We meet again!
And honestly, how lucky am I to have YOU sitting on your iPhone/laptap interested in whatever the hell I have to say!? Cheers to that – and thank you!
Alrighty – let’s get going.
We can ALL admit (especially as performing artists) that sometimes we totally allow nerves, insecurities, adrenaline, anxiety, stress ETC. ETC. to get the best of us. There’s no denying that in some cases those emotions are necessary and actually ASSIST in our successes – but there’s also no denying that sometimes those emotions act too intensely and end up unintentionally defeating us.
In this post, I have laid out helpful, scientifically proven tips that can assist in finding that happy medium between good adrenaline and bad adrenaline.
How can we cure stress IMMEDIATELY? For instance – in an audition, before a performance, in an open class, etc.
My first couple of tips come from one of my professors, Jennifer Edwards. (mentioned in “Let’s Start Saving that Moolah”) She received these tips through both personal experience and outside research.
Edwards talks about how stress is stimulated and initiated by chemical responses – hormones and neurotransmitters. aka: EVERYTHING WE DO! That’s right – every single step we take, every decision we make, and every emotion we feel is controlled by these hormones and neurotransmitters. She told us how “stress is necessary and apart of our autonomic nervous system.” This sophisticated system, controls everything thats automatic. It prepares us for our fight or flight response – AND that’s what I’m getting at. The same chemical reactions that occur when we are being chased by a bear, also occur when we are about to walk into that audition, attempt that really hard combination, or step into the lights on that stage. A FREAKING BEAR, Y’ALL! For real? Yes. A freaking bear. Now, that’s straight up nonsense. No worries, though! Luckily we have another system that counteracts the autonomic nervous system. The handy dandy parasympathetic nuero system! Big words – I know! But it’s actually quite simple.
An easy way to decipher between the two:
Autonomic Nervous System = Brain —> Body
Parasympathetic Nuero System = Body —> Brain
This trusty parasympathetic nuero system has the ability to bring us back to an “active state of relaxation”, and WE can control when it steps in and overpowers our nervous systems. Of course, if you’re being chased by a bear, don’t mess with the parasympathetic guy – let Mr. Autonomic keep ya alive, BUT if you’re about to step into an audition, it’s probably a good idea to call upon some sense of leisure.
There are two things that we have total control of that can seriously and scientifically calm our nervous systems into understanding that we are, in reality, not running from a bear – just simply about to perform some choreography. God damn it, it sounds so hilarious. So dramatic. But it’s REAL!
- Respiration – BREATHE!
- Relax your neck
- Clasp your hands behind your back and open your sternum/heart
- Open your hands
We’ve all heard it a million times – “just take a deep breath.” But the fact of the matter is, when we, as humans, take a second to voluntarily inhale and exhale, we are forcing the nuero system to take over that vicious (yet necessary) nervous system. Relax your neck, clasp your hands behind your back and open up your sternum/heart, and then release your palms forward opening your fingers as widely as possible.
Think about it – if a bear (Oh, God, I need to find another example, but this bear thing just really makes me laugh/realize how ridiculously we allow our minds to rule our actions.) ANYWAYS – if a bear were actually chasing us, would we seriously think about relaxing our neck or opening our palms toward something that has so much power to potentially kill us? HELL NO! This allows the brain to overpower the nerves and understand that we are OK. It tells our nervous system that we actually don’t need to be secreting THAT much adrenaline.
Take control of those damn eyelids – tell em who’s boss! Make eye contact with someone. (Hopefully you have a friend near, so you don’t look like a total creep staring some random person fiercely in the eyes.) Like I mentioned above – if you were being chased by a bear, would you stop and stare at it in the eyes? I’d sure hope not. haha. Same thing is working here -you are using your body to tell your brain/nervous system that you aren’t in danger. Pretty fascinating!
The next and last part of this post will touch upon a TED talk by Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are. And holy shit y’all, this stuff is SO good, it had me in tears.
I have provided the video link so that you have the opportunity to listen and experience it for yourself – but bottom line, Cuddy expresses her interest and research on how your body language can directly effect your brain, which in return can directly effect your outcome.
She leaves you with the advice to stand in a “high power pose” for just two minutes before you enter your next stressful situation, and she backs it up with numerous scientifically proven facts that merely changing your stance changes the hormones being produced by your brain. She shares personal life experience and speaks rawly and honestly about her passion for this game changing research. Thank you, Amy Cuddy!
LOOK IT UP. WATCH IT. ENJOY IT. APPLY IT!
I can’t wait to experiment with some of these things the next time I’m feeling nervous about an audition or entering any sort of high-stress situation, and I hope I was able to open your eyes to some pretty interesting news and tips as well!
Until next time, lovely people.