Better manage our ANXIETY!

Anxiety!  The dreaded spilling over disease!   Anxiety is a common psychological concern that is often characterized as intense worry that is difficult to control, as well as uncomfortable physical sensations, such as muscle tension, jitteriness, and rapid heart rate.  Anxiety can happen for a few reasons.  Some of us are just naturally more anxious as people.  Maybe are parents are anxious and they passed down some anxious traits.  In other cases, the environment that we are in can make us anxious.  For instance, having the stress of athletics, school, and social life can lead us to feel stressed and, if not dealt with properly, incredibly anxious.  In fact, anxiety is one of the most common mental/psychological concerns that student-athletes face.  Hence, in this week’s blog, I want to share a few simple tips to better manage your anxiety.

1)      Connect with the breath – If you have been following the blog, by now you should have realized how often we mention engaging in deep breathing.  The reason why breathing is so helpful is because it releases physical tension from the body, slows down the mind, and allows you to focus on being in the moment.  Whenever you are feeling anxious, just focus on slowing down your breath, and let the tension melt away.

2)      Stay in the now – Oftentimes when we are anxious we are overly focused on future stressors or past regrets.  In either case, our anxiety takes us from the current moment.  In times of stress reconnect to the current moment and simply focus on the task directly in front of you.  You can identify this by stating “What’s Important Now?” (W.I.N.).  After you’ve taken care of whatever is most pressing, then you can move onto the next thing.  Make sure to stay right in the moment and don’t get too far ahead of yourself.

3)      View stress differently – Anxiety can be awfully uncomfortable and distressing, especially when it becomes too much to handle.  As a result, we start over focusing on our anxiety and try to force it away.  Instead of doing this, try to accept your anxiety rather than fighting it.  B gently accepting and acknowledging your stress, you take away its power.  Appreciate that there is a lot on your plate right now and that feeling stressed is OK and normal.  Realize that as long as you connect with the breath, identify what’s important now, and take care of what you need to, the rest can fall into place.

We will never completely get rid of stress and anxiety.  The goal is learn to manage it more effectively.  By practicing these three simple tips you can learn to take control of anxiety, rather than it taking control of you.

Are you AWARE?


To be high performing athletes, we have to be incredibly aware.  Aware of our position on the field, aware of what the opponent is doing, or aware of the situation going on around us.  Improved awareness is critical to the technical, tactical, and physical performance!  However, we often neglect the importance of awareness in helping us achieve a high level of success.  By being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we can learn to identify, evaluate, and perhaps change those elements that are essential for our performance.


Our own internal thoughts can be our best friend or our worst enemy.  However, in order for us to befriend our thoughts and use them strategically to help improve our performance, we must first become aware of the thoughts we have and their quality.  To do this, we can simply take note of our thoughts after a performance.  What was the content? Were they positive or negative? In what situation did they occur? Were they helpful or destructive?


Awareness of our emotional, as well as physical, feelings is especially helpful to our performance.  Becoming aware of when we become frustrated or anxious can help us to better understand the triggers that bring on these feelings, which allows us to establish a game plan for dealing with these emotions in the moment.  In addition, awareness of our physical state can allow us to increase our energy if we’re too relaxed, decrease our anxiety if we’re too panicky, and release muscle tension if we’re too tight.  However, without awareness we would have little knowledge of the physical state we are in before it is too late.


What behaviors do you engage in that yield the greatest success?  What things do you do that get in the way of you progressing? Awareness of what we do, why we do them, and their impact, can have huge implications for our performance.  Ultimately we want to do more of what makes us perform better and less of what makes us not.  Being aware of this helps us to make more informed and deliberate choices that can lead to better outcomes on and off the field.

Are you AWARE?

Four Tips to Manage ANGER

Have you ever felt the urge to hurl your golf club into the water hazard? Scream obscenities at opponents? Call yourself an idiot for making a mistake?

Managing anger is a challenge for all athletes. Here are four strategies to manage your anger most effectively:

Emo_boy_03_in_rage1)    Learn the difference between anger (the feeling) and aggression (the behavior). We often lump these together but they are indeed different.

–Anger is a healthy, human emotion we all experience (whether or not we’re aware of it). People describe anger as tightening in the chest, pounding heartbeat, flushed face, muscular tension, trembling, and/or racing thoughts. Anger can help by energizing and signaling a time to assert our rights.

–Aggression is a behavior that’s not healthy. Screaming, throwing things, acting violently—these behaviors serve only to increase anger, not diffuse it, and may cause serious harm to others.

2)    BREATHE. Deep breaths are simple yet powerful. However, we often forget to use them when we need them most. What do you notice about your breath right now? If you’re angry or anxious, your breath is likely shallow and quick. To practice diaphragmatic or belly breaths, inhale through your nose and let the breath travel deep into the pit of your belly. Push your belly out with air. Exhale completely through your mouth. Rinse and repeat. Let your breaths gently become slower and deeper.

3)    Challenge your thoughts. Is it true someone can “make” you get angry? NO. We are responsible for our own emotions and reactions. Other negative interpretations include “He’s trying to get to me” or “Nobody understands” or “I just blew the game”. Seek the facts and avoid jumping to conclusions. Athletes can use “trigger words”: words or phrases about the task at hand that are under their control, like “Quick and loose”, “Eye on the ball”, “Stay low”, “Do my best”, etc.

4)    Communicate directly. Tell someone what you want or don’t want: “I want to stop arguing” or “I don’t want to disrespect you.” We’re more likely to reach our goals when we state them clearly. Did you know that simply labeling an emotion (e.g. “I’m angry”) can decrease its intensity? Instead of “You’re purposely ticking me off,” say “I’m angry when you leave your stuff by the front door.”

What strategies work best for managing YOUR anger?




Our attitude is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, influence of how we approach life and respond to situations.  Attitude is defined as a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something.  We have many attitudes.  Attitudes about the foods we like, the activities we do, and even about ourselves.  These attitudes then impact how we decide to approach life.  Though attitudes are settled and become habitual over time, they are not unchangeable.  In fact, if you dedicate yourself to changing your attitude about something, you can slowly re-wire your mind to more consistently think in this new way.

The great American Philosopher, William James, wrote “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of the mind.” This is an incredibly powerful skill to realize, understand, and implement.  If you are someone who currently struggles through life by having a negative attitude about yourself or about your situation, it’s time to consider whether you might benefit from tweaking your belief system.  Tweaking your belief system can be done in two ways:

1)      Gain new experiences

Sometimes we have attitudes that our based on the past and, unlike our iPhone’s, they do not automatically update every night.  We have to stretch our comfort zones to acquire new beliefs about life.  For instance, I never thought I would ever like guacamole, however, one day in Telluride, Colorado I tried it…I’ve loved it ever since.  Sometimes we need to try new things and put ourselves out there to experience an update in attitude.

2)      Hi-jack your brain

As described in the definition, attitudes are settled into our brains.  Much like a 4-lane, concrete highway our attitudes are smooth, fast, and accessible.  Thinking in a new way requires forcing yourself to take an alternative route.  These new routes are bumpy at first and the tendency is to want to get back on that smooth, 4-lane highway. However, in order to update your attitude, you have to prove that this new, alternative route is the better route.  Over time, it’ll get more use and eventually it becomes the fastest route to take.  So, in order to change your attitude, you have to constantly engage in your new way of thinking before it becomes habit.  Be aware of your old attitude, and any time it shows up, identify it and replace it with the new attitude.

In closing, I’d like to reiterate that each one of us can decide how we want to view life.  It takes effort and time to adopt a new way of thinking, but it can be done, and it’s our choice.

“We each have a choice: to approach life as a creator or a critic, a lover or a hater, a giver or a taker.” – Unknown