Reframing Stress, and Reinterpreting Fear
There are three types of fun. The first kind is like a birthday party where it’s really fun! The second kind is like zip-lining where it’s fun but also scary. And the third kind is just plain scary, but you TELL people it was fun.
My point—and one of the enduring goals of CrossFit Vashon – is that OUR gym is about living a fun life even in the scary moments; that we want our members to go and DO stuff with their fitness. We love having you do the Bill Burby Run, and the Seattle Marathon; Tuff Mudders and Spartan Races; the “bucket list” stuff, like becoming a firefighter and hauling people out of quicksand. We want to get you ready for any of it. Just be aware though, that ‘READY’ does not mean it’s not SCARY. If you’re doing the Passport-2-Pain bike ride in the summer, or climbing Mt. Rainier, the nerves will probably start kicking in right about…..wait……waaaaaaiiiittttt….now.
For me it happens all the time. In competition, before a workout, on top of a steep mountain, or especially during the CrossFit Open. There’s a couple things from past reading that have stuck with me and i’d like to share them. About leaning into stress and embracing fear.
First, understand that your body doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. They feel the same. When you start getting anxious before an event, ask yourself: “Am I actually scared, or am I just excited?”
When we’re kids we’re always excited and we’re used to it. But as adults it’s not a normal state of being. Generally fear is the only thing that increases blood pressure, elevates heart rate and surges the adrenalin. So we think we’re scared and then we fall into a downward spiral when we should really be excited.
Here’s the thing I read that I’ve never forgotten and that I now like to say before workouts in the CrossFit Open. As the clock is about to count down and everybody looks nervous, I like to reframe the stress like this: “It’s like opening Christmas presents!” That reminds me and everyone to be excited! And to not dread the workout because it’s supposed to be fun AND we’ll perform the best if we approach it lightheartedly.
Second: anticipation is worse than the event.
Our fear of what might happen is always blown out of proportion from what actually happens. Our imagination takes over and our minds go to the worst-case scenario, and we stress about it for three days before the event. When the event actually starts, we’re exhausted from replaying the possibilities over and over! We’ve already done the whole event—with every catastrophe included!—78 times!
Waiting, deliberating, overthinking—they’re always worse than doing. How about next time, we do the hard thing when it’s time and we skip all the fearful anticipation. Skip the hard part.
Third, let’s think about perspective: Will you actually remember this in a year?
If not, it’s not worth stressing about.
If you WILL remember the event a year from now, it’s REALLY worth doing.
I once heard someone say: “anxiety is my cardio.” But it’s these moments that you set yourself up for that make you who you are—not the daily rhythm of eating breakfast and shaving. The scary – sorry, “EXCITING” moments become your story, and any story without these moments is boring. Take it from someone who loves a good story, either movie or book: Every time you go through a painful transition, every time you grit out a step up a mountain, every time you stay up all night in fear—they’ll all make a great story. And you know what? that story that will help someone else. In the end, these are the things that matter most. Let’s get after them.
Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.