3 min read

How I Deal with Performance Anxiety

I hadn't played in over a year so my anxiety level was very high. Here's how I turned it into excitement.
How I Deal with Performance Anxiety

This one's a little different today. I'm on the road, sitting in Costa in Milngavie while I wait for my daughter to finish school because we're going to a concert tonight!

So excited!

We're going to see Dodie at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. This is her show that was rescheduled from April. I watched some clips on Twitter of her show last night in Manchester and it looks lit! Can't wait!


Speaking of concerts, I'd like to talk a bit about anxiety.

Ealána asked me a few weeks ago if I'd be up for playing at Crofters in Brodick. I knew this moment was coming and even made a video anticipating it a while back.

I went through my usual process of ignoring it and wishing I hadn't seen it, then wishing that I had the courage to say yes but not finding it, then finding the courage, then saying yes, then preparing for an anxious week.

Except this time I made a much more positive effort at dealing with it. Turns out that studying with August Bradley is having a really positive effect. I'm working on my Notion Life Design system and thinking a lot about how to become the person I want to be, you know, the kind of person that loves sharing music? That guy.

Music is Life

Music. This is something that I love, in fact probably above all things. Music is life. Sharing music is a privilege. And getting paid to do that? Why would that make me anxious?


So, how do we deal with this in a positive way?

Firstly, writing. I did a lot of journalling, going into my thoughts and feelings. That helped. But that's private. How about finding some courage to share in public?

Okay, how do I find that creative zone? I walk! So, up the hill we go. My intention is to walk at least three times a week, so let's get out there, and bring the camera just in case it works.

It did work. I made a video and ate some brambles. It really helped!

How about sleep and diet? Both are fine right now. In fact this is the longest I've managed the low-carb eating habit in over a year and my blood sugar levels are now coming in at 7 or below each morning. So I'm exercising and not eating crap. I'm sleeping well. This is all really helping my overall mood, which in turn leads to my feeling more capable of dealing with the anxiety in a positive way.


The next step was practice. But how do you practice performing? Well, how about live streaming? I'm already set up for it anyway. Might as well!

So I did four nights in a row and had a blast! I enjoyed playing a lot and got some nice engagement going on in the comments too. I hadn't realised quite what a music-sized hole I was in, but now I'm back playing again and it feels great! I just need to keep it going.

My live streams are on my YouTube channel if you fancy a listen.

Gig Night

The practice had actually got me feeling excited to play again. On Saturday morning I got a text from my friend and erstwhile band mate asking if I'd be up for having him join me. Are you kidding? Of course!

I got the car loaded up in the afternoon and then chilled by walking up the hill. I mean come on, how well am I doing! Textbook good behaviour!

The gig was really fun. I often used to feel anxious even playing with my friend because, well, because I fear judgement. I'm learning how to to deal with that and i found myself exploring on lead breaks more than I usually would, without fear of messing up. It was quite an experience.