Many of you played sports at one level or another during the course of your life. Hopefully at some point you experienced being “in the zone”, that feeling of playing completely fluidly and stress free. It is a state that can be achieved with practice and confidence.
The flip side of feeling in the zone is to be playing out of control, where stress builds and there is a distinct lack of control. Both situations are caused by stress, or rather the ability to regulate it. Everyone who’s ever played sports has gone through some kind of pre-game ritual. Putting on a uniform of any kind is not really different. We listen to certain music, go through certain movements, get ourselves ready to do a job. This process is about generating stress. Good stress amps us up and gets us ready for action. Bad stress is when we’ve lost control and have become too excited, for better or worse. Our blood pressure, heart rate, focus, reaction time and all sorts of of physiological responses are out of control. Want to know how to fix it?
Take a deep breath.
That’s it. Simply re-regulating your breathing has a profound effect on returning all those responses back to tolerable levels. When we’re under stress, whether from mental anxiety or as a reaction to physical activity, we tend to hyperventilate. This causes a fight or flight response of increasing adrenaline in the body. Adrenaline can have a detrimental effect on any movement requiring skill, focus or reflex (ie. shooting and fighting). Self-hypnosis and mental practice can also help trigger this relaxation response with practice and control.
Jaime Gamache M.Ed., CSCS, is Owner and Head Strength Coach of The Way Human Performance Institute and here on Facebook. Any questions or requests for future topics, please email firstname.lastname@example.org