How to Deal With Concert Anxiety


tara thompson with the author
Here we are with Tara Thompson, who opened for Jennifer Nettles. She’s amazing and so funny! And moments after this picture was taken, she signed my purse.

Chad and I just returned from a much needed weekend away. We came back refreshed and rejuvenated… or “rejuveshed.”

We had tickets to a Jennifer Nettles concert in Evansville, Indiana. She was headlining a concert of all women country performers. Chad bought tickets as a late Valentines Day gift.

I was anxious leading up to the concert, even though our tickets were on the lower level, because of my agoraphobia. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a fear of large open spaces. Large theaters, stadiums and auditoriums can send me into a full scale panic attack. As I’ve worked to overcome this, things have gotten nominally better, but the anxiety still remains at times.

I just wanted to enjoy the whole experience and I didn’t want to let Chad down. We didn’t have ear plugs, and we were to be seated close to the front of the stage. My fear of loud noises was also something I worried about.

But you know what? For the first time I can remember, I had absolutely zero anxiety, from the time I entered the venue to the end of the concert.

Zero.

Even when they changed the lighting after the intermission… zero.

I couldn’t have been more excited about being able to enjoy an entire concert in a large arena without a lick of anxiety. To freely enjoy myself and the beauty of the music around me. With the love of my life by my side.

So today, I thought I’d give you some tips on enjoying a concert in a big venue if you have agoraphobia or any other anxiety disorder.

1. Nap, nap, nap: If at all possible a few hours before the concert, take a nap. One of my anxiety triggers is doing too much or too much going on at once. If I haven’t had sufficient rest during a long day and have a high-energy night, I’m more likely to go into a panic attack. I found that with a nap lasting at least an hour this weekend on the night of
the concert, I was able to enjoy myself without panicking.

2. If you aren’t familiar with the artist or band, do some research and play
some songs online before going to the concert. I find that if I don’t do this and don’t know the songs, the instruments can overwhelm the singer and I can’t hear the lyrics. When I can’t hear the lyrics and it’s just loud music with a heavy bass and drums, I get frustrated and can’t enjoy the performance.

3. I’ve used this tip as far back as I can remember: Chew some gum and have
something with you to occupy your hands, like a purse. Chewing gum can help calm your nerves and having something to do with your hands can help to ground you and take your mind off what is going on around you.

4. If you are able to, go to the venue before the event (like a few days before) and try and sit down in the seat you’ll have. Now, if you are extremely agoraphobic, you may need to try to do this as soon as you buy tickets for the event. Call the venue where the concert will be and ask if you can visit when the venue is empty. In living with agoraphobia, I’ve learned that venue managers can be extremely understanding and want to give their guests the most comfortable experience possible.

So there you have it. Having multi-faceted concert anxiety can be embarrassing and frustrating, but I hope you found these tips helpful. Remember you are never alone. Cheers!

Editor’s note: Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. This advice is based on individual’s experiences.

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