5 Steps Toward Overcoming Anxiety

5 Steps Toward Overcoming Anxiety (During Shleter-in-Place)

Hello everybody.  I am Coach Rebecca Smith, a high-performance coach specializing in helping athletes ages 8-18 increase performance my maximizing enjoyment, confidence, and self-trust.  I’m also the founder of the PerformHappy Community where I coach people one-on-one through courses and forums.

Currently, our country is under quarantine due to the Corona Virus.  This means you aren’t going to school, you’re not going to practice, you’re not getting to compete, and this is causing a lot of you to feel a loss of motivation, new levels of anxiety, fear of losing skills, and much more.

If you’re not already, please follow us on Instagram – @complete_performance.  We are sharing weekly affirmations, challenges, and also doing check-ins with our followers.

Today, I want to share with you five steps toward overcoming those fears and anxieties and help you rebuild your confidence so you’re prepared when you return to your sport.

1. Worst Case Scenario

The first thing I do when I start working with athletes is I ask them, “Ok, what’s the worst-case scenario?  What’s the worst thing that could happen?”  For a lot of you, worst-case scenario right now might be missing your opportunities to compete.  You’ve practiced and worked hard all season and now you’re thinking, “What for?”  For others, your worst-case scenario might be loss of skills.  You finally got that round off back handspring and now you have nowhere to practice it.

Those are just a few examples of worst-case examples.  I want you to identify your worst-case scenario – write it down, and then I want you to talk it out.

2. Talk It Out

Typically, kids who experience anxiety in a lot of areas of their lives are very smart and very aware.  Once you’ve written down your worst-case scenario, you might be worried about talking to a parent about it, but it’s important.  They are worried about you and want to know what you’re feeling.

As a parent, it’s important to talk to your athlete and remind them, “No matter what happens, we still love you.  Even if you don’t compete again, even if you have to re-learn a skill, don’t worry about it.  We’ve got you.”  Talk your athlete through their worst-case scenario, and then help them devise a plan for how to overcome it, because the scariest thing is feeling like you don’t have the resources necessary to deal with a situation.

3. Have A Plan

If you have a plan, you can say to yourself, “Well, this sucks.  I don’t like that I can’t go to practice.  I don’t like that I can’t condition with my friends.  I don’t like that I can’t do my skills… but here’s what I can do about it.”  If your worst-case scenario is that you can’t practice a skill and you’re worried you will lose it, what could your plan be?

Ex: “I am going to keep conditioning and I’m going to use imagery.  Every time I attempt a skill in my mind, I will be able to do it.” If you see yourself doing the skill over and over again, that will help build your confidence.

Studies have shown that when you’re doing imagery well and correctly, you have the firing in your brain and in your muscles that would happen if you were really doing this skill.  Imagery is a very powerful tool to use when you’re not able to be in practice.  Click here for instructions on how to start an imagery practice.

If you are worried about losing a skill, if you can do so safely, you can keep practicing that skill.  You may not have the gym, but maybe you have a trampoline or a mat.  If you’re comfortable practicing at home, that’s a great way to keep up on your skills

For those of you who get motivation from being around teammates, there are still ways to connect.  I know a lot of athletes are still able to condition together using Zoom or other multi-person video chats.  Get ready like you would for practice, head into your living or backyard or wherever you’ve been conditioning, turn on your computer, and treat it like any other practice.

4. Let Yourself Feel

If you’re anxious, nervous, or worried, make peace with your feelings.  This means giving yourself permission to feel, even if it’s inconvenient, because there’s never a convenient time to be having those feelings.  Just let those feelings be there and stop resisting.  A lot of anxiety is the resistance to anxiety, so when you stop resisting, you can accept it and not have to fight it anymore.

We are all living in uncertain times where we aren’t sure when things are going to go back to normal.  Live in these moments of uncertainty, fear, nerves, whatever you’re feeling, and know that it’s ok to have those feelings and you’re not alone.

5. Gather Your Confidence

Now is the time to be a super version of yourself – the version of yourself who is the best version, who is not scared or worried.  Put on your confidence hat and use positive self-talk.  You are going to be ok.

Instead of looking at the big picture and trying to see into the future, go moment by moment.  Do what you can right now, what’s right in front of you.

Ex: “Right now, I can condition.  I can put on my leotard, pull my hair back, go into my living room, and do my conditioning.”  

“Right now, I can do my homework.  I can do online learning.  I can study for an hour.  I can still be a student.”

“Right now, I can connect.  I can talk to my coach about goals.  I can reach out to teammates and see how they’re doing.  I can be with my family.”

Find the things you can do and do them the best you can.  Hopefully you will take these tools and use what works for you to bring you confidence and hope for your return to sport.

Remember, we’re all in this together.  Again, please follow us on Instagram for support, and if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at rebecca@performhappy.com.

Stay well, everyone.

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.