Turning Anxiety Into Your Friend

(This is the second in a continuing series of wellness articles explaining the power of the mind and how it can empower our lives, athletic performance and relationships.)

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words.

Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions.

Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits.

Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values.

Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

By Terry Carter

Have you ever noticed how a moment of fear or dread can paralyze your ability to prepare and achieve for an upcoming test, game or major event in life?

Humans can earn multiple degrees and become experts in a subject. However in a moment of panic, that educated excellence just vanishes sometimes, and we may struggle on a test. This is an example of how a major event like a big game or a test can sabotage months of preparation through stress that activates are primal fight-or-flight system.

Various types of anxieties freeze our bodies, sometimes stealing our brilliant answers. Other times anxiety is chronic and builds over time to fatigue, headaches and other physical symptoms, perhaps including burnout. Trying to reach a high standard set for you is also a common situation that can ignite anxiety in students, athletes and adults.

We all get nervous, anxious or scared. How we respond to it is often initially instinctive, but we can choose how this affects us after that instinctive flinch. Yes, you can take control of or lower anxiety levels with several proven techniques mentioned here. Some you may know and use. Others may surprise you.

  • BE AWARE, THEN TAKE ACTION: Anxiety and stress harm you from the moment you allow them into your world. You are forming a self-sabotage pact with emotional pain. To prevent dealing with this diabolical dog, take the advice of Bruce Lee, one of the 20th century’s greatest achievers as an athlete, actor, author and philosopher. Bruce recommended one path to learn and overcome several of life’s challenges: Take Action. The fear of attempting something new or challenging chase people away, even though they are capable of doing well. By taking action now, you don’t allow fear, doubt or worry to grow into anxiety.
  • RE-LABEL YOUR ISSUE: Anxiety creates the same emotional response in the body as excitement. So when you feel anxious or stressed, call it excitement and use the extra energy as a favorable gift. Riding a horse may scare some people, but if you look forward to the adventure, two great blessings happen for you: First the horse will sense your authentic joy and excitement and be more receptive toward you. Second you will look forward to meeting your new friend, the horse, because you are carrying elevated emotions including care, compassion and gratitude that are love-based and powerful.
  • MINDFULNESS: Much anxiety arrives from worry about upcoming events or past events recurring, such as losing again to a rival team. Mindfulness is a simple technique and can be taught to elementary school students with success. Mindfulness is simply taking a deep breath and focusing your attention on the present moment, not the past, nor the future.
  • KNOW YOU ARE ENOUGH: Whatever you face, realize the challenge, the nerves are there just to say “this is a big moment — seize the day.” Know that you are enough to conquer this current challenge and many more. If you have 3 days or more to prepare, add this bold statement to your wallpaper/lock screen on all of your phones, tablets, PCs: I Am Enough   Repeat that statement all day, every day as you study, practice, rehearse so your mind hears those words. And I Am Enough becomes associated in your mind with knowledge, advantage and winning.
  • BE AUTHENTIC: A final tip from Bruce Lee that simplifies the process: “If you look within yourself and are sure that you have done right (with integrity), what do you have to fear or worry about?” Clear your mind and simply follow the brilliant recommend in the best-selling book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Recommendation #4: Always do your best. And realize that your best will vary from day-to-day with tomorrow may not be as good as today’s best work. That’s ok because we all have variety in us due to colds, twisted ankles, sore muscles, headaches, distractions. Just focus and do your best at the time you start your project/test/game.

Note: Enjoy this overview on defeating various types of anxiety and/or stress. Specific proven strategies for testing and pre-game championship form are available. You can reach me at udtherapy@gmail.com or visit our website at worldwellnesstoday.com

Next time, we’ll discuss a few of the most famous Hall-of-Fame athletes who rely on mindset, visualization and hypnosis to reach the pinnacle of their sports. The list will amaze sports fans.