Sweaty palms, a racing heart, continuous urges to go to the toilet, dry mouth, the shivers, dizziness, a rash, forgetting lines, tension, anticipating a bad performance…
The good old common symptoms of nerves… maybe yours are different. Nerves, whatever form they come in can block performances by freezing you mentally, physically and emotionally. They stop you being able to tune into your impulses to give a truthful moment by moment performance so your performance ends up being mechanical. It’s good to get a handle on these things and know that EVERY ACTOR at some stage in their stage life suffers from the naughty nerves.
If you don’t know how to deal with them and use them to your advantage it can not only destroy performances but also your confidence, and before you know it you’re no longer acting. So let’s get stuck in and find out the best kept secrets for dealing with nerves so we can reduce them and work with them.
The best kept secrets for dealing with nerves
You will hear me talk again and again and again about mindset. It is the creator of all nerves, everything starts from a thought and therefore mind set is the first thing we have to deal with here. We need to go right to the root of the problem.
2. IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
Firstly identify the type of nerves you are currently suffering from and pop them under one of these three columns PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL. For example if you are visibly shaking that goes under physical, if you are predicting a bad performance that goes under mental. Ultimately all nerves will boil down to something mental, but it’s good to get them out on paper and out of your head.
3. IDENTIFY THE CAUSE
Next identify what it is that is causing you the nerves, is it that you are putting yourself under pressure, is someone else is putting you under pressure, have you messed up before and believe you will do again, do you believe the other actors are better than you, is someone in the audience you know? Whatever it is write this down next to the nerves you have identified.
Here are few different things you can do to overcome your nerves, you must make sure you do one or more of these things to help you work with them, you can choose from the list below or add your own.
a) Write down affirmations that are the opposite to your original thought e.g if you believe you will forget your lines your affirmation could be “I am a great actor/actress who has prepared my lines thoroughly” – say this over and over again to yourself until you believe it.
b) Use relaxation technique – this can help to focus and centre you. You may want to use physical relaxation, where you tense & release each muscle, or breathing, where you control your breathing, or you may want to use visualisation – use what works best for you. Only you know that.
c) Channel the emotions you are feeling. Actors love to “feel it”. You have a raw, real emotion right there, which you can use. This is great because it shows you you are alive and now you don’t have to dig deep into an affective memory because you have something “happening” already.
d) If you are familiar with sense memory use this technique to help you establish yourself before you get into the scene. E.g is the scene in a cold setting or warm setting, a setting where there is a particular smell? By using sense memory you can re-direct your mind and re-focus it for the benefit of the scene. If your nerves, like mine, make you feel cold and the scene requires you to be cold. BINGO!
I’d love to connect with you and find out whether you suffer from nerves. Let me know in the comments below
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If you found these tips useful, you can grab yourself more tips completely FREE. Louise O’Leary is a professional method actress, acting coach and CEO of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can achieve their acting dreams and become the best actor they can be. Her eBook “Respect your craft, discover my top 45 method acting secrets to launch your career”, has helped hundreds of actors around the world.
It covers how to build a character, the business of acting, how to learn lines effectively and confidence in acting. Download your copy here bit.ly/free45tipsbook to get on your way to acting success. Or head over to facebook.com/standBymethodactingstudio for inspirational advice and tips every day.