How having a Well-being routine beats Performance Anxiety
I noticed two distinct themes in all of last week’s clients. Each one contacted me regarding improving their performance and, they had all experienced performance anxiety recently.
Among these clients was a young student whom I will call Ava. This bright young lady was in secondary school and had failed a science exam. When I asked what happened in the exam, she explained that she panicked. “I knew the answers, but I couldn’t think straight,” she continued, “Then the more I tried, the more confused I got; eventually, I panicked and could hardly read the questions.” She went on to explain that she has another science test on Wednesday and is overcome with worry and anxiety.
As I composed myself from heartbreak for this young person’s experience, my discernment from being a mum of three teenage girls kicked in. I inquired into her well being routine. Despite her parents’ guidance, she shared that her phone never left her hand. Ava kept the phone by her side while studying, and she also ignored the curfew on device time. She shared how she woke each morning feeling tired and stressed and knew that she needed an earlier bed-time along with a regular bedtime routine. But, like many of us, although my astute teen knew what she was supposed to do, she didn’t do it.
Making the transition from knowing to being can be challenging for many of us. The fear of what we might need to let go of flares into our minds and takes hold of our bodies. It shouts loud, claiming a convincingly necessary place in our lives. Ava’s fear was missing out on relaxation time with her friends, within which she felt a sense of connection and support. However, she also became aware of how late nights on facetime and keeping her phone by her side during study time impacted her well-being and performance. As a result, she realised her need to create boundaries and new habits that form structure and support her well-being. So, we discussed how she could create new habits that allow her to spend quality time with friends while also having effective study, bedtime and sleep routines.
The follow up session…
Yesterday we had a follow-up session. I inquired around the progress of the bright-eyed, smiling young lady on my computer screen. Ava’s presence was filled with a sense of ease as she explained that each evening she handed her phone to her parents at 10.15 pm. Furthermore, during the day, she left the phone in another room while she studied. “It’s amazing how much I got done!” she continued, “The time flew by, and I am even finding maths so much easier. Like, I know the lesson when my teacher is explaining in the classroom!” I inquired about spending time with friends, “Oh yes, it’s fine, we just go on a call earlier, but after I finish my schoolwork.” She went on to explain that she feels good in the morning’s too, less tired and ready for the day.
It was evident that beyond lessons and learning, something much more important was falling into place for Ava: this young adult was coming to know that she has an immeasurable amount of control over the way she feels, thinks and behaves and how this inevitably impacts her performance. In one week, Ava discovered her autonomy and resource to create the space to respond instead of reacting to her current reality. By changing her priorities and focusing on commitment to her well-being, she experienced a significant increase in her productivity, progress and happiness.
Perhaps I am writing this post because I received a text this morning; one of those texts stays with you and, in this case, caused my whole being to burst with joy and pride for this young academic. Here is a screenshot of a text from Ava today.
As stated at the outset, Ava was one of several clients last week who:
- Was a high achiever
- Had experienced performance anxiety
- Evaded their well-being routine
Other clients ranged from Sports Coaches to Senior Managers to professionals underperforming in appraisals.
Anyone who is stepping beyond their comfort zones and upping their game feels a level of anxiety, nerves and stress. However, high achievers know that nurturing our best selves is a long game. It’s a habit, a way of being. It is making that choice one choice at a time, over and over again, to choose your best self. We do this by choosing our well-being over our impulses. By taking care of our bodies, mind and heart and nurturing them with the best we’ve got in that moment, we come to know that within anxious moments of ungrounding self-doubt, we know how to self-regulate and turn those moments around. Furthermore, we are in the best place to do so.
If you would like help discovering where commitment to developing your best can take you, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and gift yourself the discovery of your best self.