Performance Anxiety

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Our topic this month discusses how to manage performance anxiety. You don’t have to be an athlete or a public speaker to have experienced this phenomenon. You may have felt the symptoms of lightheadedness, excessive anxiety, or sweaty palms at raising your hand in a class to ask a question or proposing a toast at a wedding.  Whether it’s social or professional, the feeling comes from a desire not to be embarrassed by poor performance.
 
In all cases, performance anxiety is one of the most common social fears. So how do you manage jitters and keep them from adversely affecting your performance?
 
Here are a couple tips I use before speaking to a large group or playing in a tournament:

  1. Normalize your nervousness. You may assume you are the only one who feels like this, but everyone does at some point in life. Feelings are feelings, not a realistic assessment of your ability. Most often, the anxiety you feel prior to beginning the activity goes away once you begin.
  2. Pick one thing to focus on. Your mind may be going in a multitude of directions, trying to think of all the things you want to remember at the time of your performance. By choosing only one, your mind will settle upon that thought, and all other thoughts will subside.
  3. Worst-case scenario. Try to think of the worst possible thing that could happen – you play poorly with people watching or you stutter/trip over words while speaking to a group. Can you survive that? I try to think of all the people who love me, all the things that will still be the same at the end of the day, regardless of my performance. If I bomb, they will still be there for me.

    What are your strategies for managing anxiety? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Strategies for Staying in the Game

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When I was in my twenties and thirties, it was my job as a professional athlete to train for my sport (racquetball). I never thought much about getting older, or the fact that, once I hit 40, I would be dealing with aches, pains and injuries that took longer to heal. With each passing decade, I've had to learn to train differently in order to stay active and healthy.

 Here are my top strategies for staying in the game at any age:

  1. Strength training. The purpose of a regular total body strength training routine is to strengthen all your muscles, not just the ones you use every day. Your favorite activities use the same muscle groups over and over. Total body strength training helps to prevent imbalances and repetitive motion syndrome which shows up most commonly as tendonitis and bursitis of shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees.
  2. Embrace restorative activities like gentle yoga, pilates, tai chi, and easy walking. I think of these activities as ‘give back’ exercises. They are, by nature, designed to restore body, mind, and spirit. By including restoration in your overall fitness plan, you get the benefits of moving your body without depleting your reserves.
  3. Take rest days. Your body will tell you when you need a break. If you feel sluggish, stale, and less enthusiastic than your usual self for several days in a row, most likely you need a break. Pushing through when tired is not better than taking a rest day. 
  4. Warm up and cool down. Moving your body prior to the start of your game or training session, delivers blood and oxygen to your muscles and joints. This prepares your body for the challenges of activity. Cooling down by stretching after exercise enhances flexibility, returns your heart rate and breathing to normal, and helps to remove waste products, such as lactic acid, from your muscles.


The older you get, the more important it becomes to pay attention to the signals your body sends you, in order to stay fit and free from injury. You may not be able to avoid injury altogether, but you can provide a strong defense against the most common and avoidable mistakes by following these strategies. 

PARADIGM of AGING

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Are You an Aging Warrior? Welcome to the Club!

It’s an interesting time to be you. The entire paradigm of aging has shifted dramatically, and you are leading the way. You’re no longer hanging up your racquets, skis, bikes, or running shoes at the first sign of pain. You want to be active and vibrant well into your older age.
 
There is one big challenge that comes along with your quest to stay fit. I’ll call it the ‘acceptance’ of a new normal. Not pushing through pain, maintaining your muscle, and taking time off from activity are now your health ‘strategies’.
 
If you’re like the warriors I know, the new normal is outside your comfort zone. You are the generation of ‘just do it’, ‘feel the burn’, ‘more is always better’. You must first accept and then begin a new way of training both physically and mentally.
 
Acceptance is not the easiest attitude to adopt, but pain and injury are even less fun. I looked up the definition of the word ‘acceptance’ and here’s what I found:  Acceptance is “the act of taking or receiving something offered”.
 
What is your aging body offering? What is it you need to receive?
 
I think of being an older athlete as learning to play a new game. This is a game that requires some intricate strategies. It requires playing, training, and resting smarter. I accept the challenge of my less resilient body, and find a way to win anyway.
 
What do you think, my fellow warriors? I’d love to hear from you!

 

3 Ways to STOP Mindless Eating

Do you come home after a busy day, eat dinner, and snack your way through the evening in front of the TV? Many people routinely use television as a way to relax and unplug from the day and it's not unusual to bring along a snack. A common struggle among my coaching clients is that these behaviors tend to undermine their fitness goals, and they have a hard time breaking the habit.

The challenge in shifting this dynamic is that TV, snacking, and relaxing are emotionally linked and it's difficult not to do one without the other. How do you unlink these behaviors in order to still enjoy them? Here are some ideas:

  1. View your favorite TV shows in another room. Instead of where you normally watch them, go to a different room and don’t bring food along. Better yet, find a space where you can be on the floor while you watch and do a series of stretches. If you have a treadmill or stationary bike, walk or bike while watching.
  2. Choose a different way to relax in the evening: quiet meditation, write in a journal, read a book, take a bath, do a yoga video, play a musical instrument, pursue an artistic talent like crafting or painting.
  3. Find healthy hacks for your favorite snacks. If you are also watching TV, measure out what you will eat. Eat slowly, and when that amount is gone, get up from watching TV and do something else.

If you need some help breaking through your patterns, send me a note. I’d love to hear from you.


Coaching vs Therapy

As a life coach, people often ask me what the difference is between a coach and a therapist. There are some similarities and differences between what coaches and therapists do. Omega Institute for Holistic Studies provides some guidelines in this Huffington Post article.

“Coaches are useful for people looking to reach a specific goal or break a habit, often in a particular area, like health or career.
Therapists generally address long-term emotional issues or problems, like trauma, addiction, anxiety, and depression.”

Get clear on your needs and goals first—then you can begin your search for the right coach or therapist.

Read the Huffington Post article here

What are your goals? I’d love to help—email me:  marcy@marcylynch.com