Natural Remedies for Audition Anxiety

Let’s be real here. Auditions are nerve-wracking. You are putting yourself in a surreal situation where you walk into a carpeted room, camera ready to record, casting director sitting across a desk, and the x-marks-the-spot mark where you are to stand, perform make-believe for a hot second, snap back to reality, thank the casting director for the lovely business opportunity and walk back out.

Oh – and you spent HOURS for that 2-minute interaction. And then, more than likely, you spend the following hours beating yourself up about how it went. And then, fingers crossed, you get the job.

What. A. Weird. Job.

I work with a lot of actors in my practice as a nutritionist, and being an actor myself, I can relate first-hand to a lot of issues and symptoms identified by my actor-clients: weight loss (check), skin flare-ups (former eczema sufferer here) and the big one – anxiety anxiety anxiety (ding ding ding!).

And when does anxiety seem to rear its head the most? Right before auditions. How nice, right?

So, of course, a lot of my clients want to know how to battle those pre-audition nerves, so they give the best performance they can possibly give.

Luckily, I have some pretty stellar health-hacks that can calm your system down before an audition, so you can be as present as possible and focus on the performance, not the nerves.

Before I talk remedies and health-hacks, it’s important to note that nerves are completely normal and healthy before auditions. In fact, they can actually help you perform and boost your brain power before you go in. It’s good to be a little nervous; it means you care. The trick is not letting them overcome you and “take hold” of the audition. Use them to your advantage, but don’t let them run the show.

Without further ado, here are some of my top remedies for audition anxiety. Don’t try them all at once; find the ones that work for you.

  • Holy Basil Tea (also known as Tulsi): This is a wonderful calming tea to have the morning of, en route, and all the way up to the moment of the audition. Holy Basil is known as an ‘adaptogen’, meaning that it helps the body cope with stress and bring balance to the body. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/). It’s a wonderful grounding tea to have on the way to auditions (from personal experience!).
  • GABA (chewable): Gaba is an inhibitory neurotransmitter we manufacture ourselves, but also comes in (safe to take) supplement form. It actually reduces neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system, literally calming the nerves. You can buy these at your local health food store (the chewables are typically 100mg). Chew on one an hour before the audition, and an additional one 30 minutes before, if need be.
  • Magnesium: This is known as the ‘anti-stress’ mineral and one in which a lot of people are deficient. If you find yourself more anxious than not, have issues sleeping and muscle cramping, it’s safe to say you should be taking a magnesium supplement regularly. Whether you take magnesium regularly or not, one product that you can add to your water before an audition is Natural Calm. This is a citrate form of magnesium that will help you feel more relaxed as you drink it. A word of caution though: only use 1-2 teaspoons of the powder; any more and it can have a natural laxative effect (not ideal before an audition!).
  • Rescue Remedy: This is a Bach Floral remedy to which a lot of people respond well. It comes in a spray form (the one I like the best). So, the morning of, and right before that audition, spray five sprays under your tongue to feel a little more Zen!
  • Box Breath: This magical breathing exercise activates your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest state) and is an incredible tool to get present, relax and calm quickly. Breathe in deeply for a count of 4, hold that breath for a count of 4, breathe all the air out for a count of 4, and hold that out-breath for a count of 4. Repeat for a couple of minutes before the audition.
  • Power Pose: This has been scientifically proven to enhance performance and boost confidence (https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=48292). Before the audition, in the waiting room (or in the washroom), put your fists by your side (like a superhero), stand up really straight, smile and hold that position for 1-2 minutes. It’s a wonderful tool that I personally use to boost confidence, so that I walk into that audition room with my head held high.

Listen, auditions are tough. I applaud you for consistently putting yourself out there and playing make-believe in front of a camera as much as you can!

Nerves are normal, but they shouldn’t take centre stage. Try out some of these remedies and health-hacks so that YOU can be the star of your audition, not the nerves, and book more!

Applause applause applause.

  Kyle Buchanan is a nutritionist, speaker and a proud ACTRA member, whose credits include Suits, Slasher and Murdoch Mysteries. With a passion for helping people reach their potential, he works with actors across North America to upgrade their instrument, so they feel and perform their very best. For further information on Kyle and his work, visit www.kylebuchanan.ca.