Stage Fright 101 - What to Know Before Your Bar Mitzvah

Shaky knees. Sweaty palms.

Most everyone has dealt with stage fright at some point in their lives. But how well we handle it depends on a combination of factors, such as personality and physiology. The good news is there are several time-tested tricks everyone can learn to combat this common problem.

Step one is to understand what, exactly, stage fright is. Its symptoms affect five parts of the body:

Mouth: feels dry, the lips tremble
Throat: feels dry, tight
Hands: feel sweaty, cold, shaky
Stomach: feelings of nausea or "butterflies"
Knees: feel weak, shaky

Doctors say these are all part of the body's "fight or flight" response, changes the body undergoes when the brain perceives danger. They make sense if you need to, say, run away from a stampeding elephant. But not so much if you're reading a Torah portion.

The next step is to figure out how to end the stage fright - bar mitzvah association.