What if treated all big life events like races?
The day of my dissertation I treated the same way as a competition. From when I woke up to what I ate and even how I viewed exercise, I used the tools I had to manage my nerves from the track and brought them to the boardroom.
Apparently, I am not alone in this. As I recently heard on the Sonya Looney podcast, David Epstein treats his big presentations the same way. He says that there were a lot of lessons he learned to help him manage his nerves, and he too gets nervous before speaking events.
Nerves are normal and natural, in fact, they are also a good weapon to have in your arsenal. Being nervous is good for you? Yes, it demonstrates your emotional investment into your task at hand. Learning from what Kelly McGonigal has to say about stress, channelling that nervous energy into something positive can be really beneficial.
I learned a lot about taming my nerves when I started racing again. As a returning athlete it was not surprising that I was battling those insecurities. Early on my coach said I could either channel my nerves for my benefit or they would get the better or me. Wanting to be a champion I chose the former not the latter.
Some tips that help me when I am nervous for an event – running or otherwise:
– Stick to a routine: From when you get up to eating to getting some physical activity use what works for you.
– Write out a competition plan: Just like in the Believe Training Journal write down your event start time and work back from there. Detail what equipment you might need and how you plan to arrive at your destination with lots of time to spare.
– Write down your biggest fears: Similar to the pink elephant in the room, when you write down what is stressing you out not only does it seem surmountable, but I usually find it was the uncertainty I was more afraid of compared to the fear I have written down.
– Practice self-love and kindness: You have to believe you are prepared, that you belong and that you matter because you do. We are often our own worst enemies; say to yourself what you would say to your best friend in the same position.