Do These Four Simple Things and Your Performance Under Stress Will Soar!
I’ve held this idea close to the vest for many years now, and I’m not sure I can do the process justice with this article, but I thought I’d give it a try.
Throughout my life, I’ve naturally and more recently purposefully relied heavily on a process for warding off the negative effects of stress. Whether it’s a high-level athletic endeavor or a live blade flow drill or anything else, there is a key to focus and performance. The importance of understanding at some level why this performance enhancing process works cannot be understated in my experience.
This critical process goes like this:
- control your breathing, to
- gain control of emotion, to
- focus your mentality, to
- improve performance
I’ve always found that hurried, panicked, or uneven breathing during stress, or worse yet, stopping the breathing process (all of which is natural) is like throwing gasoline on a fire. The effects of stress, left unchecked, will dramatically sub-optimize your breathing which tends to re-enforce the effects of stress – spiking the emotional response in negative ways. But, intent-driven, deeper breathing tends to moderate and settle the emotional response. There’s something very calming about hearing yourself breath in a deep, calm, rhythmic fashion.
A more focused emotional response to stress created through active, intent-driven, deep breathing tends to allow me to focus my mentality specifically for the task at hand. I move from the idea of “what’s going to happen?” to “what is my objective, and what am I going to do to achieve maximum success?” If you’re exerting physically, you’ll need to look for micro “pockets” or “holes” in the physical action to control breathing for short periods of time. The fact that you’re focusing in this way and aware of your breathing is very effective.
Once you have good control of your breathing, your emotions (which are unreliable and powerful), and your mentality, you’ll be in a position to greatly improve performance. To start, practice breathing like you would in yoga class (tongue pulled to the roof of the mouth, in and out your nose with deep breathes that sound like the ocean) or give box breathing a try (both activities will get you started).
…walk in peace