Improvisation—making up something, anything, new on the fly—is anxiety-reducing
, finds a study of young musicians who had butterflies in their stomachs and lumps in their throats before a performance. All that worry, self-doubt and all-or-nothing thinking vanished when artists got to express themselves "off the page." In that thinking-but-not-thinking, non-judging moment (which may also apply to improv comedy, expressive dance and other ad-libbed artistic performances), you don't have the bandwidth to be anxious about what your audience thinks (nor do they usually have set expectations). Your mind is in a better, freer place.