Posted inVocal Technique

Breathing Exercises to Control Stage Fright

Do you struggle with stage fright? Are you tired of feeling anxious and nervous before performances or presentations? You’re not alone. Many people experience stage fright, and it can be a debilitating feeling that affects your ability to perform at your best.

However, there are ways to manage and control stage fright, and one of the most effective methods is through breathing exercises.

Breathing exercises are a simple yet powerful way to calm your nerves and reduce anxiety. By taking control of your breath, you can regulate your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and release tension in your body.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind breathing exercises for anxiety and provide you with techniques to try, including diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.

With these tools in your toolbox, you’ll be able to face your next performance with confidence and ease.

Understanding Stage Fright and Its Effects

You’re probably feeling nervous, but don’t worry, understanding stage fright and its effects can help you overcome it.

Stage fright is a common fear that many people experience when performing in front of an audience. It’s a feeling of anxiety and fear that can cause physical symptoms like sweating, shaking, and increased heart rate.

The effects of stage fright can be detrimental to your performance if not managed properly. It can lead to forgetfulness, stumbling over words, and even a complete breakdown on stage.

By understanding the causes of stage fright and how it affects you, you can take steps to control it and give a confident performance. Remember, everyone gets nervous, but with the right techniques, you can overcome your fears and shine on stage.

The Science behind Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

Imagine feeling a sense of calm wash over you as you take slow, deep breaths, allowing your body to relax and your mind to focus on the present moment. This is the power of breathing exercises for anxiety, including stage fright.

The science behind these exercises lies in the way they activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the body and reducing stress. When we experience anxiety, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, which prepares us for fight or flight.

This can lead to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and muscle tension. Breathing exercises work by slowing down our breathing and increasing the amount of oxygen we take in, which signals to the body that it’s safe to relax.

By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, breathing exercises can help to reduce anxiety and improve our ability to manage stage fright.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

Feeling anxious? Try out the diaphragmatic breathing technique! It involves breathing deeply from your stomach instead of your chest. This technique, also known as belly breathing, can help you control your stage fright by calming your nerves and reducing your heart rate.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing, sit or stand in a comfortable position. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and feel your stomach expand as you inhale. Then, exhale slowly through your mouth, and feel your stomach contract as you exhale.

Repeat this process for a few minutes, and focus on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body. With practice, you’ll be able to use this technique to calm your nerves and control your stage fright.

Box Breathing Technique

Box breathing, also known as tactical breathing, is a powerful technique used by Navy SEALs and athletes to increase focus and reduce stress. It involves inhaling for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, and holding the breath for four seconds before starting the cycle again.

By slowing down your breathing and focusing on the counting, you can calm your mind and body. This is especially helpful in high-pressure situations such as public speaking or performing on stage. To practice box breathing, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body.

Begin the cycle by inhaling for four seconds, filling your belly with air. Hold your breath for four seconds, then exhale for four seconds, pushing all the air out of your lungs. Hold your breath again for four seconds before starting the cycle again. Repeat this for a few minutes, gradually increasing the time as you get more comfortable with the technique.

With regular practice, you can use box breathing to control stage fright and improve your performance.

Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique

Let’s learn a powerful technique used by yogis and meditation practitioners called alternate nostril breathing. This technique involves breathing through one nostril at a time while using your fingers to close off the other.

To begin, sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and close your eyes. Start by closing off your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through your left nostril for a count of four. Then, close off your left nostril with your right ring finger and exhale through your right nostril for a count of four.

Inhale through your right nostril for a count of four, then close it off with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril for a count of four. Repeat this pattern for several minutes, focusing on your breath and the sensation of air moving through each nostril.

This technique can help to calm your nerves and reduce anxiety, making it a useful tool for controlling stage fright.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique

You can easily release tension and experience a deep sense of relaxation with the progressive muscle relaxation technique. This technique involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body, one at a time. This helps to reduce physical tension and anxiety, which can be especially helpful for managing stage fright.

To practice this technique, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Start by tensing the muscles in your feet and toes for a few seconds, then release the tension and allow your muscles to relax completely.

Move up to your calves, thighs, and so on, until you have tensed and relaxed every muscle group in your body. With practice, this technique can help you to feel more centered and calm, allowing you to better control your stage fright.

Incorporating Breathing Exercises into Your Pre-Performance Routine

Incorporating deep and rhythmic breathing into your pre-performance routine can significantly reduce physical and emotional tension, allowing for a more relaxed and confident stage presence.

Start by finding a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus solely on your breath. Take a few deep inhales and exhales, allowing your body to relax with each breath.

Once you feel calm, begin incorporating different breathing techniques to help manage anxiety and nervousness. One technique is deep diaphragmatic breathing, where you focus on breathing deeply into your belly rather than shallowly into your chest. Another technique is equal breathing, where you inhale and exhale for the same amount of time.

Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you. Remember, the key is to practice regularly so that these breathing exercises become second nature and you can incorporate them into your pre-performance routine with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for breathing exercises to start having an effect on stage fright?

Breathing exercises can start having an effect on stage fright almost immediately. By focusing on your breathing and slowing it down, you can calm your nerves and feel more in control.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with practicing breathing exercises for anxiety?

You may experience dizziness, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness if you practice breathing exercises improperly. However, when done correctly, there are no significant risks or side effects associated with practicing breathing exercises for anxiety.

Can breathing exercises be used as a standalone treatment for stage fright or should they be combined with other therapies?

Breathing exercises alone may not be enough to treat stage fright. It’s important to combine them with other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication, to address the underlying anxiety and fear.

Are there any specific breathing exercises that are more effective for controlling stage fright in certain types of performers (e.g. actors, musicians, public speakers)?

For actors, calming your breath before a performance can help to reduce stage fright. For musicians, practicing slow and rhythmic breathing during rehearsal can be effective. Public speakers may benefit from deep breathing exercises to slow their heart rate and reduce anxiety.

Can breathing exercises be used during a performance to help control stage fright, or are they only effective when practiced beforehand?

Breathing exercises can be used during a performance to help control stage fright. By taking slow and deep breaths, you can calm your nerves and regulate your heart rate. Practice beforehand to make it easier during the performance.


Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the article on breathing exercises to control stage fright. By now, you should have a good understanding of what stage fright is, how it affects your body and mind, and the science behind using breathing exercises to manage anxiety.

Remember, there are several types of breathing techniques that you can try. These include diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques are easy to learn and can be practiced anywhere, anytime.

So, the next time you feel nervous before a performance or presentation, take a few moments to breathe deeply and calm your nerves. With practice, you’ll be able to control your stage fright and perform at your best!

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