It happens to the best of us: performance anxiety before giving a presentation rears its ugly head. Even when you know that you have your content nailed down, and have practiced in front of others, it can still creep up on you. Performance anxiety can be particularly strong the day of a mindfulness, and especially the few minutes beforehand. It can make you lose your concentration and train of thought and keep you from doing your best.

Meditation and yoga are tried-and-true methods of relaxation that can crush performance anxiety in as little as 15 minutes. The deep breathing and mindfulness associated with these ancient practices helps calm down the body’s natural defenses and reign in anxiety. These techniques can be used before a presentation to get your mind off your anxiety and enable you to focus on giving a great talk.


Scientifically Proved to Reduce Performance Anxiety

Scientific research supports claims that yoga and meditation both help alleviate performance anxiety. One study conducted on a group of adult musicians participating in a 2-month yoga and meditation program showed that they had overall less performance anxiety before playing music on stage. Another one suggests that meditation therapy is highly effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders, for those who have chronic performance anxiety. There continues to be a variety of studies on this subject, and the results consistently show that anxiety is greatly reduced when yoga and meditation are practiced.


The Effect of Meditation and Yoga on the Brain

How do meditation and yoga work, and why are they so effective? In our everyday busy lives, we are often stuck in a “fight or flight” mode where our body’s systems are on overdrive to keep us going throughout the day. This excess adrenaline can leave us in a chronic stressed out state, even if we don’t realize it, and lead to feelings of anxiety. Meditation and yoga combats this state, activated by the sympathetic nervous system, with what’s called a parasympathetic response. The rest and relaxation of yoga and meditation reduces the release of stress hormones, slowing heart rate and improving blood flow, which allows you to function better.


Starting Out with Yoga and Meditation

If you’re new to yoga and meditation, it may not come naturally to you. You might find it hard to relax because your body and mind are used to being “on”. The key to a good yoga or meditation session is to focus on the breath. It’s the deep breathing in and out that allows the mind to stop spinning and find a place of peace. When you get your breathing down, you’ll find it’s easier to relax and let the yoga and meditation take over.

There are many resources available online for getting started learning how to do yoga and meditation. The website for Mindful magazine has a comprehensive list of audio, visual, and text resources that will help beginners start their practice. You can also find guided meditations on YouTube. Online beginning yoga classes are offered on sites like Do Yoga With Me and My Free Yoga. When you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to take in-person classes to get feedback and guided instruction. Then, try it out for yourself at home with video and audio resources as a supplement to your face-to-face classes. Before long, you’ll feel confident about doing yoga and meditation on your own and can use it whenever you need to calm your nerves.


Regular Practice Gets the Best Results

Another finding from research on yoga and meditation for performance anxiety is that those who practice them regularly get the most benefit. So while it may help to do some deep breathing and yoga stretches before a presentation as needed, you won’t get the same effect as if you had been doing it for weeks. Try to make yoga and meditation habitual. You don’t have to do it every day to get a long-term benefit. The more you practice, the more natural the state of relaxation will feel. With yoga and meditation, you can greatly diminish or even eradicate the effect that performance anxiety has on your presentations.

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Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

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