Use your 5 Senses To Snap Back Into The Game
Have you ever been in a game where you could only think about the shot you just missed or the strikeout you just had. Maybe you had a college coach in the stands and all you can think about is what they think of you. Your nerves or thoughts get all scrambled and your everywhere but in the moment.
So, how can you snap back into the moment, back into your body and back into what you can control? We can regain some control, find calmness and relieve anxiety just by using our senses.
Playing with or touching something like a ball or play dough can help the nervous system find a sense of calmness. As we know skin is the largest organ, and the calming stimulus registers quickly and appropriately upon contact. So, in the moment of feeling out of control finding something in your environment to touch and really feel can be helpful. Try twisting a ball in your hands and being present with just how it feels. Pointing out those sensations as you feel it.
There are things we see that increase anxiety and things that decrease it, but in the middle of a game, it might be hard to not look at a coach or the cause of our nervousness. What we can do is take a few seconds to choose to look at something more calming or distracting while we try to regroup ourselves. Take a look at the stitching on the baseball, count the light poles in the outfield. We can also imagine something we love to look at that brings you some peace.
You probably use this one before games to pump you up. Hearing is one of the most popular in terms of athletes to get them focused but how can we use this in the middle of the game? Especially when there are tons of stress-inducing sounds going on at once. If you cant listen to music and hearing your best friend or coach talk to you isn’t helping I want you to try hearing your breath. Take 4 deep breaths only concentrating on the sound of the inhale and the sound of the exhale.
Our smell is powerful! We can remember smells, smells from our childhood, perfumes an old crush wore. Smells can also trigger relaxation like using essential oils. They make chap-stick like tubes just for smelling that can help in relaxing you. You can try putting that in your pocket or pick out smells in the air. Some may not be pleasant so let’s not focus on those. If you’re an athlete you know you’ve smelled popcorn in the air. Take a few seconds to take it in, what popcorn tastes like, how close or far, faint or strong the smell is. Just a few seconds of distraction by popcorn might be the trick to get you to a state where you can regain some composure.
Taste is tough one during games but if you are like I was I had gum, seeds, Gatorade and occasionally had my mom run to the concession stand. Try to think of your favorite flavor or chewing gum that is peppermint or spearmint flavor. By recognizing the tastes that help with anxiety, the mind should become conditioned to react with the anxiety-relieving symptoms. You can even say every time I feel nervous or can’t get my head in the game I am going to chew my special gum or sip on my power drink. Silly but don’t knock it till you try it.
You can even combine senses like touching your chest, hearing your breath, and seeing your body move in and out. After that add a positive thought and you are on your way to taking back control, calming your nerves, and crushing your goals.
Using your senses takes some practice and some focus. Keep at it and hopefully the results will be worth it!-Cort