Contributed by Kurt Young
Mindfulness (or present moment awareness) has become a popular topic in the field of mental health. Mindfulness skills can also be applied to high performance environments for improved physical performance. Below are some tips for applying mindfulness to high performance environments.
Awareness of behavioural patterns under stress
The first step to working on changing maladaptive responses to stress is being aware of behavioural patterns you typically engage in while in pressure situations.
How can you increase your level of awareness?
- Keep a training diary to reflect on your performance using the good, better, how format. For example, ask yourself, “What did I do well, what can I improve on and how can I improve that element?”
- Regularly check in with yourself and consciously pay attention to physical sensations and emotions that arise during performance.
- Practice mindfulness regularly outside of your performance environment to train your brain to automatically become aware of your present moment experience.
- Ask for feedback from trusted others (e.g., coaches and teammates) to help you identify patterns of behaviour under stress.
Use a physical or mental trigger:
When we get caught up with emotions in high performance environments, our attention is shifted away from the task at hand, thereby reducing the mind-body connection. Use keywords to direct your attention to the task at hand.
Keywords are most beneficial when they include the following elements:
- They instruct your brain to engage in a specific action, for example, body weight forward.
- Are brief and easy to recall under stress.
- Have a link to a physical trigger that can act as a reminder, e.g., write key words on your armband.
- Is meaningful to you.
- Is based on awareness of typical behavioural patterns under stress.
Learn to be aware of how you typically behave under stress. Apply strategies to shift your attention onto the present when under pressure and use reminders to trigger your mind and body to engage in helpful actions regardless of your emotional state.
If you would like to know more about how to apply mindfulness to improve your performance, call or email us here.