You’ve practiced for months, week after week, and with each lesson, you feel more confident and stronger in your abilities.  You know your routines, and you’ve drilled technique skills countless times in your head.  Unfortunately, time and time again, when competition day arrives, the dreadful monster called “Fear” and “Anxiety” overtake your joy.  How can you push those demons away forever?

Thoughts overpower your mind: “Why do I do this?”, “I hate competition!”, “I’m going to forever everything.”, “Ann/John Doe is so much better than me.”, “ I feel like I want to throw up.”, “I’m going to mess up.” . “I feel like I want to throw up.”  Know that these feelings and thoughts may and run through the minds of all the master dancers, and for a few of them, maybe they still do, but know that with a few simple techniques, you can overcome your fears and learn to enjoy the thrill of competition.

Years ago, my college theatre professor taught me a valuable lesson that I have used throughout my life.  I told him how terrible my stage fright was before the opening of our college play.  He grabbed my shoulders, turned me to face him, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Everyone has butterflies. It’s simply adrenaline.  The trick is, to make your butterflies fly in formation.”  Wow! That simple, huh?  I did not understand the value of that lesson for a while, but then it all made sense.  With each competition now, I get excited to feel that feeling.  I take a deep breath and allow that what I once thought to be “negative” energy, to drive me forward and enjoy the ride.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, here are 10 other healthy tips to help you face your monsters and enjoy your time to shine on stage.

  1. Shift the focus from yourself and your fear to your true purpose—contributing something of value to your audience.
  2. Stop scaring yourself with thoughts about what might go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring.
  3. Refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.
  4. Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation.
  5. Exercise, eat well, and practice other healthful lifestyle habits. Try to limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible.
  6. Visualize your success: Always focus on your strength and ability to handle challenging situations.
  7. Prepare your material in advance and read it aloud to hear your voice.
  8. Make connections with your audience: Smile and greet people, thinking of them as friends rather than enemies.
  9. Stand or sit in a self-assured, confident posture. Remain warm and open and make eye contact.
  10. Give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes. Be natural, be yourself.

I’ll reintegrate my own 11th step –  Know that the butterflies are simply excitement, and make them fly in formation towards your love of dance.

Patricia Brown has been dancing since she was eight. She took up country and western ball room 11 years ago and has not looked back since. She began as an amateur and is now a professional instructor, with eight World titles.  She believes movement is medicine and she overdoses most everyday.  She spends her days training clients in her gym as a personal fitness and health coach and her nights teaching ballet tap and jazz.  During her extra time, she enjoys practicing with her dance partner, playing golf, or traveling with her husband, Daniel.
FB pages include: Motions Dance , Motions Fitness

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