Pressure and stress are part of life, but we can manage them better with mediation, visualisation, and positive self-talk. Performance coach Todd Astle shares how.

How can we manage our emotions and stop feeling overwhelmed?

More often than not, we are busy, constantly distracted and with our attention fragmented. A tool for becoming mroe aware, increasing clarity and energy is Everyday MVP. In sports, MVP is ‘most valuable player’. In this strategy it which stands for Meditation, Visualisation and Positive self-talk.

Let’s start with meditation. Think of your attention as a muscle. As with any muscle, exercise is a good idea. In this case, the exercise is meditation. Meditating will make your attention stronger.

Meditation is systematically focusing on one thing. The most basic form of meditation is focussing on your breath. Breathing and meditation techniques are powerful yet so simple they are often overlooked.

In stressful situations, focusing on breathing or a basic body scan, can act as a sanctuary to regain a calm focussed mind, the best state for problem solving.

Research has shown a huge range of both mental and physical benefits that include:

  • Reducing anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Improving working memory
  • Regulating emotions
  • Enhancing wellbeing and mood
  • Increasing energy
  • Lowering blood pressure

With regular practice, we become more productive, sleep better, feel happier, less anxious and less stressed.

Everything we are crying out for in our modern fast-paced society.

The second part of MVP is visualisation.

Visualisation is a simple tool to create a strong mental image of a future event. With good use of visualisation, you can prepare for the event or any other pressure moments you may face. By visualising success, you can build the self-confidence you need to perform well.

For example, imagine you have a sales pitch to a big new client next week. You’re nervous already, and you might be worried about answering the client’s questions badly, speaking awkwardly about your past achievements, or forgetting your prepared notes.
We’ve all probably experienced negative thinking like this.

But you could visualise the pitch going well instead. You could picture yourself talking confidently, easily describing all of your past achievements, and nailing your tone and body language. That vision looks a lot better, doesn’t it? Spending time rehearsing your success through visualisation is a healthy and beneficial strategy.

The third part of MVP is positive self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, we all have an inner voice that can build us up or tear us down. Self-talk affects our confidence and emotions which impacts on our performance.

Research suggests that on averge we have 60,000 thoughts a day – and 77% of those thoughts are negative.

The quality of our self-talk affects all we do in life.

Investing time to develop an inner voice that allows us to enjoy life, have confidence and self-belief is crucial to performance and happiness. We can rewire our brains to create new thoughts and habits to help bring about what we DO want rathe rthan what we don’t.

The following MVP exercise ties together meditation, visualisation and positive self-talk. Having done this for years personally and also helping others to implement this into their daily lives, I have seen how it makes a difference when feeling those nerves, doubts, insecurities and stressors that we all feel at various times. It allows us to calm the nervous system, become more connected to the present more intentional with our focus.

  1. Wherever you currently are, bring your focus to your breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth focussing on a longer exhale. You may want to close your eyes. Notice if your mind wanders. Avoid judging yourself or trying to ignore distractions. There is no right or wrong, just awareness and your job is simply to notice that your mind has wandered and bring your attention back to breathing. Back to the ‘now’.
  2. Now visualise yourself performing in a pressure or stressful situation. Maybe you’re giving a presentation, being interviewed, or trying to meet a deadline. See yourself getting ready to deliver and perform. Ready to take confident action to the best of your ability, being fully locked into the now. See what’s around you, sense the audience, hear the sounds. Feel all the feelings that come with being under pressure – the nerves, the doubts, the discomfort. Fully bring yourself into that moment, feel all the energy flowing through your body. Notice how you are fully present, ready to give maximum effort, with a great attitude, completely focused on the task despite any distractions.In this moment you are thinking about what’s important now. You are fully ready to perform and deliver. No matter what happens, you focus on what is in your control and let go of what isn’t. You feel ready, you feel relaxed, and you feel confident.
  3. As you feel this confidence running through you, say to yourself, “I take confident actions in the face of fear and uncertainty. I focus on what is in my control and let everything else go. I am worthy, I am enough, I have great effort, great focus, and a great attitude every time I’m called upon to deliver results.”
  4. Bring your focus back to where you are, back to your breath, to the here and now.

Meditation is about focusing on the present. You can’t change the past, so focus on the present so that you can get your best possible future.

Many people get stuck because they focus on what is out of their control. Or they focus purely on results and lose sight of the things that are in their control. Keep checking in with yourself – what is important now? Pay attention to your attitude, effort, focus and actions.

Use the MVP to focus on the present: mediate, visualise, and use positive self-talk.  Meditation helps you focus. Meditation and visualisation together improve consciousness and self-awareness, and focus our minds. Meditation, visualisation and self-talk together are a powerful tool to create what you want for success.