Ro: Before any major race, my dad’s final text was always “relax n enjoy.” I used to think “how does my dad know what I’m going through, I’m so nervous, etc.” and “he didn’t have a clue” but now I see that he DID have a clue and was more in tune than I gave him credit for. When I AM able to “relax and enjoy”, I usually have my best performances! Go Da.
Like Ro, I spent a lot of my career getting too wound up before competitions. I thought I was doing what an athlete was supposed to do…get pumped up! At first, nervous energy is fun. It’s like being caffeinated…you feel heightened; alert; excited. But the closer it gets to show time, being wound up becomes a huge liability. Let me explain why.
You see, before every single performance event, no matter how good you are, seeds of doubt and fear will blow into the garden of your mind. When you are in a relaxed state, you can see these weeds for what they are, (ridiculous lies trying to get in the way of your awesomeness). Relaxation allows you to bring a steady hand over to these weeds, and remove them gently. But when you are nervous and wound up, these natural doubts and fears get fertilized and nurtured and your hands are too shaky to remove them. They multiply until you are miserable and all the fun is sucked out of it. Under-performance awaits you.
Sympathetic Nervous System
The key Ro and I have learned over the years is learning to stay relaxed for as long as possible in the lead up to a big event, trusting that in the heat of the moment of competition, your body will know what to do and will bring out your best performance.
Benefits of Relaxation
This isn’t voodoo stuff. Everywhere from my college Biology texts to the Complete Idiots Guide to Yoga, you’ll find the same effects of chilling out.
- a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration.
- a decrease in blood pressure.
- a decrease in muscle tension.
- a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen.
- a reduction in general anxiety.
- a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks.
- an increase in energy levels and in general productivity.
- an improvement in concentration and in memory.
- an increase in focus.
- a decrease in fatigue, coupled with deeper and sounder sleep.
- improved self-confidence.
Now if those don’t sound like they’d help performance and wellness, I give up.
WHEN TO RELAX
To the body, all stress is the same. Anxiety about a competition, work expectations, or an upcoming exam causes the same effects in the body as being chased by a lion. We live in a culture where we get used to operating with low grade anxiety and stress all the time until we don’t even notice it anymore. We forget that it is possible to perform optimally in most situations without allowing ourselves to get worked up about it. The truth is, it is more than possible, it is critical for our health and well being. When we are stressed, we don’t regenerate, detoxify, digest, or rebuild. Instead we are primed and ready to fight or flee…a total over-reaction that can be corrected with practice.
HOW TO RELAX
Relaxation starts with awareness. When I’m stressed out, my stomach tightens up. I never used to notice it, but then when I asked my doc about having trouble sleeping, he suspected stress and brought my attention to it. I was told to keep my belly nice and loose, like a Buddha belly. Throughout the day I would check in with my stomach and make sure it was relaxed. I was SHOCKED that at least 20 times that day, it was tightened up when I checked on it! I’d relax it and two minutes later, it would be tightened up again! This was a huge wake up call for me. How had I become so stressed out? How hadn’t I noticed it before? Why was I reacting this way to insignificant things? This means that I wasn’t recovering fully, digesting my food properly, my liver couldn’t detoxify things the way it’s supposed to, and who knows what else was being affected. Long term, this would manifest in all kinds of illnesses and diseases (just thinking about this stressed me out!) Learning to relax would not only help me become a world class athlete, it would improve my quality of life and help me become a healthy, vibrant old lady one day. It was time to take action and learn to become more aware.
Tools to Help You Relax
As you know, Believe I Am is all about sharing tools to help you achieve a particular state of mind that will improve your life. These are the tools we have to help you achieve relaxation:
Awareness: Recognize that getting all worked up over things destroys your health and dampers your performance. Get in touch with your body and mind and learn to recognize when you are stressed (tight stomach, anxious feelings, nail biting, bouncing one leg, etc).
When you recognize stress, stop what you are doing, take a deep breath
and repeat the simple phrase “I Am Relaxed.” Notice how you regain
control and peace within your body and mind quickly and efficiently.
It’s really amazing! Go back to your task with your new state of mind.
Visual Cues: We’ve created a visual cue of a flower that has the words “I Am Relaxed” hidden it it. This is the design that we like to use in our own practice. You see the word, wear the word, and become the word. When you put on our Relaxed hoody dress, like all our apparel, it works like a superhero costume, helping you channel the state of mind you are seeking. Put it on first thing in the morning to help you wake up gradually and get the day started off on the right foot. Use it before a big competition, or while traveling, or in any other situation where you want to be relaxed.
Do Yoga: Yoga guides you through movement of body and breath. The posture Shavasana is extremely helpful to encourage full relaxation and regeneration.Back To Blog Roll