Even professional athletes can struggle with nerves. During stress, the brain releases adrenaline and other chemicals that prepare the body to act. As a result, you can encounter increased energy, alertness and excitement which is useful in short doses prior to performance. Sometimes people experience racing thoughts, pounding heart, breathlessness, jitters and other uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety. These physical changes and cognitive distractions can affect your performance.
Many variables can contribute to an experience of anxiety, including:
- personality traits
- past experiences
- comfort level
If any symptoms are too uncomfortable, or hinder performance you CAN make plans to work on it, just as you would your technical skills.
Some people find breathing slowly from the abdomen, or doing some guided relaxation useful. Other people find benefit in identifying and exploring the little “worried voice” in their head. Challenging unhelpful thoughts with more helpful ones, or being organised with planning, routines and lists can assist. All these strategies need practice, and most people struggle to manage anxiety because they want a quick fix.
Because triggers and solutions can be highly individual, many people benefit from professional assistance and individually tailored management strategies. Book an appointment with FOCUS Performance Psychology to assist you to manage your anxiety.