The physiological response to a high-pressure moment is actually telling us we are ready to perform. But because we aren’t used to the sensations and changes our body produces, we often view what is happening as negative and something that needs to be suppressed. This makes us pay attention to the stress rather than to our performance. So we naturally tell ourselves to be calm, even though we know that is not what our body is experiencing.
By telling ourselves to relax and stay calm when our body is experiencing the opposite sensations, we send a loud message to our brains that everything has gone haywire. This attempt to suppress what is happening actually makes matters worse. When we try to repress our feelings, our bodies overreact and flood our system with negative hormones.
We can’t control the body’s initial response to a high-pressure moment, but we can control how we think about it and turn it into something positive. Welcoming nervousness is a better strategy than trying to contain it. Feeling excited is superior to feeling nervous.
So what should we tell ourselves when our body begins to experience the symptoms of stress in a high-pressure moment?
Tell your brain to get excited! Excitement produces endorphins, which give us a rush of positive emotions. Our awareness is heightened and glucose is released into the body, giving us more energy. Our pupils dilate and we see things in sharper focus. Our reaction time and reflexes increase. Good things happen when we listen to our body telling us to harness the energy and use it to perform.
The way we talk about our feelings has a strong influence on how we feel. You are excited for a reason and your body knows it. Make your brain know it. Using the inner voice to repeat “I’m excited!” actually increases the authentic feelings of excitement.
When we reframe stress from negative to positive, we perform at our best. Are you excited to try it?
I love this reframing of feelings, I have learned this trait from being prior military and from being in the fire service. I attempt to teach this reframing ability to my rugby players as well. Thank you for this quick read.