Facing Fear (part 3)

Sport Psychology for Athletes

Facing your fears can be very difficult, but not doing so may result in many missed opportunities, self-doubt, avoidance, and low self-esteem. Fear produces hot sweats, clammy hands, muscle tension, tightness in the throat/chest, difficulty breathing or increased respiration, fidgetiness, and shakiness. With these symptoms it can be very difficult to concentrate and focus on any task. In order to best minimize these symptoms, an arsenal of coping strategies can be employed.
Unfortunately, one of the first methods we try to employ to rid ourselves of fear is avoiding the thing that produces the fear in the first place. This approach, regrettably, results in reinforcing the fear and making it more pronounced. By a different method, however, we can navigate and overcome the usual symptoms of fear by taking steps to produce their opposites. It is actually impossible to feel both anxious and relaxed at the same time.
Therefore, strategies that result in slow, deep breathing, relaxed muscles, composure, and a state of ease are vital. These strategies are beneficial in many ways — athletes who are aware of their bodies and who practice control over their breathing will have a step above the competition. Anyone who uses the same strategies to overcome fear will recognize their empowered awareness.
Top strategies to relax the mind and body:
1. Diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing; using the diaphragm/belly)
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
3. Self-Talk
4. Imagery
5. Music
Practice can enhance any of these strategies. When facing fear and attempting to overcome the symptoms associated to it, eliciting these techniques can help you to master yourself.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.