F.E.A.R.

I’ve spoken on this topic on this blog before.

This blog post has been percolating in my mind for some time and today I came face to face with a very sad human fear response.

I have my blood taken on a regular basis for health reasons. Today as I was chatting with the person behind the counter at the clinic a mother and young daughter came in. The daughter was crying. It was their second attempt today to get her blood taken.

I immediately went into coach mode, explained what I did and told the mom that I had tools that could help. They were ushered quickly into the room were blood samples are taken. I asked the mom to tell her daughter to take deep breaths. She said if she needed my help she’d come get me and left it at that.

I chatted some more with the person behind the desk and finally went into the treatment room because a colleague came to get her. They were having problems with the girl.

I again went into coaching mode and got down in front of the girl who was very upset and crying sitting on her grandfather in the chair to give blood. I explained what I did and introduced myself. I normalized the situation by explaining that it was okay for her to be afraid.

I got her to calm down somewhat by closing her eyes and breathing. Big deep belly breaths through her nose with her hand on her belly. Then I asked her to go to her happy place in her mind.

It turned out it was Dairy Queen which was awesome. I asked her what her favorite flavor of ice cream was. She said chocolate, “good choice” I said. I asked her to think about going there with the people she loved in her family. She was almost there, she lifted up her sleeve and as the technician got ready she went back into her head and panicked.

Poor kid. No amount of cajoling, rationalizing or threatening from staff or her mom would help.

One of the staff suggested I go ahead and get my blood taken and the girl could watch. I asked her what her biggest fear was. Was it the needle? The blood? I encouraged her and told her she was almost there when I had coached her. She couldn’t give me an answer.

I said I didn’t like needles either and was in often to get my blood taken and looked away.

We tried using music and a phone to distract her, she would have none of it.

Poor peanut. She had bad stomach cramping and was getting a battery of blood tests done to determine what was going on. The technician asked if the pain of her cramps was bad. The girl replied in the affirmative and the technician tried to explain that it would be like a pin prick and she would feel very little in comparison.

I felt sorry for the family. They would have to try again and it would get worse in the girl’s mind.

I did what I could, but unfortunately I was not able to get her to calm down enough to have her blood taken. A lot of mental training is required to get to that chair, there is just so much that can be done in a crisis. The poor mom had no idea as this was the first time they were getting her blood taken.

I spelled fear intentionally in the title. I have spoken about the acronyms here before. False evidence appearing real or face everything and rise. I wish I had more time with the girl to get her through this experience.

There is nothing I can do now to help but send that family love and light.

Take care sweet Laurie.

 

 

 

 

Breathing

It’s the end of the year. A time to reflect on all that has come to pass, find the lessons and set intentions for the new year.

What are your intentions? What do you want to manifest this year?

Take a moment to reflect. To be grateful and to dream.

In looking over the past year I can say that loss has featured prominently. I had to say goodbye to my beloved cat of many years. I had to say goodbye to a new love before anything could really come of it.

I’m still bruised and hurting from that last one.

That’s where breathing comes in.

When a song plays and stops me in my tracks and the tears come all I can do is breathe. When a memory surfaces and causes tears to flow all I can do again is breathe. When life gets to be too much and I can’t seem to take another step all I can do is breathe.

Breath. It slows everything down doesn’t it? It brings us back to ourselves. It grounds us and keeps us here in the present.

I have a lot to be grateful for in the past year. In the coming days I will sit with all this and set my intentions for 2016.

I urge you to do the same. What does the new year hold for you?

Set your intentions and watch them come to life.

May the new year bring you the desires of your heart.

 

 

 

 

Resurfacing

It’s been two months since I’ve written.

I don’t know about you but I’ve felt my absence on this platform. Two months is a long time to go missing and be absent. In sharing where I’ve been, I hope my honesty helps others.

Ever since college I’ve gone through periods of highs and lows. The highs are awesome and super productive. The lows are terrible and wracked with anxiety and fear.

That’s where I’ve been, going through yet another low. They tend not to last as long as the highs and somehow I manage to pull myself out.

It’s funny because I’ve recently taken on a new client. She’s an amazing kid but she is plagued with confidence and anxiety. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

That’s how the Universe shows up for me. This time it’s planted a client in front of me that reminds me of me. I get the incredible gift of helping her and for that I am truly grateful.

Because in helping her I am helping myself.

In listening to her describe her anxiety it sounds like my story. I too feel like something is wrong and like whatever it is won’t ever go away. Like her, I feel it most often while I’m lying in bed.

That’s where I share my tools with her and hopefully remember them when the anxiety I feel hits me.

I remember to breathe. Big, deep belly breaths. As many of them as I can manage. I’ll often use a YouTube meditation to help ease the anxiety and take my mind off things. I’ll try and go to my happy place.

Another secret revealed. Just because I do sports psychology and teach positive living tools doesn’t mean I have it all figured out and am immune to life’s challenges.

I have my share of them, the important thing is to come out on the other side as quickly as possible with my resiliency intact.

It’s my greatest hope for you too.

Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety is a beast my clients present with often.

They have no problem showing up with their A game in practice but when it comes time to make it count on race day they fall flat.

It’s fair to say they psych themselves out.

I was giving a session on the weekend and one of the coaches told me about one of the racers going through major performance anxiety last year. The poor kid couldn’t eat for days before a race and was a mess. Needless to say he couldn’t pull it together on race day.

He’s made quite the turnaround this season and is on the podium at just about every race.

Some mental preparation can help when performance anxiety strikes.

Here are three mental strategies to help you get back to your A game:

Breathing. Sounds odd because it’s something we naturally do without thinking about it. The difference is now I want you to think about it. Practice belly breaths. Send your breath past your lungs to your belly. Feel your belly go out when you inhale and come in when you exhale. Try and extend the breath for as long as you can. Play with it and see where it takes you. Guaranteed you will feel more calm and relaxed because of it.

Imagery. I’ve spoken about it here before. It’s such a powerful tool and it has such an impact on performance. Seeing yourself going through the motions of your athletic performance has far reaching benefits. The ski coaches I work with have taken to timing their ski racers to see how long it takes them to run the course through their minds. They are trying to get them to be mindful of time. You want your imagery in this instance to take as much time as it would to run the course.

Feelings. Think about how you want to feel when you’re engaged in your best performances. If you’re a ski racer I’m willing to bet fast is one of them. Once you’ve identified some feelings integrate them into your imagery. Really feel the feeling with every fiber of your being as you’re engaged in your imagery. Run your imagery with how you want to feel and see where it takes you.

Use these tools. Practice them and with time they will become second nature.

These tools are just as useful in sport as they are in life. Whether it be at school or on the job. A little positive imagery before a test or presentation can go a long way to a better outcome.

Pre competition plan

Another tool I use with athletes is pre competition planning. Do you show up on race day with a plan or hoping everything falls into place?

Good luck if you said the latter because you are definitely leaving things to chance.

Pre competition planning covers everything you do before a race. How many times will you run imagery? Will you talk to people or will you listen to music? How many times will you inspect the course? These are all elements that fall into a pre competition plan.

A pre competition plan can be as detailed as you like. You can describe what you’ll have for breakfast, how many runs you’ll take, your warm-up. Describe what it is you need to put in place in order to achieve great results come race day.

We are creatures of habit whether we like it or not. We like our coffee a certain way, we take the same route to work every day. Now think about how you’d feel if you ran out of creamer for your coffee one morning and there was a detour to your route. Would this bother you and put you off?

That’s why pre competition plans are so important. They ensure we have a routine we can rely on. Athletes, by their very nature, are superstitious. They like to have the same thing for breakfast, they wear a lucky shirt or socks on race day, they listen to the same song that gave them a win in their last race. The list goes on.

Include all those details in your pre competition plan. Knowing you have a plan in place is reassuring. It ensures consistency and results.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Breathing

Today’s tool is breathing. Something we do automatically and don’t really pay much attention to right?

Notice where your breath is coming from right now. Is it coming from your chest or your belly? What’s the difference?

Do you notice that breathing from your belly is calming? I teach all my clients to belly breathe. Three big belly breaths is what you want to strive for.

Notice how you feel afterwards. Calm? Relaxed? That’s the idea.

Breathing is a tool that can be used to calm down and also activate.

Play with your breath and weigh in!