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October 7

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Cope with Stress – 4 Steps to a Healthy Mindset | Think Like an Athlete

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Modern life is busy, hectic and can feel overwhelming. Learning to cope with stress can set us up for a healthy and productive life. Below, we'll look at some ways professional sports stars and athletes manage their mindset. Tap into some sports psychology and use it to your advantage in everyday life.

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Athletes have to cop a fair lot on their journey to the top. All through their careers, they focus on what they need to improve. They might know they need to be faster, or improve their technique or get stronger. Often, they'll have a clear plan in mind and specific actions to take to get better. Similarly, their mental game needs to be strong. Athletes need to be mentally tough.

Do they have similar plans though for improving their mental toughness? How can they specifically work to achieve a stronger mindset?

I'm sure you're already aware of cases in the sporting world of athletes overcoming adversity to win big.

There are countless tales.

Below, we'll look at four ways we can harness the same power used by top athletes in our day to day lives.

We may not be striving for Olympic gold, but we all like to perform well. At work, in the gym, on the sports field - it's all the same.

When our mind is tough and strong, so is our performance.

Know how to cope with stress

Stress seems impossible to avoid. Almost every person, athlete or recreational weekend warrior, can relate to stress interfering with their chosen sport.

In sporting history, some of the greatest achievements of all time have come amidst turbulent and stressful times for the athletes.

No matter our chosen activity or daily routine, stress seems unavoidable.

Is it worth then reflecting on the fact that stress might not be worth battling?

Stress, in itself, doesn't necessarily cause poor performance. In some cases, it may even help produce the best results.

Why battle it?

Why waste energy trying to remove the stress and eliminate any uncomfortable feelings? It seems inevitable that these stressful feelings will manifest themselves at some point down the line anyway.

The best athletes seem to have mastered the art of embracing stress.

They have coping mechanisms and strategies to divert the stress into their performance.

We can all learn these tactics for dealing with stress.

Know that, at some point, stress is going to come. Feel confident in the fact that you'll deal with it. You know you can focus on what you have to do.

When it comes to performance, whether in the gym or on the sports field, have a routine. A pre-game ritual that sets you in the right frame of mind to go and do your thing.

Believing in yourself and having a confident mindset will help you cope with stress more easily

Figure out how to believe in your abilities

Let's try something.

For the next 30 days, I want you to focus on all your failures in life.

Yup, that's right. Everything that's ever gone wrong, think exclusively about that.

Relive the most embarrassing situations. Visualise the disasters that left you worn, weary and unable to sleep.

You probably wouldn't last the month, would you?

I think we can all agree, even after just a week of thinking like this, your self-confidence would be low.

So then, if we can weaken our self-belief and confidence just with thinking poorly and reliving negative experiences, surely the opposite is true?

Yes. Yes, it is.

We can strengthen our confidence, our self-belief, our stoic attitude with positive affirmations and imagery.

Deliberately, fill your head with the right sorts of memories. The good times. What you achieved. Those times where you performed well.

Mentally relive and rehearse these thoughts, especially in the moments before you're due to perform.

Strengthen your thoughts and strengthen your whole being.

Possess a commitment to improving, even when you don't feel like it

It's a natural feeling to be more committed to a goal when things are going well. When things go according to plan, even our personal relationships tend to be at their most healthy.

Conversely, when our performance starts to drop, our commitment to our goals starts to wane too. When fatigue, injury or illness sets in. Or our perceived results decrease, we often feel less committed to keeping going.

Having a strong, athlete-like mindset means we promise (to ourselves) that we keep going. We will continue to do the right things. We will strive for progress, even if other desires and distractions creep in.

Embrace the difficult times and love the tough stuff

Fuel your drive from the challenge. Athletes embrace challenges.

Develop a healthy athlete mindset by knowing that tough situations don't last forever

Overcoming tough, challenging and difficult tasks fuels personal growth and learning.

Whether it's difficult fitness routines, tough training circuits or facing an intimidating challenge. Challenges force us to stretch ourselves.

Challenges stretch our perceptions. They encourage us to reach further, produce more effort and become more determined.

Ultimately when we are challenged, we often display our best performances.

Feeling inspired and ready to read more on how to cope with stress?

Check out this other article on developing a healthy mindset.

Be sure to let me know in the comments below which tactic you're going to employ first. How are you going to use it in your life to improve?

About the author

Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs. He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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