A fight-or-flight situation is when our body reacts to a potentially fearful occurrence in the environment. Our sympathetic nervous system gets activated in high-performance circumstances, causing us to feel emotions like anxiousness or excitement.
Olympic athletes work hard at their sport and the daily art of managing anxiety and taking responsibility. ‘The Olympic Formula’ is not about claiming the top spot. It is about giving your best and improving continuously. Parents and teachers can relay this example to kids, helping them find purpose and move closer to their goals without feeling pressured. Here are some teachable moments, according to renowned performance psychologists.
Shifting the Perspective
Bill Beswick, the author of the book Changing Your Story – 20 Life Lessons Drawn From Elite Sport, believes that a good attitude has a lot to do with success. Setbacks will occur, but blaming a situation is a waste of time and energy. He recommends applying rationale to a problem and thinking about “What can I do about this?”
Karen Cogan, another sports psychologist, proposes the “What If” exercise. How would you manage your stress levels if a security threat delays the competition? How would you handle the pressure in case of a medal contention? Breathing techniques and mindfulness training can also help navigate distractions.
Cultivating Discipline & Resilience
Norwegian Research Fellow Gro Jordalen studied athletes aged 16-20 years and found two things. They need the discipline to stay motivated in the short term. In the long term, self-motivation makes it easier to remain disciplined.
Sanjana Kiran, who works with Olympics-bound athletes in India, advises finding contentment in being honest with your craft. She suggests giving your best and improving upon your previous effort. After all, reflecting, self-regulating, and building the mental fortitude to adapt is part of what makes you a champion.
In the end, winning is not about achieving perfection but pursuing excellence, which is a day-to-day process.
[Sources: Friday Magazine, American Psychological Association, Partner Science Norway, KhelNow]