Performance anxiety : how to overcome it ?

Written by: Loris Vitry (coach and Yoga teacher)
Validated by: Cathy Maillot (Osteopath)

Caution: If you have any medical questions or concerns, please speak to your doctor. Even if the articles on this site are based on scientific studies, they do not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Performance anxiety : how to overcome it ?
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Getting nervous before the start of an exam or presentation is normal, and it happens to everyone.

However, in some people, this desire to succeed becomes excessive to push them into a state of performance anxiety.

How to overcome this evil? We talk about it in this article.

Performance anxiety: what is it?

Performance anxiety is the emotional reaction that is caused by anticipating a dramatic event in which the individual will be assessed.

The anxiety (linked to a threat that may or may not be real) produces the stress hormones in her body that lead to physiological and psychological manifestations.

Although stress is a motive for success, when poorly managed, it leads to performance anxiety disorder, which is not without effect.

What are the causes of performance anxiety?

This state of excessive stress can be caused by specific causes or predispositions of the environment in which the subject finds himself.

Among others, we have:

  • the instability and unpredictability of the environment in which the person finds himself;
  • overprotection of the person when he was a child so that he did not learn to develop a defense against stress;
  • anxiety of loved ones or parents. It communicates fear to that person;
  • a very high and sometimes unrealistic expectation from relatives, spouse or parents of the person.

What are the manifestations of performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety manifests itself psychologically and physiologically.

The anxious individual has a negative perception of him in the academic context, leading to negative thoughts.

These negative thoughts can invade him during the three stages of the event he fears (before, during, and after).

He can say to himself during or before “that he is not going to go all the way,” and after “that he should have done better.”

Regarding his emotions, he is in a state of stress, of immense fear with significant discomfort during the evaluation.

He can also have panic attacks.

From a physiological point of view, he may have gastric disturbances, dizziness, breathing difficulties.

He can also have general fatigue, restless sleep, muscle aches, or even sweating.

This disorder can also manifest as a lack of concentration, panic, or headaches.

How to overcome performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety is an evil that can be overcome.

After diagnosing it, here are some methods to overcome it.

Talk to someone you trust

Opening your heart and talking about your feelings or anxieties with a close relative or trusted friend can free your head from negative thoughts.

If the person has the impression that they are no longer up to the task or are doing worse than before, talking about it will be ideal.

Indeed, the people around him may not be aware of the difficulties he is going through and will not be able to help him.

By taking outside advice or advice it can lead that person to get out of the stress they are going through.

Relieve stress

One of the best ways to get rid of stress is to exercise.

The most important thing is not to be the best in the sport you choose, but to move.

You can go skiing, dancing, biking and maybe even climbing.

All these activities will make you sweat, and you will forget your worries during this moment.

Also, physical activity, in addition to giving balance to life, promotes better concentration.

So, a tip is to keep a moment in your daily schedule to eliminate stress.

Take breaks

When the pressure comes, anxious people should take some time to assess it by asking themselves a few questions.

  • Why is it so important to succeed?
  • How will I feel if I fail?
  • Who am I afraid to disappoint?

Putting yourself in the place of someone who advises a friend is also a great way to deal with your stress.

Indeed, some people may be harder towards themselves than with others.

Thus, keep in mind that no one is perfect and that the best is simply to do well what we do.

Dare to fail

The primary motivation for performance anxiety is the fear of failure.

The person who is anxious about his performance must understand that failing is part of human existence.

Indeed, by meeting failure, the anxious person will do better next time thanks to the insights she gathered during her “failed” experiences.


When the flow of emotion reaches its peak, you have to stop for a few minutes to catch your breath.

One of the best solutions is to breathe deeply and slowly, keeping your eyes closed.

This person may repeat to themselves that “everything will be fine” until they feel their heart rate return to normal.

Vary the activities

By focusing on a single activity to perform or an only hobby, this person may find themselves very anxious about the idea of ​​failing.

So, it would be better to diversify the activities that she practices.

Thus, she will be able to increase her self-esteem by accumulating victories in the different spheres of activity that she will integrate.

Indeed, there will necessarily be at least one area where she will succeed.

Limit access to the media

Nowadays, social media and the media, in general, offer only a partial view of real life, making it so glamourous and unrealistic that anxious people can feel overwhelmed and deeply dissatisfied with their “normal” life.

Consequently, it sets unrealistic goals, the achievement of which is complicated, if not impossible.

So, if the anxious person identifies an attachment to social networks or media as a cause of his performance anxiety, he will have to limit his access to it.

Thus, performance anxiety is excessive stress that can be overcome by following the tips above.

However, if a person who suffers from it cannot find a solution by these means, he should consult a professional to find a solution.

A health professional can help them better understand and remedy this thanks to their expertise.


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