Have the jitters - Dream Health

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Sunday 4 December 2011

Have the jitters

For some, public speaking causes a paralyzing fear. According to a Gallup poll conducted among Americans, glossophobie or fear of public speaking is the most common phobia, than other forms of terror inspired by the needles, heights, thunder, spiders and the aircraft .

Performance anxiety or stage fright, strikes at the worst time in anyone - students, CEO, father of the bride, American Idol contestants. It is quite natural to be nervous. We were all seized with irrational anxiety before an important event, a job interview or a presentation to the class. For some people, however, anxiety and physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, muscle tension, restlessness, sudden weakness, difficulty breathing, fast or irregular heartbeat, nausea, or sore stomach can be overwhelming.

The fear factor

What are the causes of this troubling physical reaction (and inconvenient)? Our stress response is actually a useful purpose - our body helps us to face immediate danger.

Imagine you've just accidentally hit a nest of wasps or as you prepare to sing in front of a judge's remarks as particularly scathing Simon Cowell. The reaction of fight or flight that takes hold of your body is suddenly triggered by your autonomic nervous system, which governs your body functions such as heartbeat, digestion, respiration and perspiration. When you experience stress, your autonomic nervous system changes to "red alert", flooding your system with stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). This release of hormones causes an acceleration of heart rate and elevated blood pressure, and you feel a surge of energy to face the danger. At the same time, your body reduces the energy input to the functions that do not serve you in the short term, such as digestion and reproduction. When you are immune to wasp or comments from Simon Cowell, the rate of stress hormones drops, your heart slows down and you find your usual calm.


If you prefer to eat a ton of HabaƱero peppers rather than go on stage and speak or sing in front of a crowd, you're not alone. Fortunately, you can take steps to gain more confidence and unlock the word.

The most important thing is to alleviate your anxiety to feel more comfortable in front of a group of people. Prepare yourself as best you can. If you need to give a speech, either to shareholders or guests at your wedding, do you practice out loud and in front of a group of friends who encourage you. During your practice, use of cue cards, microphone and any visual aids you plan to include, allowing you to get used to the facilities. Imagine you give a nice speech and the applause that you will receive from your audience.

If you want to gain more confidence to sing in public, take the microphone in a karaoke bar or join an amateur choir - no one expects a performance of the caliber of Andrea Bocelli, then relax you and have fun.

Simple relaxation techniques can help you, such as deep breathing exercises or muscle relaxation for gradual (contracting each muscle group for a few seconds before releasing). Meditation, practiced regularly, can ease tension and calm the mind. The visualization exercises are useful too - you've probably heard the suggestion to imagine the audience in the nude, but you can also take a few minutes to see a quiet place where you feel calm and at peace.

To acquire technical speaker, take a public speaking course offered by a university, community center or library. Join Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org - page in English) - with thousands of active clubs in the world. (You see? Evidence that you are not alone.) Hire a coach that specializes in theater to improve your performance on stage, or try hypnosis to overcome the turmoil preceding your benefit. Regular exercise also helps you combat the effects of stress and tension.

Some drugs may be considered. Beta-blockers such as propranolol, are used in the treatment of hypertension and certain heart conditions and can be taken before a stressful situation, such as public speaking or giving a performance on stage. Talk to your doctor (you should know that beta blockers have potential side effects).

Stress that persists

If you are often faced with intense stress or a prolonged state of anxiety, you may be suffering a more serious problem than fear of the stage. It may be a generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress or other anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and phobias. Sometimes the problem may result from an underlying medical condition, such as the thyroid.

Prolonged stress can interfere with daily activities and lead to physical health problems such as heart disease, weight gain, depression and digestive disorders. Also, ask your doctor about treatment options and changes you can make in your lifestyle as soon as possible. Try not to fall back on alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs or foods to avoid negative feelings.

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