Good ole anxiety. Just like an annoying neighbor who will show up un announced, stay for much longer than welcomed, and leaves you with a mess to clean up. That sounds fun, right? This analogy is one that I think we can all relate to, and one that we wish didn’t exist. Much like that annoying neighbor, we cannot necessarily predict when/how anxiety will show up, and we can learn to manage it more effectively. Anxiety is especially challenging when it spikes right before we go on stage or get up to the podium or enter into a competition situation. One of the most effective things that we can do is normalize anxiety, and then use it to our advantage. You might be asking, how? Say something like “my anxiety is showing up again.” You first normalize and acknowledge that anxiety is present and then begin to start centering your thoughts and emotions by focusing on your breath. Notice the rising and falling of your stomach, when your mind starts to wander, just simply bring your attention back to the breath. Controlling your breath will help to regulate your body’s physiology. Once your heart has stopped pounding and you feel more calm, then pick a focus word or visual point to keep coming back to when you begin to feel the anxiety creep up again, this will help to center you. Lastly, don’t focus on the outcome, just focus on the task at hand. Focusing on the outcome will make the moment less effective and it will just serve to increase your anxiety. One of the most important things to remember, is that anxiety is not the enemy, and worry about worrying will not help you to feel calm. Try these skills next time you are in a performance situation or maybe even when your annoying neighbor arrives at your door 🙂