For a lot of my clients there is often a big event coming up that is causing them anxiety. In some cases it's doing a public talk, in others it might be getting on a plane.
Big events come in all shapes and sizes and are unique to the person who will be experiencing it.
This blog is a great one for me to do today as I am preparing to take part in the Virtual London Marathon on the 4th October 2020, at time of writing that is just a couple of days away...
When I work with a client with a big event coming up or even work on myself in the run up to something big, we work on a wide range of anxiety issues and confidence building techniques.
Some of these take a little time to master but I thought it was worth sharing some of the best tips so that you can have a go yourself.
I see this a lot and it can be very frustrating, clients have to give a talk next week and they want to know if I can help.
The simple answer is yes, but not nearly as much as if they had been in contact six weeks ago.
Anxiety can be a really big part of procrastination and I fully understand how avoiding thinking about a big event can seem like an easier option. It probably is to be fair, we all have a tendency to avoid the things we find difficult BUT it wont help you do well.
If you are in the position of having left it too late then just focus on what you can do in that time and use the following suggestions.
We all have strengths and weaknesses and when we are heading towards a stressful or anxious situation it can be very easy to focus on our negatives.
For example if you are doing a talk to an audience, possibly online at the moment, then you need to focus on the aspects of your presenting that you consider to be good. You don't have to be a great presenter for this, you can focus on your desire to educate or your ability to explain information or whatever aspect of your presentation you consider to be awesome.
By focusing on your strengths you are making yourself more aware of the things that you can do to help you in that situation. When it comes to examples like my marathon, one of my strengths for example is the ability to keep going even when I feel like I have run out of energy.
Focusing on this strength is much more helpful than thinking about how slow I am and gives me something to fall back on.
Some people find this easier than others but it is a very helpful technique. All you need to do is give yourself 10mins in a quiet private space and get comfy. Use your breathing to get you feeling relaxed and focused, just for the first few minutes. When you are feeling relaxed allow yourself to start to imagine the event in your mind. Think about what you can see, hear, touch, feel, taste.
Make sure that you are imagining the event in a positive or relaxed way, if you find negative thoughts pop into your head, just calmly bring your attention back to the positives.
For things like a talk, allow yourself to imagine the audience looking interested, for example, or imagine how you will act on stage that will demonstrate how calm and relaxed you are.
If you are preparing for a marathon then imagine how you will feel when you reach the finish line (this is a big one for me, I use this when I'm running as well). If you are scared of flying then visualise the place that you are going to and how beautiful and relaxing the scenery will be.
Basically just allow yourself to find the positives in the situation and really imagine them as if they are happening right now.
Often people do this without realising, clients sometimes say things like "I can see it all going wrong".
It happens to me too sometimes, if I am not in a great headspace and I think about the marathon, I can see things going wrong like injuries or not being able to push through.
It is really important to catch these negative visaulisations and if you are in a space where you can take 10mins, then that is a good time to practice a positive visualisation instead.
It doesn't matter what you call it but create a statement that will help you through. Some people go for simple ones like "I've got this" or you can go for a more complicated "I can feel anxious but still succeed and be the person I want to be".
Choose something that works for you.
I like to use a couple of simple ones for my marathon: "Just keep moving" and "You've already done amazing to get this far".
Pick something that works for you, resonates with you and is going to help you.
This is the opposite of your positive statement and for me can occasionally be things like "there's no way I can run a marathon" and "this is going to be hard".
These types of thoughts are really unhelpful and really undermine your performance when it comes to the event itself.
Just like with the negative visualisation, make sure you catch these thoughts and use it as an opportunity to practice the positive thoughts instead.
Feel free to get in touch with me or find someone local to yourself that can help you work on the tools you need to do well at whatever event you have coming up.
The way we think has a huge impact on our mental health. If you are looking to overcome your anxiety or just improve your mental health then first you need to know what thoughts are making things worse.
This download gives you a list of the most common ways we think negatively. All you need to do is see which ones you do most.
Also, keep an eye on your emails! I will be sending you a really useful video that goes with this exercise.