If you compete in sports at a professional level you no doubt already have a coach, nutritionist, and mentor. You invest time and money in pursuit of the ultimate goal: to win.
But what happens when you reach a plateau? What happens when those feelings of self-doubt creep in during the early hours or when you hear the whispers of self-sabotage and the dreaded guilt, shame and disapproval knock your confidence?
Athletes can spend a lot of time traveling to events around the world - often on your own when thoughts and mental dialogue can repeat on constant replay. Those feelings that can grip you into depths of despair and cast shadows over your ability need to be taken charge of before they do damage to your performance.
So what can you do?
1. Tell yourself to 'STOP' it takes 12 seconds for the amygdala part of the brain to release the stress hormone cortisol which is responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response. After you have instructed your body to 'STOP' count down slowly from 12 to 1 sending each breath further and further down your body until all feelings of stress have been replaced with feelings of deep calm. Feel your body physically altered into a state of blissful relaxation where you are in control again.
2. Remember you have the POWER TO CONTROL your thoughts. You can choose to jump off the hamster wheel and see that thought from a different perspective. Just as you have chosen in the past to listen to that thought you can choose to STOP listening. That thought is temporary - write it down, say it out loud. Once you see it or hear it you will be better equipped to deal with it, laugh at it, put it in perspective - BURN IT if you have to. You have complete control to let it go and FREE yourself.
3. Notice where a thought or feeling starts in your body - surprisingly, once you start noticing more about your body's reactions, you'll notice that not all start in your head! EXPERIENCE THE EXPERIENCE - where has it started? Can you give it a color, a shape or a noise? Is it traveling in a particular direction? If so - start REVERSING, SHRINKING, FADING & MOVING that feeling until you can dissolve it, dissipate it and evaporate it, making it disappear completely.
4. COACH yourself - If you find yourself starting thoughts with, 'I don't know why...' Ask yourself, 'What if I did know? What if I was a person who did know the answer/ what to do/ why it happened...' etc. Leave the self-sabotage circle and start a new thread of thought patterns. Constructive, useful ones that will leave you feeling empowered and in control again.
5. REMEMBER your successes; EXPLORE your motivation and CREATE VIVID recalls of times of past triumph, victories, and accomplishments. Take yourself back to moments of pride - recapture those feelings, sights, sounds, and smells. RE-LIVE those moments and feel the rush through your body as your neurotransmitters fire off all those beautiful happy hormones, bringing you to a place of peace and tranquility again.
6. TRICK your brain and override feelings of tension, stress, and anxiety by placing a chopstick in your mouth horizontally corner-to-corner and biting on it. Your neurotransmitters will be activated by the tiny muscles in your cheeks from forced smiling, flooding your body with the feel-good hormones dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure too.