Nerves and Cold Showers

"I do not only endure the cold, I love the cold."

-Wim Hof

Your alarm goes off. It's 6 o'clock in the morning and you drag your groggy self out of bed. Though you would much rather have face planted into the carpet, you make it just far enough to end up in your shower. The one comfort you can enjoy before the sun comes up is a warm sauna cascading out from the shower head. Hot, steamy goodness. You step in and are "greeted" with the opposite. The hot water is out and there's no way to get it back. 

You have a few options when you are faced with this unavoidable cold water fate: You could run, skipping the shower all together. You could stick it out but fully resist its power by focusing on your inevitable exit. What if you were to begin breathing deeply, choosing to function in spite of the Hoth like conditions? With practice the body adapts and is able to cope with the cold and, eventually, to enjoy it. 

These are the decisions we are faced with when approaching a live performance. Everyone experiences nerves that can get in the way of performing. We are better off by embracing the fate of nervousness and learning to cope with it than finding ways around it. Like entering a cold shower, performance anxiety is a force with which we can learn to deal, and even learn to enjoy.

TLDR: For most people, the cold instantly engages the "fight or flight" response similar to what we experience as performance anxiety. Learning to love and reap the benefits of cold exposure can help to develop coping mechanisms that allow you to function in spite of mental and physical discomfort associated with performance anxiety. 

David Anderson

Baltimore, MD