ONSTAGE ANXIETY: How to survive a Panic Attack Onstage

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You’ve been feeling a bit tired all day and have that weird pullie-vomie feeling in your stomach. You’re probably a bit woozy and “Jesus in a vice did it just get hot in here?” Show must go on though right? Come on, just get on with it, you’re not saving lives are you love?! Get on the stage and do what they pay you the semi-medium bucks for. Then you get on the stage and those lights are crackling bright and the sound is hurting and it’s making it very difficult to breathe. Now you really sorta can’t breathe; the more you try the less air you can find. You can’t really feel your legs anymore, even though surprisingly they are still at the end of your hips. Your face is hotter than the sun and you feel so dizzy it’s very possible someone just flicked the switch on your retinas. Any minute now you’re either going to pass out, vom or explode. Right here, in front of all these people. And that just turned the terror up a notch. It’s taking every single muscle attached to your bones to not run off the stage or for your tear ducts to burst their dams.

You have found yourself in the worst possible situation you could EVER imagine. Something catastrophically crippling is happening to you. You’re having a panic attack on stage.

This paralysising fear can happen at any time; on a shoot, in the studio, on a bus, but it’s especially terrifying in front of a live audience.

In this series ‘Onstage Anxiety’, we are going to go through the physical changes that are happening in your body during a panic attack, so we can understand how to tackle them, one slasher at a time.

More and more I hear about performers being traumatized after having a panic attack onstage. Funnily enough, it was probably fear that hooked you onto live shows in the first place, the stage fright, the nerves, the buzz. They are what drive performers to do their job, regardless of how blimming frazzled with adrenalin they are. But you expect that sort of fear, you are ready, you are armed, the fear has a place. Then of course there’s the fear that catches you off guard one day, the uninvited fear, and this of course begins one almighty and damaging scare cycle.

But having a panic attack onstage doesn’t have to be a matter of life or death. Once you understand what’s happening I promise you, you can come out on top and “always be prepared” like a ‘Suped-Up Scout’. You will begin to feel grateful to your body for being such a Ninja with fear, but be able to ‘Hadouken’ it into place when that sort of self defense is not needed.

But for now remember how adept you are at fighting your fear and stepping out in front of an audience when you need to. You have all the tools you need, you just need to rearrange your box a little.

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Part 2: The Real Reason you are Panicking
How to Tame Audition Anxiety, For Good
5 Essential Habits for Happy Actors
A Performers Guide to surviving the inbetween
How to save your universe, when the world is losing theirs

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Post Author: The Happy Performer

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