Performance anxiety is a common issue for a lot of Americans (approximately 20 percent, in fact). Whether they’re taking a test, getting ready to deliver a presentation at work, or pumping themselves up for a big game or competition, there are lots of situations in which someone might find themselves feeling anxious leading up to an event.
If this is an issue that you deal with yourself, keep reading. Listed below are some tips on how you can manage performance anxiety with the help of journaling.
Benefits of Journaling for Performance Anxiety
Journaling is a powerful tool for those who deal with all forms of performance anxiety, from glossophobia (speech anxiety) to stage fright. The following are some of the most noteworthy ways in which journaling might be helpful to you:
If you spend time journaling before you get ready to perform, you will likely feel more confident when the time comes to deliver a speech or take a test. Spending time writing in a journal can help to interrupt the negative, intrusive thoughts that may arise during a performance.
Research shows, for example, that students who spent 10 minutes journaling before an exam and writing about how they were feeling were less likely to “choke under pressure”. When it comes to test-taking, specifically, journaling seems to level the playing field between people who experience performance anxiety and people who do not.
Improved Mental Clarity
By journaling before a big event, you might experience more mental clarity when the time comes to perform, too.
If you take the time to write out your fears and work through the specific issues that are causing you to feel anxious, you can step on stage or onto the court feeling confident and focused. You’ll also be less inclined to let your worries distract you and will be able to keep your head in the game (literally or figuratively).
Remember, journaling can boost your memory, comprehension, and working memory capacity, too. This can help to improve your cognitive processing and your ability to think on your feet when you begin to perform in any way.
Improved Academic Performance
For those who have concerns about their academic outcomes and test-taking abilities, specifically, journaling can be very useful.
Journaling before a test is both a helpful short-term tactic (as evidenced in the research mentioned above) and a long-term approach to improving academic performance. Struggling college students who took the time to practice journaling or “expressing writing” before tests experienced better grades and reduced drop-out rates.
People who journal on a regular basis may experience heightened levels of creativity compared to those who do not. Writing out your feelings, thoughts, and fears can help you to see the world in new ways and unlock your right-brained creativity. This, in turn, may make it easier for you to think of new ways to solve problems and better adapt to challenges that arise during your performance.
Get to the Root of the Issue
Journaling helps you to understand yourself on a deeper level, too. Plenty of people experience performance anxiety, but many of them never do any self-exploration to figure out where that anxiety comes from or what they can do to combat it. They just accept it as an unpleasant fact of life.
By spending time writing about your feelings and fears, you can break down what you’re truly worried about. Often, this issue goes deeper than concerns about getting a bad grade or letting your team down. When you write in a journal, assess your worries, and ask yourself why you’re so afraid, you can make real breakthroughs and start working to overcome your anxiety.
Journaling Tips for Beginners
Okay, you’re convinced that maybe you should give journaling for performance anxiety a try. You might be wondering, though, how to start journaling. What are you supposed to write? Are there any strategies that will help you work through anxiety, specifically?
The following tips will help you get the most out of journaling:
Set a Timer
Before ane vent, try setting a timer and challenge yourself to write for the full time period. Setting the timer for 5-10 minutes is a good starting point, but you can always choose a shorter or longer period if you prefer.
Check-in with Yourself
If you’re not sure what to write, check-in with yourself. What are you feeling in your body (butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, tension in your jaw, etc.)? What kinds of thoughts are going through your head?
Make a List
It can be helpful to make a list, too. Write down the concerns you have going into the big event, starting with the one that’s the most pressing to you.
Challenge Your Thoughts
Once you’ve written down the things are worrying you, challenge them. Ask yourself how likely it is that your fears will come to pass or break down what you’ve done to prevent that from happening (you’ve studied hard, you’ve practiced your speech several times, etc.).
Repeat a Mantra
Having a mantra can be useful, too. Repeating phrases like “I am focused”, “I am prepared”, or “I am ready” can help you get in the right frame of mind and feel more confident
Be Patient with Yourself
This might feel strange at first. The more you practice journaling before a performance of any kind (a test, a speech, a competition, etc.), the easier and more effective it will become.
Remember, too, that perfection doesn’t exist. There’s no one “right” way to journal to manage performance anxiety. Do what feels right to you, and don’t worry about whether or not you’re doing it correctly.
Start Practicing Journaling Today
It doesn’t matter if you’re in need of public speaking anxiety tips, test anxiety tips, or advice for any other type of performance anxiety. In any case, journaling can help you work through your fears and feel more confident in your ability to perform.
Keep these journaling tips in mind so you can start working through your performance anxiety today. Check out our Introduction to Journaling course to get started today.