Entry by Elena Juatco, Guest Blogger
Your palms get sweaty, your heart starts racing, and your temperature, for no reason at all, starts to rise. You feel like you might throw up. You feel like you might pass out. You feel like running the hell out of there. Any place is better than here.
First of all, let me assure you – You are not alone!
Yes, I still get nervous before I step on stage. Those nerves don’t go away no matter how old you get. (I’ve heard actors in their 70s say that they still get nervous before opening night!) But while nerves do not go away, we can still learn how to manage them better.
As someone once told me, “Those butterflies ain’t leaving, so get them flying in formation.”
Here are my tips:
#1. Acknowledge your nerves and know that they are a good sign!
If you’re nervous, that means you are about to do something that you really care about, which means: You are on the right track. Without excitement, without moments that we truly care about and want to do well in, life would be, well … pretty boring. If I ever stopped being nervous, I honestly would start to worry.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. Live a life where you take chances and most importantly, make mistakes. This is the only way to grow and to learn. Nervous? Great. You should be!
This is my most important tip, because breath is the secret to everything: it is the secret to singing, to acting, to dancing, to all forms of art, even to life and meditation. If you are not in tune with your breath, then you will lose yourself.
Let yourself take one deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take another one. And one more. If ever you feel overwhelmed, find your natural rhythm of breath and let that carry you through your performance. If you are in tune with your breath, you are in tune with your body, and your nerves (which are all in your head) will have no place in messing that up!
#3. Dedicate yourself to a personal warm up before you go onstage.
This is your time. My pre-show warm up is the most important time that I have before a show and can make the difference between an “okay show” and an “incredible show”. Try it yourself and see the difference.
I do some yoga sun salutations (also keeping in mind the breath), some of my favourite stretches, and also my own vocal warm ups to see how my voice and my body feel on that day.
The more you can take better care of yourself and your body, the better you are in tune with your self. As a result, the more focused and present you will feel.
#4. Trust yourself. (Don’t keep running over your routine, that’s not what’s important!)
You’ve rehearsed this. You know it. It’s in your body now. Breathing and feeling present is more important than running the routine over and over again before you step onstage. Trust me, after running your routine a million times backstage, your nerves will take over and you will mess up, which will make you panic. If this happens, it’s not because you “don’t know it … oh-my-God-we-are-all-gonna-die-I’m-going-to-start-crying-now”; it’s because your nerves are taking over your head and forcing you to mess up.
Breathe. Think about your character and the place your character is in. Put yourself in the emotional state of mind that you need to be in, saturate yourself in that, then I promise you – magic will happen.
*Side note: Yes of course, run over your routine with your team mates the day of the performance, especially where safety is an issue. Just don’t do it too many times! Once or twice is enough!
#5. Practise GRATITUDE!
Once you realize how fortunate you are to have this opportunity to share something truly wonderful with an audience, you will see that there is nothing left to do but enjoy and relish it.
Let this feeling of gratitude spill into your every day life. Whether you are having a good day or a bad day, there is always something to be grateful for: your health, your happiness, friends, even just a sunny day. The more you can feel grateful, the more you can feel present in the moment and the better life, in general, will be.
Those are my tips! Hope they help. Do you have any extra tips to share? Has anyone told you a bit of advice that calmed your nerves? Please comment below!