By DEBORAH KERSLAKE
The cameras were ready to whirr into action and pop star Gary Barlow was waiting expectantly in the corner of the Dublin studio. My daughter Camilla, 21, was about to shoot her first music video, singing the Take That hit Rule The World.
Camilla looked the picture of calm, clearly enjoying her first taste of stardom. Yet, 24 hours earlier, suffering from a severe attack of stage fright, she had begged me to fly over and help her combat her nerves using hypnosis – one of the skills I use in my job as a personal development coach.
In 2009, after Camilla handed Gary her CD in a recording studio, he gave her a record deal. Almost overnight she went from being a student at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford to singing in front of Royalty and TV audiences of millions. Once confident, she had suddenly become terrified of performing live.
First, I explained to her that what she was feeling was a perfectly normal reaction to stress. When we sense danger – whether real or imagined – the nervous system releases a flood of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol.
These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens and your senses become sharper. It helps you stay focused, energetic and alert.
The problems start when you feel this kind of stress before going on stage, giving a wedding speech or a presentation at work – when you really need to stay calm – and it can have the effect of freezing a person in panic.
The more our nervous system is activated by stress hormones, the harder it is to switch off.
The result is a string of problems including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, eczema, low selfesteem, poor sex drive, inability to make decisions, even a nervous breakdown.
But this kind of acute stress is easy to overcome. As Camilla lay on her hotel bed, I got her to breathe deeply. This opens up the diaphragm and activates the body’s relaxation response.
As she became calmer, I talked to her about how excited and happy she was going to feel and focused on all the positive aspects of the next day so that those ideas stayed in her mind. She was able to sing brilliantly, had a fantastic time and the day was a great success.
It is important to give yourself time to stop and relax. I know several CEOs who go to the toilet for five minutes, do some deep breathing, relax mentally and can then go into a meeting able to make necessary decisions.
When breathing deeply, tell yourself positive messages. Your mind absorbs them and when you arrive in the situation you anticipated would be stressful, they will often be there in your head, calming you down. And think about the positives in your life, the people you love or who love you, and those feelings will help calm your body and mind.
What I’m suggesting might sound fluffy but I know from 18 years’ experience that it works. Here at Hypnosis Stafford we employ identical techniques to help you make the necessary changes you desire.