Keeping Calm During Competition

If you are a professional athlete or you regularly take part in sporting competitions, take note. Being anxious and stressed can lead to an increased risk of injury, as found in a study carried out at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in 2015. Stress can be harmful but it can also be useful. As stated by the study researchers, elite athletes are in tune with their bodies like few others. This means that if they are anxious about injury or illness, this could be a good indicator of the degree of seriousness. If you are part of a team, what can you do to stay calm but also make sure you are 100% ready for your next competition?

Therapy is Key for Professional Teams

If you are a pro athlete, professional therapy should be provided by your team. Having someone you can openly talk to about your worries is key. A therapist can rely on approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which will help you understand the vital link between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They will help you frame your thoughts in a more positive light or enlighten you on changing behaviors that can lead to mental distress. Apart from talking to your therapist, you should also have a good relationship with your manager, trainer, and doctor. You should feel free to be open about fears and symptoms of pain or injury.

Embracing Holistic Stress-Relieving Techniques

All athletes face some level of stress when testing their mettle against other players. Even supposedly “calm” sports like golf can cause anguish when obstacles arise or when other players begin leading the scorecard. To reduce stress during golf and other sports, lessons learned from mindfulness-based stress reduction and other holistic approaches can work. Mindfulness invites you to step inside your stress, recognizing while knowing it is fleeting—instead of escaping from it. Other useful techniques include controlled breathing, yoga, and Tai, Chi, all of which have been found in study after study to lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Athletes can take additional steps, such as getting good rest, sticking to routines, and (in the case of mentally challenging competitions like golf) weighing up their decisions calmly before choosing their club and shot strength.

Spending Time Outside

If you practice indoor sports, make it a point to enjoy a little “green time” in a serene natural spot every day. Cornell University researchers have found that just 10 minutes in a green setting has a powerful ability to quell stress. Blue time (time spent near oceans or bodies of water) is just as effective, with the sound of water also being a proven stress buster. If you work indoors, bring a few indoor plants to your office. They have been found to help calm human beings down and make them happier and more productive—as found in University of Exeter research.

Stress and anxiety can increase the likelihood of injuries. Keep them at bay by talking to a therapist if you compete professionally. You can also try a few mindfulness techniques and make it a point to enjoy a little green time every day.

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