Thursday, March 21, 2013

Redpoint Anxiety: What stresses you out? (II)

Versión en español

Continuing from the previous entry, here there are some additional sources of stress:

 How imminent the event is
 As the challenging situation draws closer, anxiety tends to increase.

Reinterpretation proposal
I usually "procrastinate" the moment of heightened stress, because, what do I have to gain from getting too nervous too early?
So when I get up I think "well, I'll wait until I'm at the crag to see how I feel", and then, when I'm before the route I say "wait 'til you are at the big jug before the crux"; when I get there, "let's just climb, nail the moves as you have done in the past, A muerte!". It's a nice example of self-deception, isn't it?

Importance of the event/outcome
The more importance we assign to a route, style (onsight or worked), a crag, a grade or a competition... the more likely we are to be stressed out.

Fear/worry about failure
Any situation that feels like a test can be stressing if we think we can fail. And I'm referring to whatever situations where we interpret as failure any kind of error like falling, bad technique, or missing some piece of information.

Reinterpretation proposal
when facing these sources for stress, I realise that we attribute too much of a "tragic" meaning to failure and error, when we should see them as a tool for improvement. We have to think that errors are a way to better ourselves once we start working to remediate them.
Something that works for me is to realize that whatever route I'm facing, it's just climbing. This route, as every route, consists of a series of moves and is just one more along my career as a climber. I won't be a better climber if I send it, nor a worse one if I fall.
What shapes me as a climber is the succession of day after day of climbing and training. One route, one grade, one try are of little importance on their own. It's the process that counts. What if I fall? What if I err? It's not possible to go forward without failing, nobody is safe from committing errors!

Just climb, climb and think about the holds, the sequence of moves, that climb, that precise moment and... we'll see. Focus on every little goal, every section, and not so much on the top, on the black or white answers, on doing the route...
Who knows? perhaps this way, step by little step, we will make it to the top.

Once again, you can see that I tend to focus on the present and the actionI'm performing: to climb.

Spectators/Peer scrutiny
Some people get anxious because of the people who are watching them climb. Others only get nervous if among their public there are people they care about. Deep inside, they worry about not being up to the expectations the others -alledgedly- have about them. They fear a negative evaluation, and even loosing their affection, admiration or aprobation just because of the outcome of their performance. They are confusing "Being" with "Doing".

Proposal for reinterpretation
"I climb for myself, not to prove anything to the world or show my superiority. I do it because it's fun and I love it... because no matter what happens when I climb and outdo myself, it fulfills me". And if I struggle and try hard routes it's because it makes me happy to get better at what I do. I'm not held responsible before anyone.

Besides, people like me for what I am, not for what I sent today or who I won against. My self-esteem and my happiness come from inside me, not from praise or approval. Climb and be oblivious!

 Perception of competence or excessive self-evaluation
If we have doubts about our fitness or we deem it insufficient to what would be needed for linking the route; if, by the contrary, we are training so well and feel so strong that we feel obliged to succeed; or if we insist on checking at every moment if we are more or less tired than the last try, we can get stressed.

Reinterpretation proposal
Once again, my strategy is to think about the present. We can't do anything to improve our physical state, and the constant self-assessment will make us distracted and anxious, so I focus on what I'm climbing at this moment. I know that in the past I have climbed hard routes on days I felt tired or undertrained; and I have failed on days I felt strong. So I say to myself "well, you never know until you try. Go for it!". We may surprise ourseves in a good way. Also, climbing is not about your forearms only. Don't overrate physical fitness. Sometimes it's the heat or the mind what impairs us, or getting a sequence wrong, or missing a hold... This has already happened to you, hasn't it?
Eva López, Nuria, 8c. Cuenca (Spain). Photo: José Yáñez

These are my suggestions and some personal tricks, but you can share yours, and perhaps this way we can collect a good repertory of "weapons" against those pesky nerves.

So tell us: What is your favorite phrase to minimise your anxiety? What are your tricks?

In the following, we will talk about coping strategies