I didn’t want to go and the anxiety was taking over. Ten years since high school and I agreed to play in an alumni basketball game. I haven’t really touched a basketball in ten years. I didn’t know who was going to be there, and I thought it might be awkward. I didn’t want to get hurt either because… well for many reasons, but mostly yoga of course.
I was battling thoughts left and right and the fear was taking over. The thoughts of not good enough… the thoughts of not perfect enough and never was good enough were running constant. I pictured missing shots and turnovers and people laughing. The nervous feelings that I used to get before games were all back… along with having to use the restroom a lot and shaky hands. I could think of all these reasons not to go.
I knew if I didn’t go I would regret it though. I had to open myself up to new experiences and keep pushing the comfort zone to stay mentally healthy. I knew that I had to feel the fear and do it anyway, and I tried to take steps to set myself up to go and have a good time. These are all based on personal experiences.
1. Sign Up – The first step I do is sign up for the event I want to go to or make a commitment to someone by saying that I will be there. If I do this, then I feel obligated to go even when the nerves set in.
2. Do Yoga – I went to hot yoga to try to calm the nerves. My intention was to let go of some of the expectations I was placing on myself to be perfect and release some of the tension. It helped a little, but I was still kind of nervous. I wish I would have known more about yoga when I was in high school. I really think it would have helped me a lot before games, and I think it could help so many athletes.
3. Act Excited- I remembered talking to my therapist about what we can do when we are nervous, and she talked about acting excited instead since nervousness and excitement are both very similar. So I gave myself some little pep talks and reminded myself it is for fun and to have fun. I love basketball, being part of a team, competition, and great memories. Get excited!
4. Be Prepared- I planned what I would wear and put it on early. I also got my stuff ready early in the morning. I put my bag together to make it harder for me to say no. I would be all ready when it came time to leave.
5. Breathe- When I started to feel like I shouldn’t go, I took long, deep mindful breathes and reminded myself it would be alright. Don’t underestimate the power of your breath.
6. What’s the Worst?- I asked myself what are the worst things that could happen, and I gave myself some permission to sit with those nervous, anxious feelings without guilt. I decided some of my fears were irrational, and I could live with the worst of what could happen.
7. Picture Success- After I asked myself the worst, then I tried to picture what could go right instead. For instance, I pictured making shots and dribbling and passing successfully. I pictured enjoying the competitiveness and being part of a team again.
I did have fun except for the running out of breath thing. I played very similar to how I played in high school… which was focusing on defense. I was glad that I got to see, talk to, and play with past players too. I was happy that I went! I have discovered I always end up happy when I wanted to retreat, but go anyway. Overcoming those fears feels so good, and is another great reason to go!
These tips have been helpful for me for several events that I have felt nervous about, and I hope they give you some ideas.