How did Blue Monday go for you?
Where W = Weather, D = Debt, d = monthly salary, T = time since Christmas, Q = time since failing New Year’s resolutions, M = low motivational levels and Na = the feeling of needing to take action.
And they say that it’s the day when most people book their holidays – which is always a great activity for making you feel better – because, hey – you’re VISUALISING! And this is precisely the kind of methodology which works when I coach athletes around confidence too.
And you know what? It was a grey day here interspersed with a few sunny spells and even a rainbow – and there I was, sitting at the computer booking up flights and trains and hotels and stuff and getting all excited about my next big trip (I’m a bit of a global vagabond/travel-oholic because I LOVE people watching, learning what makes other communities and cultures tick and taking beautiful photos to remind myself on Blue Mondays when I want to visualise a ‘happy place’. And I didn’t even know at the time it was a Blue Monday ‘thing’ to focus on your holidays!
Now as an athlete I know for sure that you work hard and do your best at training and competitions or matches, but sometimes you find yourself in a situation where things beyond your control have made it really challenging – even upsetting – for you.
It may be that you’ve had an injury and have to take time away from your sport while it heals. It may be that you didn’t do as well as you’d have liked in your last match or competition, or try out for a new club or team. Whatever the reason you’re feeling blue, there are TWO BIG THINGS to remember which will get you through:
Tackle your attitude to the problem. Deal with what you have control over.
1. There’s nothing you can do about the things which are beyond your control – but you CAN do something about your attitude to them. You could get upset and stressed – which will bring out all the stress chemicals in your body and won’t do you any favours at all (and will even make your performance worse), or you could think about what you can control.
If injury is the problem – get as much help as you can from those treating you and really do the exercises or take the rest they recommend. They know the biology of it and they know how strong you will be if you do what they tell you. And you can use visualisation too – because the mind doesn’t know the difference between actually doing something and just thinking about doing something – it still sends the same signals to your body and can help with muscle memory while you’re resting up.
Of course you need to use it wisely. Just visualising tidying your bedroom won’t actually get it done (I know, I’ve tried!).
Exercise gratitude to ensure you keep things in perspective.
2. Put the challenge you’re facing into perspective. Make sure you don’t ‘catastrophise’ and build it up to be a disaster of end-of-the-world proportions. Sure you might be off for a month – or even a year – and you might miss some important matches or competitions, but there will be another chance in some way or other.
To avoid catastrophising, I use gratitude. Something I learned from my own mum when she was dealing with some very, very difficult health challenges. And I look around for evidence that my situation is actually much better than many other people. We see plenty of terrible stories on the news these days to make us feel thankful that we have what we do.
So if I catch myself feeling a bit ‘woe-is-me’ I look up at the sky (looking up makes you feel more positive too) and think about all the things I DO have going for me. A home, food on the table, a loving family and the opportunity to participate in the things I enjoy (so – your sport is one example) when I am fit enough to.
And this is where more visualisation comes in – I take myself off to a place which made me happy and remember all those lovely feelings that accompany the memory.
If you’re feeling a bit down because you can’t train at the moment, or because something didn’t go right in your last match or competition, use this Gratitude Journal* to help you start feeling more positive.
*If you already have Competition Ready™ you’ll be familiar with this as one of the bonus motivational exercises.