me with some tools to cope with my anxiety as needed. She was incredibly understanding and helped me to set realistic goals with myself and others. Not only can I tell that our counseling sessions helped, but also others have commented on the positive changes I have made. She's awesome!"
"When I first started seeing Vanessa, I was very nervous, scared to death even. Yet in such a short time, I learned I could share my feelings and thoughts without doubting myself or others. I'll forever be grateful for Venessa and her empathy, and words of wisdom. I look forward now to the next chapter in my life and I have her to thank for it."
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. You deserve to be happy, so let us help. Take the first step today.