Chill out instead of stressing out.
Throughout your day you’ll have moments of waiting.
You’re five minutes early for a meeting.
You’re in line at the post office or grocery store.
You’re waiting for your significant other at the restaurant.
Customer service calls.
At the car shop.
As an athlete, you’ll have LOTS of moments of downtime, between events, weather delays, changes In heats, etc. The better you are at adapting, the better you’ll be able to recover and respond.
Sometimes the waiting can be viewed as an annoyance and you’ll start to feel agitated by the inconvenience. Or, you can see it as a chance to chill for a couple of minutes and it’s no big deal.
If you want to be more calm and less stressed, waiting moments are a perfect time to practice patience. You can learn to keep yourself from getting annoyed, bitter, angry or upset.
When things aren’t going our way or are taking longer than expected, we tend to think that something external is causing our impatience. It’s actually our view of the situation.
When you’re waiting…you have choices. When you start to feel frustrated or impatient, you can use that time and find the opportunity instead.
Here are a few things to try (and if you’re an athlete these practices will improve your mental game).
1. First and foremost, start thinking, “Thank you.”
If you want to squash frustration or annoyance, just be grateful. At the very least think, “This can be a good thing.” Think of the waiting as an opportunity to slow down.
Even if you’re not really glad that you’re waiting, it will help give you another perspective to look at it as an opportunity instead of an inconvenience to your schedule. Consider all of the things that are positive. Then, try one of the following strategies.
2. Practice tuning into your breath.
Try square breathing, 1-2 breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. Heck, just take 5-20 deep breaths and you’ll feel a lot better and the wait will probably be over or almost over. Here are some mp3 downloads to practice.
Sometimes, while standing in line, instead of grabbing my phone and scrolling social media or responding to texts, I’ll just start counting. I’ll play a little game with myself and guess how many seconds it’ll be until it’s my turn.
4. Do nothing and relax any tension in your body and face.
See just how calm you can be. (It’s especially interesting when you realize just how rushed and frazzled others around you are.) Get comfortable doing nothing — it’s good for ya. Often, instead of trying to do something to pass the time, I’ll just be still, maybe even close my eyes and totally relax.
5. Be productive.
If you can tackle something on your to-do list while waiting, it might be a good idea. Or, you may make a list, take care of some things that you’ve been putting off – aim to get something done. Take a deep breath then think of one thing you can get done with the time you have while waiting. Again, you can use that time wisely instead of feeling like it was wasted.
Use the time to think through what you’re going to do next, and how you want it to go. Visualize yourself moving with ease through obstacles, winning, taking care of it, and being proud of how you navigate the future.
Delays can be annoying and frustrating but they can also be no big deal. You don’t have to let them ruin your day or put you in a bad mood. While you’re waiting, you might as well make it worth it. If you can do something productive in the meantime, you’ll feel better about the time you spent. Each of the above practices are better than complaining or getting angry. They’ll help you from getting even more tense, anxious, rushed or stressed.
Aches, pain, discomfort, and soreness are all parts of being an athlete. But beyond the physical limitations, injury also takes a mental toll. If you’re in a predicament where you can’t train the way you want to, it’s easy to get down and frustrated. You can become more stressed about all of the uncontrollable factors and you can become agitated and unmotivated.
During a season of injury you may feel like you’ve lost a sense of identity, a source of positive esteem and a source of stress relief. This is completely normal for athletes, the key is being aware of your mental state, and making the appropriate changes to improve.
- Sense of Identity – It may be hard to sit on the sidelines or watch other people do the things you used to be able to. You may feel like you just don’t have a purpose if you’re not training how you’re used to. You have many other roles, and you are far more than just an athlete.
- Source of Positive Self-Esteem – Fitness and sport make us feel great. We often have feelings of confidence and positivity when we are finished with training, a game or competition. Spend time doing other things that give you some positive feedback.
- Source of Stress-Relief – You may feel more stressed because of the predicament you are in and all of the factors that you couldn’t control relating to your injury. Also, since you can’t work out like you want to, you don’t have your normal outlet. You have to find another positive way to relieve your stress.
Each day that you wake up, you may begin to assess your injury and think through how “bad” it is. But, then it’s key to remind yourself of all that IS feeling well. Think through all the strengths that you still have, all that you still can do, and all the aspects of your health that you’re thankful for.
You must focus on doing what you can, with what physical ability and blessings you have on THAT day (which may be different from yesterday or tomorrow). Remember, you’re not guaranteed anything, so it’s very important to do the best you can at any given moment.
14 Ways To Keep A Strong Mindset While You Overcome Injury
- Pick up an old or a new hobby. Something that is not related to your sport or training. This may be something you’ve put in the backseat for a while or a brand new hobby.
- Make relationships with others who are rehabbing or having the same type of setback. Build your network so that you feel supported through your journey.
- Find a way to share what you have learned by going through this pain, suffering or change. You can do this with your social media, on a message board or just in your daily conversations with others.
- Cry, throw a tantrum and be upset. Let it out, especially to your support team. It is imperative that you voice your emotions as part of dealing with your injury or sickness.
- Seek care and treatment. Pursue the right care. Never stop finding a way to improve your day-to-day condition.
- Find a new stress-release. Often times, fitness is where we blow off steam. You have to find something else that restores and rejuvenates you. Pray, yoga, meditate, read, spend time in nature or make music.
- Get physically good at something else. If you’re leg is out of commission, build your upper body by working on pull-ups, dips and heavy presses. Become a better swimmer if you can. If you’re unable to use your body at all, you might want to focus on learning a new language, or picking up another new skill.
- Make goals. It doesn’t matter how small they are. Work to increase your range of motion or stamina in rehab. Pick something that you currently struggle with and make some achievable goals.
- Spend more time doing something else you are good at or passionate about. You need to continue to do things that bring you positive feedback and self-confidence.
- Don’t compare yourself to your old self or everyone around you. You are you, today. A person who is fully capable of doing what you can, right now, to maintain or improve your condition
- Write things down (therapy appointments, workouts, thoughts, etc.), so that you can see, feel and reflect on your growth, both physically and mentally.
- Search for success stories, not horror stories about others who have been in a similar predicament and overcame or found the silver lining.
- Hire a coach. Start to work with someone who can work with you on creating and monitoring goals and redefining your mission. This person will encourage you grow and improve physically and mentally.
- Prioritize being positive and focusing on what you can control. You can look at your injury as a chance, or a blessing in disguise, that you can spend more time on something else you’ve been neglecting. Since you can’t always control the injury itself, you can control your response to how you want to cope with it.
Ready to take your performance to the next level? I put all of my best tips, insight, drills and strategies into ONE comprehensive program.
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Meditation is simply taking the time to quiet the mind and to be still without distractions. You can meditate with a specific purpose, or you can just let your thoughts wander. Make reflecting and meditating a habit by scheduling time for it daily. If you’re an athlete, there are numerous benefits that you can get from meditating
Top 5 Benefits of Meditation For Athletes
- It will help you stay calm and balanced. Because most things you do are “for time” or are at “max intensity.” With meditation, you can just BE and actually take your time, slow down, and relax. The benefits from calming your mind, and giving yourself a mental break are huge. You’ll be able to sort through your thoughts and focus your attention on what matters most. This practice will actually help you to focus better when you’re in the gym because you’ll have a clearer mind that is less distracted on the irrelevant.
- It will help you feel less anxious and stressed. One of the biggest benefits of meditating is to reduce your stress levels. If you’re incredibly motivated to reach your goals, then you are likely working your ass off and you feel a bit of pressure. You place expectations on yourself, and want to live up to your capabilities. Meditating can help to reduce your stress, and eliminate unnecessary pressures, expectations, and harmful thought patterns.
- It will help you recover. You’re likely already prioritizing recovery strategies that help your body, but it’s also imperative to practice mental rejuvenation. If you’re coming off of a challenging training cycle or event, then you can set up some mental recovery to help you bounce back quicker. When you could use a break from training, spend some extra time meditating, relaxing, and pursuing other passions that help you feel rejuvenated. This will help to restore your mind so that you can hit your training hard again after a couple of days off.
- It will help you to be more adaptable. If you want to compete with the best, you have to learn how to channel your thoughts so that they help you and don’t hold you back. When you can control your emotions and attitudes, you’ll be able to get the most out of your abilities. Meditating helps you tune into your thoughts and therefore you’re more aware of which ones are impacting you. Mental awareness is an incredibly valuable asset to performance.
Grab these 11 MP3s that include: breath work, visualizations, gratitude practices, mental prep, restoration and MORE
You can learn a lot about yourself by watching yourself perform on video. It’s best to do this with a coach or training partner who also knows you very well so that you have another set of eyes giving you feedback. When you want to get the best score possible, there are numerous parts of your workout to analyze.
Grab your stop watch, take some notes and become more aware of where you might be able to make up some time to perform a bit better. Remember, watching yourself on video is a valuable tool whether regardless of if you’re doing that event again or not. You may see things that you want to continue doing in the future, and you may find many other areas that you can improve on.
Of course, during the workout, you gotta bring your best effort, and that’s really the most important part of all of this. But, if you can assess your training videos, you’ll be able to improve your score for when it matters most.
Continue to look for areas that you can improve on, and appreciate the areas that you crushed!
Aspects of your performance to assess
- Layout – Were you minimizing space between movements? Was anything causing you to take more transition or rest time than you’d like?
- Validity – Did you meet the standards and was your score/time accurate?
- Movement – Were you moving as efficiently as possible using solid and safe techniques?
- Pacing – How long did each round take you and how long it took you to complete each movement/set?
- Non-work time – How much time did you take for transitions or rest?
- Body language and posture – Were you spending precious time bent over, head down, pacing, fidgeting, chalking?
- Focus – Were you regularly looking at the judge, the clock, spectators, or all over the place throughout the wod?
- Breathing – Were you taking intentional deep breaths throughout? When were you intentionally taking a centering breath or was it erratic from the start
- Response to challenge – How did you respond to a no-rep or frustration during the WOD?
If you watch yourself perform a movement poorly or break down in a WOD, you can then practice visualizing a smooth performance. You can use the temporary setbacks as steps to help you get to the next level. Recreate the same situation in your mind and make the changes that you need to in order to improve your performance.
Imagine yourself staying composed and confident while you are moving perfectly through the reps. Continue to visualize yourself fixing that poor performance with better mechanics and the proper mentality.
Get comfortable watching yourself on video so that you can practice mentally rehearsing a more positive performance and outcome.
The more aware you can be of your performance breakdowns, the better you will be at fixing them…therefore having them less often.
Want help with this? Check out the COACHING OPTIONS
Be A More Focused and Present Athlete
One of the best things that you can do for yourself is continue to learn about, and improve your mentality. It’s important to examine yourself and become aware of which thoughts are good for you and which ones aren’t. Too much thinking about the past, or the future, will keep you from performing your best IN THE PRESENT.
You can actually train your mind to be more focused on there here and now, but it does take work. Your thoughts will continue to stray to what could have been, or what might happen, but you can notice that then bring your attention back to the present. The more you do this, the easier and quicker the process will become.
Think about these questions:
- Are you constantly thinking about the past, and beating yourself up for what “should have been” or “what was”? Does your mind feel cluttered with thoughts about what you “could have done”?
- Do you find yourself getting caught up with what you “have to do”? Are you always thinking about “what’s next”, and where you “need to go”, what you have to take care of?
You can let go of those thoughts about what could have been, and start thinking about “what is” instead. Bring your attention and energy back to what you’re doing right now, and give your all to that, and only that.
You can train to become more focused on the present, so that you can let go of the past, or think less about the future. You can improve your focus and to stay more present, especially when you’re feeling pressured, stressed or rushed.
- Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention solely on the present moment. The more you practice this, the less you’ll be caught up in your worries, concerns, doubts and the outcomes.
So, how do you do it?
You can practice mindfulness very informally. Simply do one thing at a time and think about only that thing.
- When you’re brushing your teeth, driving, rowing on the erg, or petting your dog, try to focus on all of your senses and emotions. Tune into exactly what you’re doing and how it feels. Focus on all of the little details and think only about the task you’re doing.
- If your focus goes off track, bring it right back to what you’re doing. See if you can focus on exactly how it feels, and how you can do that specific task to the best of your ability. Stay present and challenge your thoughts to only think about the now.
Staying present will help you get the most out of each moment.
The more you practice this in your life outside of the gym, the easier it will be to focus when it counts in training and competition.
You’re having doubts and you’re timid. You think you might fail or it could be very hard. You are afraid of the unknown or the thought of being uncomfortable. You are fearful of what others will think, or how it will turn out. You think of all the worst case scenarios.
Fear, by definition, is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
I could go on and on about how fear limits us and how we can all break free from it.
If you’re waiting for all of the risk to be gone, that probably won’t ever happen. If you’re waiting for the time to be perfect, there is no such thing. If you’re waiting for the fear to go away completely, that’s unrealistic.
“If you kill the butterflies in your stomach, you’ll kill the dream. Most people back away when they get that nervous, uncomfortable feeling. But that feeling signals you’re doing something that matters to you. Embrace the feeling. Lean into the discomfort. Try to understand what the feeling is telling you. Train yourself in the alchemy of fear.” Jonathan Fields
The way I look at it, you have two options when it comes to fear.
1) Do everything you can to face them. Accept that you might mess up and that things might not look pretty. Know that it might be tough but You will get over it, through it, and you will be so glad you faced it.
2) Don’t do anything. Continue to replay the fear and worry in your mind and it will continue to build it up even more. If you choose not to face your doubts and worries, you will wonder forever.
You can either choose to conquer you fears, or you can continue to let them limit you. But, you must know that whichever option you choose (action or inaction), it will create a pattern. Each time you choose to deal with them, or not deal with them, it will make it more likely that you will pick that path again.
Your choices become habits, and therefore define how you approach training and life.
If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, tired, discouraged, or pessimistic…then, today, do something that you are just a little afraid of doing. Do something that you usually wouldn’t. Take one step to overcome a fear.
Do something. Make a move. Take a chance. There’s no better time than now. Choose to attack your damn fears.
Want to improve? Want more success? Ready to see even bigger changes this year? I hope so. Me too.
We all have limiting thought patterns, that can hold us back and keep us from getting to the next level. The key is identifying which ones you use, and working to change them. Once you are aware, you’ll be more likely to catch yourself and consider a new way of looking at the situation.
Think about these examples and see if there are any thoughts that you can let go of so that you can continue to improve and see results.
3 Thoughts To Let Go Of
1. Let go of the perception of overnight success.
Good things take time. Results take a lot of effort. It’s not likely that your business will boom overnight. It’s not likely that you’re going to put 50 lbs on your Deadlift overnight either. If you want to improve, you have to embrace the journey and realize that it will take time. When you begin to feel frustrated about your lack of progress, meet with a coach to see if there are any aspects of your health or fitness that you’re neglecting. Then come up with a focused plan that you will have help with.
2. Let go of the idea that it’s too late.
It’s never too late – never, never, never. You aren’t where you thought you’d be at this stage of the game? That’s okay, don’t give up if you really want it. Someone else is advancing more quickly than you? Who cares, encourage them and get back to what you are focused on doing. No matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been pursuing this, it is never too late.
3. Let go of unhelpful thoughts and words.
Each day, focus on eliminating negative thoughts and words. Try with all of your might, to not talk down to yourself or anyone else. Notice the negative thoughts and stop yourself. When you can remove your sabatoging self-talk, and replace it with more helpful language, you’ll feel better immediately.
Start letting go of those 3 thoughts, and focus on improving your mindset so that you can be your best. Like I always say, your thoughts either help you or they hold you back. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of when your mind is working FOR you and not AGAINST you.
Your self-talk can make or break your mindset. It can propel you forward, and help you be more positive. Or, it can limit you, hold you back and keep you in a negative space.
Many athletes create more stress in their lives than others simply because of how they talk to themselves. Life doesn’t have to be hard, stressful, complicated, miserable or dreadful all of the time. You don’t always suck, you’re not so bad, you can get better, and there are always positives and opportunities for growth. Sure, you’ll face hardships, and tough times, so will I. But, how you talk to yourself and about your situation will impact your mindset about it.
When you improve your self-talk, you’ll have a better frame of mind, and you’ll be more confident taking on challenges. It’s all about creating a perspective that helps you enjoy your training, and helps you improve.
Examples of unhelpful self-talk:
- I have to be able to do it myself
- I gotta prove how good I am
- I have to do it right the first time
- I hate messing up
- I can’t get better
- I’m so bad at this
- I hate it
- I don’t want to feel this way
- I’m not allowed to show weakness
- I can’t make mistakes
- If I don’t win, I suck
- I’ll never be good at it
- Everyone needs to love me
- If I am criticized then I’m a loser
- I can’t ask for help
- No one else understands
- I can’t show any weakness
When you think these things, your mentality will suffer, and your performance will be impacted.
Analyze why you are feeling them and where those thoughts come from. Re-center yourself with deep breaths and focus on what really matters and what you control. Build your mental strength, by improving how you talk to yourself.
Examples of positive self-talk:
- I’ll get better with practice
- I can do this
- I’ll keep working at it
- Messing up is progress
- I can accept how I’m feeling
- I’ll try until I can
- Each mistake is another step forward
- I’m awesome, regardless of the outcome
- My performance doesn’t define me
- My effort is what matters
- I’m strong and capable
- I can do anything I put my mind to
- I’m better when I get help
- Feedback is good for me
- I’ll miss, but I’ll keep trying
- Champions are build in training
- No outcome is a bad outcome
Who is the one person that is going to be in your head in every situation for the rest of your life? You are.
You can support, encourage, challenge and push yourself. Or you can doubt and limit yourself.
My goal is to help you develop a strong and helpful voice in your own head… so that you can get the results you want.
Here’s what you can do to get started
2) List the top 10 comments or cues that a coach has said that you’ve found helpful – continue to coach yourself with similar phrases
3) List any negative or unhelpful thoughts that you have during workouts – write down positive cues that you can use instead
There’s an infinite number of ways you can improve your mindset and your self-talk to make sure you’re getting the most out of yourself.