How To Use Awareness To Channel Performance Anxiety In Jiu-Jitsu

Image Source: Pedro Figueras via Pixabay

As athletes and people, we face anxiety every day. At its core, it is the same thing regardless of circumstance: fear permeating the body and mind. A feeling of unease that things are not okay. That the scenario in our life is something that threatens our survival. Thinking that there are things outside of us that are there to hurt or harm us.

The Power of Anxiety

It’s actually quite a powerful emotion as long as we can develop this awareness and then use care and proper judgement to use it constructively.

We are hardwired physiologically when we have anxiety for a match, training, or starting a new training protocol, whatever, to react in one of three ways: Fight, flight, or freeze.

Sympathetic Nervous System

When fear strikes our bodies, it activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is built upon those 3 reactions. It also floods the body with stress chemicals that don’t allow for growth, repair, or creation. Our body is consumed with survival even if we’re just sitting in traffic or watching an action flick.

Our Game Plan For Stress and Anxiety

Have an awareness of anxiety. Observe it. Watch it. See how it makes your body and mind feel, but keep a sense of detachment. This is meditation in a nutshell.

Explain to yourself the breakdown of the anxiety cycle: that your body is experiencing fear and that fear begets more fear, creating a cycle that feeds on itself again and again and continues on.

This awareness is the first step to freeing yourself from the clutches of anxiety clutches and moving on to using it constructively.

Final Considerations

Using this logical approach we may not defeat anxiety, but we can develop a stronger relationship with it. Having that awareness is everything in freeing us from its crippling and fear-inducing clutches.

I cover more performance training tidbits with my ebook “The Foundations of Movement Autonomy, Vitality, and Performance” that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!

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Billy Edelen has a B.A in Exercise Science from Bellarmine University and garnered his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) credential in September 2016. He has been a competitive athlete since he could literally ride a bike. Billy won multiple BMX national titles in his youth and played on Bellarmine’s Division 2 2015 Final Four basketball team. You could say he has competitiveness in his blood! He recently finished first in an IBJJF tournament, had his first pro tournament in March, has won his last two regional tournaments, and recently won his last super match in the UGI. He recently made his first appearance in ADCC East Coast Trials. Billy developed his Mobillity lifestyle out of necessity to harness his anxiety and a low back issue. He has constructively and creatively made these strengths to help others live in balanced health (mind, body, and spirit).


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