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Arousal, Stress and Anxiety

Posted Sep 20 2010 7:19pm

Arousal, Stress or Anxiety what is it, and how does it effect you?

Arousal, Stress and Anxiety are all factors or stimulations that effect athletes in many different ways; such as mental performance, or physical performance. These stimulations can be negative or positive and can be morphed for the better good in some situations.

One example of the stimulations that effect performance positively is Anxiety and the perception of control. Anxiety can cause stress and over stimulation, or it can be used to encourage. A subject can be taught to use anxiety as a productive resource. It can be used as inspiration, or pleasant self-motivation. Anxiety needs to be looked at from a different point of view. It’s not debilitative, it’s facilitative! Changing the way one views this could lead to optimal performance. An athlete that is seeing anxiety as unpleasant may do more poorly than one that is using it as excitement. This gives the athlete the perception of control over their emotions.

An example of a negatively effecting stimulation is over arousal, but it is manageable. Arousal typically leads to a heightened activity level, however it can also cause over arousal. When one becomes over aroused, stress sets in. This can negatively affect a subject’s ability to perform.  It can cause sloppy play, overly tense actions, tunnel vision, and many more reactions. To regulate arousal one needs to understand the subject’s personality and what they are effected by. Someone with a higher anxiety level will be more easily aroused and only needs a slight push in motivation, too much will cause them stress. While someone with a lower level may need a pep talk to get them to an positively excited level.

While the stimulations we feel as humans can typically be related to a negative or positive reaction, they can also be tailored, reversed, and/or ‘relearned’ to enhance our abilities to cope and react.

So what can you do about it?

  1. Accept that you are anxious or stressed. When you feel it coming on, don’t turn to flight mode, accept that it’s happening. You are stressed.
  2. Ask yourself why you are stressed. What is the reason for this feeling? Was it a bad past experience? Is it overwhelming?
  3. Take responsibility and counteract the reason behind your stress or anxiety! Counteract these feelings with self encouragement and optimism! You can do it! It is achievable! It’s in your grasp! Don’t think the negative debilitating thoughts. It does you no good to stew on how you can’t or didn’t do something. Don’t say can’t or won’t. Try it! If you don’t succeed, you’re one step closer at least, right?

-This post in part is taken from an essay written by Sushicookie for her Exercise Psychology course.

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