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Nervous About the CrossFit Open? How to Battle the Butterflies.

The CrossFit Open is a rare and fun opportunity to participate in an annual community event. It’s no different to the WOD you do every day, except that you get to see how everybody else in the world did as well. But this doesn’t stop people freaking out over every WOD. Last week you were happy to just get through Fran without dying, now suddenly that finish time seems much more important. Or maybe all the people cheering and watching is just too much pressure. Whatever the cause, many people who were very comfortable showing up at their box every day have a very different feeling. They feel nauseous, out of breath, sweaty. Maybe even got the 20 nervous pees going. So what to do? How do you manage the butterflies?

1. Embrace it

It’s ok to be nervous. Growth comes from challenging yourself. Be proud that you are doing something challenging enough to make your brain uncomfortable.

2. Mindfulness

It not likely you’ll be able to get rid of the butterflies, but that doesn’t mean you have to get caught up in them. Acknowledge your feelings without engaging in them.

3. Stay positive and only worry about what you have too

Don’t keep going over all the reasons you are nervous. Think about the things that are necessary – do I have everything I need? Do I know what I need to do? But don’t question whether you’re good enough or compare yourself to the person next to you. Focus on what you can do, the things you are good at and your bravery at accepting the challenge.

4. Focus

Remember the reasons you signed up to start with. Think about why you want to be here. Focus on the small, achievable goals you have set for yourself. If you want to move fast set a goal for rest. If you want to lift a heavy weight, have a goal for your technique. Goals are about the process, not the results.

5. Breathe

You knew it had to be in here. If your brain just will not cooperate and focus itself in the direction you want – that’s ok. Just breathe. Focus on controlling your breathing. It will give you something to focus on and settle some of the physiological distress. (Kristen’s cheat: if, like me, your attention span struggles with breathing then sing your favourite song in your head. Don’t just let it play like an earworm, focus on really hearing the music and the lyrics)

6. Visualization

Most important point: This is an essential life skill! It’s one of the most effective tools for success in any aspect of life. Don’t think about all the ways the WOD can go wrong. Don’t picture how tired, or bad you will feel. Visualise success. Visualise strength. Visualise happiness. The things you see in your mind will become reality. Practice this ability whenever you can! (Especially with goals that involve behaviour change – like weight loss or quitting smoking)

7. Make a plan to debrief

At the end of every WOD nearly everybody has things they wished they did better. That’s good. It means you have things to work on for next time. But it’s not enough. You also need to know what you did well. Self-compassion will get you further than self-esteem. Remember to congratulate yourself for everything you did well and for being brave enough to challenge yourself.

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