Treating performance anxiety
When the exceptional athlete and probably the best gymnast in the world, Simone Biles, left the Tokyo Olympics early after only one routine, it sent shockwaves through the sports world. The reason for the decision was not anything physical; the 24-year-old was troubled by mental problems.
The same happened to tennis star Naomi Osaka, who refused to take part in the French Open of the same year out of consideration for her mental health.
Performance anxiety: the fear of not being able to cope
Immense pressure to succeed and the fear of failing, of not being able to live up to one’s own or others’ expectations, can mean that top performance can no longer be achieved.
High performers from the world of sports, business, politics or show business are particularly at risk of a great fall in the wake of great accomplishments. This is because anyone who is an above-average achiever is always expected to continue delivering outstanding results, or even surpassing the previous successes that they have achieved.
This sets in motion a toxic spiral of expectations that can bring even highly professional and extremely well-prepared top performers to their knees because self-doubt suddenly arises, resulting in a lack of the necessary confidence.
Significant indicators of performance anxiety
- Status anxiety
- Fear of failure
- Fear of the opponent/competition
- Mental blocks
Causes of performance anxiety
In addition to a lot of discipline, diligence, perseverance and talent, top performers in business, sports, show business, etc. require enormous mental strength. The belief that you can create or achieve something that can truly “move mountains” is a very important contributing factor to success.
If, however, confidence and belief in one’s own abilities are lacking, insecurity, mistakes, unusual slip-ups or even failure will occur. The condition of your emotional state therefore has a substantial bearing on whether you win or lose, or whether your project succeeds or fails.
The more uncertain the outcome of the upcoming event is perceived, the more the fear of failure grows. Furthermore, the more the goal exceeds the personal assessment of one’s own abilities, the lower the self-confidence in one’s own abilities becomes.
There are certain factors that are considered to be particularly decisive for the state of one’s mental condition:
The environment in which the person is located can strongly influence mental fitness. This effect is also called “home advantage” in sports. Those who receive support and mental encouragement (usually the case at home games) will see their self-confidence and mental strength increase significantly. In contrast, devaluation, criticism and lack of confidence have a strong demoralizing effect and can literally become a block.
- Social perception
The same applies to the social perception applied to the high achiever. If mistakes and failures are judged negatively, the fear of failure automatically increases. If, on the other hand, an initial failure is perceived as an important experience, the hurdle is accordingly lowered and confidence grows.
- Opponent or competitor
How strong or weak the opponent or competitor is perceived to be plays an important role in one’s mental strength. The same applies to the self-perceived importance of a performance, a speech or negotiation. Generally speaking, the more that hinges on the event and the more important the people who evaluate you appear to be, the greater the fear of failing at the decisive moment will be.
- Pressure to succeed
Extremely high expectations from the outside, such as the responsibility of taking a penalty in a shoot-out or pressure to win a medal at the Olympics, can also severely weaken mental health. However, the same also happens when one’s own expectations are unrealistically high.
What are the typical symptoms of performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety or the mental slump before an important event has a lot to do with the fear of failure. In general, fears always have a protective function. In this case, the fear of failure also serves a protective function. Here, the fear protects against making a fool of oneself or being seen as a failure.
The feeling of fear is very complex and manifests itself on several levels throughout the body. The following symptoms occur:
On a cognitive and emotional level:
- loss of control
- reduced ability to concentrate
- negative thought loops, etc.
On a physical level:
- racing heart
- dry mouth
- nervous twitching, etc.
On a behavioral level:
- severe nervousness
- nail biting
- placing your hand in front of your mouth
- foot rocking/tapping
- thought blocks
- blackout, etc.
Performance anxiety and stage fright are not the same!
If the symptoms of performance anxiety are not taken seriously, the pressure of suffering increases and the fear continues to grow.
Performance anxiety should not be confused with stage fright. Stage fright is temporary, controllable and can even enhance performance. Performance anxiety, on the other hand, slows down performance and can even lead to a complete mental block. This is because fear of failure almost always stems from deep-rooted patterns and convictions that do not disappear on their own.
Two avoidance strategies are often used to escape them. On the one hand is self-sabotage, which leads to permanently performing below one’s capabilities. On the other is excessive perfectionism, which attempts to keep fear at bay through strong control behavior. However, both coping strategies are harmful in the long run and can lead to further mental illnesses if left untreated.
Possible associated and secondary issues linked to performance anxiety
Those who remain permanently below their potential can develop feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, inner emptiness and self-rejection, which in the worst case can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Other anxiety disorders can develop as a result of performance anxiety. In particular, panic attacks may occur. Social phobias, i.e. the fear of being perceived as “disturbed” or “not right” by others and being judged negatively, are also more likely.
In addition, the risk of addictive disorders increases when depressant or stimulant substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine or tablets, etc., are used to combat performance anxiety.
Particularly when attempts are made to counteract a competitive weakness through strong perfectionist behavior, there is a risk of stress-related illnesses and burnout.
Which therapies can help with performance anxiety?
The first signs of performance anxiety should therefore always be taken seriously and treated as early as possible. Since performance anxiety affects almost all areas of the body and mind, treatment should be holistic if possible. However, common therapies usually focus only on psychotherapy and the use of psychotropic drugs.
We do things differently!
The CALDA Concept: We can help you!
With the CALDA Concept, you receive a tailor-made and highly effective precision therapy in line with holistic principles. We work in a solution-oriented way across several disciplines that affect all levels of the organism that are involved:
In this way, quite astonishing results can be achieved within a short period of time!
In addition to scientifically founded methods from classical medicine, we also work with particularly proven healing methods from complementary medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and orthomolecular medicine.
Because the roots of performance anxiety often lie in patterns learned early in childhood, we also consider hypnosis and hypnotherapy in treatment. Negative belief patterns and deep-rooted barriers that are stored in the subconscious can be reached and successfully reprogrammed in this way.
The CALDA Concept
Our guiding principle and our promise to you:
We treat the causes, not the symptoms!
Whenever possible, we work without psychotropic drugs!
We dedicate our time and our entire know-how exclusively to one single client.
The CALDA Concept: Comprehensive diagnostics as a basis
The basis of every one-to-one treatment in accordance with the CALDA Concept is a very careful and extremely detailed diagnosis, through which disease correlations that would otherwise often not have become visible can be uncovered.
Here you can learn more about the many different aspects and advantages of the CALDA Concept as well as the different programs we offer at the CALDA Clinic.
If you are experiencing performance anxiety, we recommend that you take part in the CALDA Full Program.