5 Tips On How To Break The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety At Work (2023)

Have you ever zoned out amidst a meeting or a room full of people, doubting your ability to complete a task? Do you often question your skills or whether you fit the job?

Have you ever been stuck in the never-ending cycle of performance anxiety? Even though you are trying your best to achieve your goals or targets, the thought of failure makes it worse. If your answers to the above questions are mostly yes, then maybe you're struggling with performance anxiety.

It is normal to feel anxious or nervous before a performance or an important task, but what if the anxiety kicks in every now and then? It can be exhilarating and make your work life an unpleasant one.

This article will help you understand the difference between generalized anxiety and performance anxiety. It will also explore dismantling the performance anxiety cycle at work.

What Is Performance Anxiety?

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Performance anxiety at work is a feeling you can develop over time that you might not be fit or do not possess the skills to do your job efficiently. It is a mindset or fears that you might develop that your colleague or boss is being critical of your performance. It is most common for you to feel under a lot of pressure before an important meeting, but it shouldn't be the case before every incident.

However, performance anxiety differs from generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety. It is not a diagnosed one but rather a symptom of GAD. It can stem from general anxiety, but both don't always have the same symptoms.

If you have anxiety in general, then no specific event or incident can trigger you. Generalized anxiety disorder is not limited to performance-related issues or events. You can experience it during different situations, without any apparent cause.

But you may experience performance anxiety, specifically before an event or before performing a task that you might fear you're not capable of performing. It could result from internal or external pressure, either real or perceived.

Again, social anxiety can be a factor behind it but it can vary from person to person. Not everyone feels shy or nervous encountering new situations that require social interactions. It is again a type of social anxiety when you feel intense fear or stress during or before performing or interacting with people in general.

Suggested Read 7 Ways You Can Help Employees Dealing With Work Anxiety

What Are The Reasons Behind The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety At Work?

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Performance anxiety becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that can be challenging to break. When you are focused on the fear of failure, you begin to doubt yourself and your ability to succeed. It creates a vicious circle in which poor performance leads to more anxiety.

The reasons behind your anxiety can be many, but a few of the most common reasons why you may face or struggle with performance anxiety at work are -

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1. Stress hormones

Stress at the workplace is a common struggle that many of you have faced and is quite inevitable. And cortisol, a stress hormone, is primarily responsible for low performance and anxiety at work.

The body's natural response to a challenging situation is to release more stress hormones. It can negatively affect your mood, productivity, and physical and mental health.

2. Negative emotions

When you're occupied with negative thoughts and emotions like fear, self-doubt, and waiting for the worst-case scenarios, your brain can find it hard to focus on the good things at work. It will immediately go on auto-pilot mode, making it difficult to engage in anything positive.

When your brain is in survival mode, negative thoughts consume most of your attention. Again, when you are anxious or stressed, you cannot think about anything clearly nor focus on work which further hinders focuses your productivity at work.

3. Dysfunction in the Amygdala

Dysfunction in the amygdala is one of the many reasons why you may struggle with performance anxiety at work. It is the part of your brain responsible for fear and anxiety.

When your amygdala is functioning properly, it helps you identify threats and prepare for them. However, when it is not functioning, it can cause you or expose you to excessive fear and anxiety even though no actual threat exists.

Suggested Read 5 Common Myths About Anxiety In The Workplace

What Are The Symptoms Of Performance Anxiety?

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Identifying the symptoms of performance anxiety at work is the first step to overcoming it. It helps you to understand whether you have work performance anxiety, anxiety before going to work or generalized anxiety. Further, when you recognize your symptoms, you can treat these challenges with the right strategies. Here are a few symptoms of performance anxiety -

  • Reduced productivity

  • Feelings of inadequacy

  • Negative attitude or negative emotions

  • Physical discomfort

  • Mental exhaustion

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  • Fidgeting or excessive sweating

5 Effective Ways To Break The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety

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Anxiety about performance at work is a common struggle for many people. The cycle, however, cannot continue indefinitely. If you think you suffer from performance anxiety, you're not alone. A recent study found that almost 60% of the music industry and sports adults experience performance anxiety.

The cycle of performance anxiety can be challenging for you to break, but it is not impossible. There are effective ways and strategies that you can use or practice at work, to mitigate the effects of performance anxiety at work.

Here are five effective ways you can practice to overcome performance anxiety at work -

1. Practice Mindfulness And Other Relaxation Techniques

When work seems like a lot, or you are overwhelmed with work, then maybe it's time to hit the pause button and reset. A go-to calming strategy can come in handy when you get easily distracted or anxious at work.

Practicing simple relaxation techniques or mindfulness can be your coping strategy. It doesn't necessarily have to be a complicated one. It can be as simple as a deep breathing exercise to simply closing your eyes and listening to calming music. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a tailored one.

Here are a few examples of relaxation techniques that you can try to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your anxiety at work -

  • Yoga or meditation at work will help you keep calm and prevent your mind from distractions.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation exercises help to ground yourself so that your energy and attention are on your body instead of anxiety-inducing thoughts.

  • Exercises focusing on deep breathing can help your mind focus on inhaling and exhaling rather than worrying about negative thoughts.

Take some time out of your day to practice the technique you find works best for you. By practicing regularly, you can reduce if not break the cycle of performance anxiety.

According to Dr. Daniel Sher, Guided imagery, a therapeutic technique that uses a script can help you create positive mental images and thoughts to boost relaxation.

2. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Most of the time, your anxiety results from internal pressure, which is perceived, not reality. Engaging or spending most of your time doubting yourself or in negative thoughts can directly negatively affect your mental health. It is one of the main factors that fumes your anxiety.

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According to Dr. Paul Greene, a clinical psychologist in New York, focusing all your energy on negative thoughts can worsen your anxiety. Further, your performance will automatically be exacerbated by negative self-talk. When your negative thoughts start to take over your reality, you'll be more likely to be anxious and nervous before starting up any new task.

Positive self-talk or practicing more positive thinking can be helpful when it comes to managing your performance anxiety at work. The power of positive self-talk is a lot more than most of you might think.

In times of stress, remembering why you're likely to succeed and the good things about you can help you calm down and look in the mirror with a positive outlook.

If inner dialogues are not working, you always write them down. You can later read them when your mind is working against you.

3. Try To Set Some Realistic Goals For Yourself

When breaking the cycle of performance anxiety, one of the most important steps would be to set realistic goals for yourself. Setting higher goals is a natural way to boost your confidence but achieving them is a different story.

You might often find yourself panicking or getting nervous before a task or an important event because you cannot meet your own goals. If you're trying to achieve something out of your reach, you will only end up setting yourself in failure.

Therefore, setting realistic goals for yourself to achieve them and boost your confidence is essential. Instead of taking up big projects, you should focus on smaller goals and gradually move your way up.

Be it fitness goals or general behavioral goals that you want to achieve at work. It will help you reduce the amount of stress and anxiety about your future and help you be more focused on your future.

Here are a few ways how you can set yourself to put up a more realistic vision board -

  • Create a step-by-step plan on how to achieve your goals.

  • Put up a strategy to start with the smaller ones and move up to the bigger ones.

  • Have room for making potential mistakes. Remember making mistakes is a part of the journey.

  • Track your progress and make notes of what needs more of your attention.

  • Try to set up a plan to overcome your mistakes.

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4. Facing Fear Is Better Than Running Away From It

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Finding yourself in a situation requiring you to get out of your comfort zone can make you want to avoid it or trigger your avoidant issues. While it is natural to avoid stressful situations, it is not healthy for you in the long run.

"Avoiding situations that trigger your anxiety is understandable, however doing it repeatedly will only worsen it. - Dr. Greene"

One way to break the performance anxiety cycle is to stop avoiding and start facing your fears and problems. It would be best if you tried to put yourself more in situations that scare you a little often. The more you're exposed to facing what triggers your anxiety, the more you'll adapt to it eventually.

Rather than starting big, try starting small. You can practice your speech in front of your friends or colleagues if you have stage fright or difficulty confronting social events. You'll become more adept at controlling your emotions and anxieties with practice.

5. Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Your lifestyle has a significant impact on both your mental and physical health. Having a healthy lifestyle, whether you exercise or eat healthfully, eventually affects your health. According to many studies, your gut plays a major role in managing your mood. Your mental health is influenced by what you eat, directly or indirectly.

Therefore, incorporating a healthier diet can help eliminate stress and anxiety. It is normal to find comfort in junk food at times of distress or indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking, or even consuming heavy caffeine.

The effects of smoking or drinking on your body eventually take a toll on your health, worsening your anxiety. Too much sugar intake or caffeine when in distress can affect your blood sugar levels which can further mimic anxiety symptoms and turn into actual anxiety.

When you eat healthy foods or exercise daily, your body releases serotonin, a happy hormone. Additionally, it can reduce negative thoughts and distract you from anxiety-inducing thoughts. Maintaining a healthy diet can again help stabilize your blood sugar levels, reducing your tendency to become cranky at work. It will help you focus more on your goals and be more productive.

Seek medical advice if you find your anxiety spiking up. As it can be an underlying symptom of untreated depression or anxiety disorder.

Summing It Up

Thus, breaking the cycle of performance anxiety can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Focusing more on your goals and sticking to a coping strategy that fits you can help you overcome these symptoms, if not prevent them altogether.

Anxiety is the body's natural response to stressful situations, and everyone struggles with it. However, you should seek medical attention if these recurring episodes are out of control.

I hope this article helped you better understand the cycle of performance anxiety and how to overcome it.

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This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

(Video) 5 Tips to Overcome Performance Anxiety


5 Tips On How To Break The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety At Work? ›

One important step in reversing the anxiety cycle is gradually confronting feared situations. If you do this, it will lead to an improved sense of confidence, which will help reduce your anxiety and allow you to go into situations that are important to you.

How do you break the cycle of anxiety? ›

One important step in reversing the anxiety cycle is gradually confronting feared situations. If you do this, it will lead to an improved sense of confidence, which will help reduce your anxiety and allow you to go into situations that are important to you.

Does Viagra work for performance anxiety? ›

ED drugs like sildenafil (Viagra®, generic Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis®), and avanafil (Stendra®) can also be used in sexual performance anxiety treatment as a way to provide more confidence for men with sexual performance concerns.

How do you calm performance anxiety? ›

Performance Anxiety Treatments
  1. Be prepared: practice, practice, practice.
  2. Limit caffeine and sugar intake the day of the performance. ...
  3. Shift the focus off of yourself and your fear to the enjoyment you are providing to the spectators. ...
  4. Don't focus on what could go wrong. ...
  5. Avoid thoughts that produce self-doubt.
Nov 13, 2021

What are the six time tested ways to overcome stage fright? ›

6 Ways to Overcome "Stage Fright"
  • Practice, practice practice. ...
  • Relax your body. ...
  • Jump right in. ...
  • The audience is routing for you. ...
  • If you do go blank in the moment, try not to panic.
Apr 18, 2011

Does Viagra affect horniness? ›

Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). While it helps you temporarily maintain an erection so you can have sex, it does not cure ED. It does not affect sexual desire either.

What ED pills are good for performance anxiety? ›

Counselling and lifestyle changes can help, but you also get medications to help you get and keep erections, even with sexual performance anxiety, including: Viagra. Viagra Connect. Sildenafil.

What medication is good for performance anxiety? ›

Medications like Xanax and Zoloft usually treat long-term, persistent anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). While Zoloft is needed on a daily basis to see results, Xanax, like propranolol, is taken on an as-needed basis for performance anxiety symptoms.

What is the 5 step rule for anxiety? ›

This technique asks you to find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Using this with someone who feels anxious will help to calm them down and reduce their feelings of anxiety.

What is the 3 3 3 method for anxiety? ›

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm. Whenever you feel your brain going 100 miles per hour, this mental trick can help center your mind, bringing you back to the present moment, Chansky says.

How I healed my anxiety without drugs? ›

Anxiety Treatment Without Medication: 7 Holistic Ways to Cope
  1. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. ...
  2. Avoid Stimulants. ...
  3. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  4. Just Breathe. ...
  5. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Do What You Enjoy. ...
  8. Where to Get Help.
Dec 6, 2017

Is performance anxiety a mental illness? ›

Performance anxiety may be severe enough to be diagnosed as a mental health disorder. For example, if you experience it during most or all social situations, you could receive a social anxiety disorder diagnosis. But as with any other type of anxiety, you can learn to manage performance anxiety and stop its cycle.

Can you control stage fright? ›

There isn't a permanent, one-size-fits-all cure for stage fright. However, it's absolutely possible to overcome most of the fear and learn to perform without excess anxiety. With the right mindset and skills, people can learn how to feel more comfortable in social situations and be confident during presentations.

How long can the average man stay erect? ›

A penile erection can normally last anywhere from a few minutes to about half an hour. On average, men have five erections a night while they're sleeping, each lasting about 25 to 35 minutes (Youn, 2017).

Do you still stay hard after coming with Viagra? ›

Viagra doesn't stop your erection going down after you ejaculate, so you'll likely lose your erection after you do. If you are having trouble orgasming too early then you may need separate treatment for premature ejaculation.

What happens if a female takes Viagra? ›

What happens if a woman takes Viagra? Just as Viagra helps improve blood flow for an erection, it may improve blood flow in the female reproductive parts. When this happens, it may cause more sensitivity and stimulation, causing the person taking it to become more aroused.

What is stronger than Viagra for ED? ›

Vardenafil (Levitra) is almost 10 times more biochemically potent than sildenafil, therefore a lower dose is needed to facilitate the penile erection, potentially resulting in less side effects. Selectivity is the ability of the drug to attach to the specific enzyme PDE 5 found in penile tissues.

What is the most powerful ED drug? ›

Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • Longest lasting: It is the longest lasting PDE5 drug for ED, typically lasting up to 36 hours, though some reports suggest it can last up to 72 hours.
  • Longer-term use: It is possible to take a low dose of 2.5–5 mg once per day for a longer-term solution.

What is the first line treatment for performance anxiety? ›

Antidepressants are the first-line medications in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

What is the most important step to overcoming stage fright? ›

Refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence. Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation. Exercise, eat well, and practice other healthful lifestyle habits. Try to limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible.

How do I get rid of stage fear when talking? ›

These steps may help:
  1. Know your topic. ...
  2. Get organized. ...
  3. Practice, and then practice some more. ...
  4. Challenge specific worries. ...
  5. Visualize your success. ...
  6. Do some deep breathing. ...
  7. Focus on your material, not on your audience. ...
  8. Don't fear a moment of silence.

What is the best medication for stage fright? ›

The anxiety drives some to abandon successful careers or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. But other people sometimes use beta-blockers, most commonly propranolol (Inderal and generic), as well as pindolol (Visken and generic); acebutolol (Sectral and generic); and atenolol (Tenormin and generic).

What are 4 ways to refer to stage fright? ›

synonyms for stage fright
  • aphonia.
  • aphonia clericorum.
  • aphonia paralytica.
  • aphonia paranoica.
  • bashfulness.
  • buck fever.
  • butterflies.
  • flop sweat.

How do you calm your nerves before a presentation? ›

Here are a few techniques you can use to calm your nerves before a presentation or public speaking engagement:
  1. Drink water during long presentations. ...
  2. Plan ways to connect with your audience. ...
  3. Practice a big presentation in front of a mirror. ...
  4. Stretch to improve your body language. ...
  5. Take a few deep breaths.
May 13, 2022

How can I be brave on stage? ›

The Best Ways to Get Over Stage Fright & Be More Confident
  1. Exercise and move your body.
  2. Watch a funny video.
  3. Take time to relax.
  4. Shake out your jitters.
  5. Stand or sit up tall.
  6. Set yourself a timer.
  7. Avoid caffeine.
  8. Tell yourself positive aspirations.

What is the main reason for stage fear? ›

Physiological causes

The symptoms of stage fright are due to activation of your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response. In this type of physiological response, the body releases adrenaline into the system in preparation for quick action.

How do you talk in front of a group without being nervous? ›

Thirty ways to manage public speaking anxiety
  1. Select a topic of interest to you.
  2. Prepare carefully–know your material.
  3. Practice–rehearse your talk with a friend.
  4. Know your audience.
  5. Challenge negative thinking–make 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.
Sep 23, 2015

Why am I so nervous on stage? ›

Stage fright is extremely common, and some experts believe that it is a subset of social anxiety disorder, a condition rooted in fear of judgment and rejection. Someone may also have a severe fear of failure or embarrassment.

Can you use Xanax for stage fright? ›

Xanax is helpful for panic-inducing situations as it can be used as needed before an event. In the case of SAD, Xanax is more commonly prescribed for cognitive symptoms like worrying about performance or the judgment of others. Xanax can be taken about an hour before a performance event.

Can Benadryl help stage fright? ›

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is not an ideal solution for stage fright. This antihistamine can be very sedating and might interfere with your best performance.

What medication calms nerves? ›

Types of Anti-anxiety Medications (Benzodiazepines)

Benzodiazepines most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders are clonazepam (Rivotril)*, alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan).


1. Reversing the Vicious Cycle of Anxiety (CBT Clinical Demonstration)
(Centre for Clinical Interventions)
2. CBT Self Help for Anxiety
3. How to overcome social anxiety disorder
(Doctor Ali Mattu)
4. Anxiety For Kids & Teens | Anxiety Symptoms, Triggers, Causes, Coping Techniques
(Mental Health Center Kids)
5. The one factor causing depression and anxiety in the workplace | Johann Hari | Big Think
(Big Think)
6. Why Your Anticipation Creates More Anxiety And How To Stop
(Calmly Coping)


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