I didn't know that! Issue# 16- Exercises for anxiety control

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Before applying any strategies that will help manage and control anxiety, the symptoms of both physical and mental anxiety must be recognized. Therefore, use the first two self-awareness exercises to help reveal your choir’s pattern of anxiety and the symptoms that accompany it.


Think back to a performance that was ideal, one in which you performed very well. Recall all the things that were done before the performance: the travel arrangements, the time of arrival, the kind of warm-up, etc. Note all the details that can be remembered. This performance represents the ideal arousal zone and will also give an idea of how it was achieved.

Check the following list of symptoms to see which you exhibit. Not all somatic symptoms are negative. Pounding heart, increased respiration and adrenaline need not be negative signs. However, the presence of physical symptoms together with mental symptoms may mean that the level of arousal has gone too high. Then you will have to lower the level.

Mental Symptoms
Feeling overwhelmed
Inability to concentrate 
Feeling out of control 
Narrowing of attention 
Loss of confidence 

Physical Symptoms
Pounding heart
Increased respiration
Decreased blood flow to the skin
Increased muscle tension
Dry mouth
Trembling and twitching
Loss of appetite
Increased adrenaline

Imagery is a potent method for coping with mental anxiety. Recall your ideal performance (as in Exercise 1) and watch yourself in imagination performing as well as you can. This is a very effective way of reducing mental anxiety. If it is done often, it will be a reminder of how it feels to perform really well.

Reducing mental anxiety can also be done by thinking about images that produce great calm and relaxation, such as running water for example.

Shirlee Emmons