Stop your emotions hijacking you
We all feel emotions before, during and after our tasks or challenges and this can impact our performances, by either adding to them or taking away from our abilities. Emotions can be physiological, cognitive or behavioural. It’s hard to describe what an emotion is, but quite simply, they are our feelings in response to triggers in front of you or in the mind.
A physiological emotional reaction could be an increasing heart rate, while cognitive reactions could be changes in your perceptions and behavioural reactions could be decreased assertiveness or increased aggression on the field. Sometimes it’s good to be able to regulate these emotional responses, and we do that by using strategies to keep our emotions on an even keel. By monitoring how you feel and how you react in various situations, you’ll be able to create change if you need to.
For example, some athletes might use relaxation breathing techniques if they feel themselves tensing up. This also has the benefit of regulating their breathing which means they are less likely to feel anxious or stressed. Just like a good army officer, a person adept at emotional regulation will be able to assess various scenarios and situations and know what regulatory response to deploy. Sometimes it’s possible to avoid situations that will cause adverse responses, or failing that, athletes can use diversion tactics like perhaps listen to music to avoid hearing a crowd before a race.
Some tips to enhance your regulatory skills
· Know what emotional states are associated with your best and worst performances and know why.
· Assess the strategies you use and make sure they actually work for you.
· Don’t be afraid to be diverse in your strategies. What works for you may seem crazy to someone else, but if it's keeping you in control just do it!