Performance Anxiety And How It Affects Your Training

There are many forms of anxiety but as a society, we tend to focus on the most common forms. We tackle social anxiety as well as existential anxiety as most people will suffer through these conditions. But these are both conditions that you will only face in certain situations. Public anxiety comes from low self-esteem and believing that you’re worth less than the people around you. Existential anxiety is deep worry about your future and life in general. Performance anxiety is almost exclusive to the exercise and sports worlds. Athletes receive mental coaching to help them overcome this troubling condition but what about the average person? Having this kind of issue will stop your training and achieving the health goals you want to, which can lead to several bad outcomes. 

A past trauma

One line of thinking is that performance anxieties are alarms. They are somehow linked back to a traumatic event from your childhood. Memories from an event when something physically painful or emotional occurred will rise to the surface. Your mind will connect these memories with the events that are happening right now. Our consciousness associates the past with the present and keeps you locked into that traumatic feeling as long as you’re doing the same thing. How on earth do you defend against these ghouls and gremlins from the past?

The key to controlling your performance anxieties is to take the venom out of those memories. It’s not easy, but tackling those memories and who you are as a person now, must be an emotional battle you engage in. Search for who you are and what you want to accomplish. Focussing on the physical task, connecting your mind with your muscles and purely concentrating on technique, movement, speed and breathing will allow you to walk into the present realm. Those past memories will become unrelated and thus not applicable to your efforts in the present moment. Maintain a calm centered mind, distance yourself from the event and calculate your current goals.

Overloading your system

If you have ever been to the gym for a killer workout session, you will have run into what’s called ‘the shakes’. You took your pre-workout supplement or drank a cup of coffee and you’re ready to push your mind and body to the limit. However, when you get to the gym you can’t seem to focus. Your body shakes and trembles and you’re unable to utilize your strength and speed to maintain proper form and technique. You sit on the benches wondering why you can’t focus when you’ve obviously made the effort to get ‘g’d up’. 

The issue here is caffeine. So many pre-workout supplements from creatine to coffee have high levels of caffeine that make things worse. Your heart rate increases, making your chest feel heavy and constricted. Your body gets a tingling sensation as the caffeine and sugar enters your muscles. By overloading your system, you have made it unstable. It’s better to use carbohydrates as your main source of energy. A bowl of oatmeal with honey will give you the carbs and natural sugars you need. A small bowl of pasta, a couple of slices of toast or a quick snack like a burrito will give you the energy you need. 

Don’t focus on goals

Forcing yourself to stick to a workout regime can be harmful to your progress. Nobody feels 100% all of the time so you’re going to have off-days. When you’re not feeling sure about yourself, if you’re injured or not in the mood to push yourself too hard, then don’t. Part of working out consistently is listening to what your body and mind are telling you. Something might have occurred in your personal life that is worrying you and making it difficult to focus. In these types of situations, don’t focus on reps and sets.

It’s important to remember to have fun during your workouts. Rather than focus on stringent goals, enjoyment of the workout is paramount. Perform an exercise which you’ve never done before. Use different machines at the gym. Create a new set and rep regime for the day. Rather than going heavy, go light. If you’re doing cardio, get off the treadmill and use a step machine. Mix it up and make it fun.

Being watched and judged

Men and women both get performance anxiety due to the fear of being watched and judged by onlookers. This is the main reason why so many choose not to go to the gym. The fear of public humiliation, body image and inadequacy are the leading causes of performance anxiety in the average person wanting to go to the gym. It’s not just something you see in humans either, animals such as horses suffer from performance anxiety too. Just like human beings, there have been some recent breakthroughs in treatments such as CBD oil which you can get more information about. Horses can get anxious about big events and situations where a lot of eyes are on them. Horses will be on the alert, hypersensitive to sounds and smells. CBD oil should be put into the animal’s food and or drinking water and you’ll begin to see a marked change in their behavior. 

Human beings can also take CBD oil in the same way. But if you really want a boost of confidence, go to the gym with friends. Find workout buddies using various workout apps that offer to connect with you locals looking for someone like you to go to the gym with. Give each other inspiration and positive comments. Working towards a goal with others really boosts our morale and motivation.

Trying to please others

Young sportsmen and women, often feel pressure from performing due to their overbearing parents. Unfortunately, some parents push their children beyond the limit, hoping that they will be the star of a match or win a competition. When children see the disappointment on their parents’ faces when they don’t succeed, they feel shame and sadness. However, it’s important to note that these parents are almost using their child’s success as their own and this is a form of narcissism. 

Supportive parents will push their child to succeed but note whether they are enjoying the sport or not. Focus on giving your child words of encouragement and tell them how proud of them you are just for participating. Ask them to be competitive but to not push themselves into anything they don’t feel comfortable doing. You can’t force your child to do something just for you. Ask your kid what kind of sport he or she likes. Take them to classes for the sports they enjoy and that will quickly turn them into wanting to perform because they want to achieve in something they love doing.

Your own worst enemy

A lot of people who suffer from performance anxiety will have one thing in common. They constantly talk themselves down in their minds. Negative self-talk is a real issue and it comes from a chronic psychological disorder. It’s a combination of low self-esteem and self-hatred. It’s not just a feeling that you aren’t good enough, but that you don’t deserve to be good enough. You are your own worst enemy when you think like this. The only real way to combat this severe insecurity and inferiority complex is to, conscious go to war with these negative thoughts.

Whatever negative thoughts about yourself pop into your mind, turn them on their heads. Tell yourself you are good enough and you deserve to show how good you are. Whether it’s in sports or exercise, learn to love who you are. Self-respect is such a complex concept. There’s a fine line between believing in yourself and being arrogant. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend. You give your friends encouragement to do better and you want them to succeed. This is how you must start thinking about yourself.

Speak to a therapist

If you are in dire need of help and consistent support, contacting a therapist to set up an appointment is highly advised. Sometimes, we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel ourselves and we have to be shown by someone else. A therapist will get to the heart of your anxiety and bring to the surface events childhood that is still haunting you. A few visits may not be enough, so hiring them as your personal therapist which you can contact at any time of day to get you through an episode is going to edge you closer to living a healthier life. This is especially crucial if you’re thinking about becoming a professional athlete. A sports psychologist is also recommended, so they can nail down cognitive concerns when it comes to your physical performances.

Some of the top athletes in the world have suffered from performance anxiety. Find a workout buddy you can go to the gym with. Support each other by giving encouragement to take on difficult exercises. Pushing yourself physically is not enough, stop negative self-talking yourself and treat yourself like you would a friend.