How To Adopt A Performance Mindset When It Matters Most

As nice as it would be, we are likely not be feeling our best every single day. 

Most likely, there will be a particularly important day when you just feel low energy, under the weather, uninspired…the opposite of what you want to be feeling when you are about to present or do something big. 

As an athlete and professional ballet dancer, it was pretty normal to deal with sub-par feelings before an important performance. Barring any serious illness or injury, there is a lot that can be worked through with some simple performance mindset techniques. 

Here are my favorite, and I hope they serve you well the next time you are getting the jitters, or just don’t feel like yourself:

💪 Physical anchoring

This is a personal favorite of mine. Physical anchoring is a practice many athletes and performers make their own in the moments before they walk on stage or have to perform. It is a mind/body connection exercise that actually starts by grounding yourself and your body in the present moment. Connecting with your body is a fantastic way to gain presence. Connecting your body to your environment, for example by rooting your feet into the floor, feeling the cool air flow or warmth of the sun, is equally as powerful. 

I teach physical anchoring in all of my workshops as a concrete takeaway for my participants to make into their own. Exercises like shoulder rolls, head and neck rolls, deep belly breaths, standing up and stretching your arms out are a few you can easily incorporate into your physical anchoring routine. You don’t have to do anything more complicated, it is a powerful tool to have in your tool belt. 

😮‍💨 Breath work exercise (like the square breath exercise linked below)

The breath! We live by it, and yet we so often forget about it. Half the time, our tension and stress is exacerbated by our shallow breathing and lack of circulation. 

There are many simple breath exercises you can practice throughout the day, and all of them help you regain control over your senses, your present experience, re-energize and they can even help you stop runaway thoughts in critical moments. 

Take a look at the square breath exercise below as one easy-to-execute example. 

🎵Listen to your favorite/most appropriate song

Perhaps even more simple than the above exercises, we know music has been scientifically proven to affect our mood and energy. If you are feeling anxious and frenetic, you can get yourself into a more focused and calm head space with music that has a slower rhythm, melody or beats per minute.

On the other hand, if you are feeling tired and lethargic/cannot get into the right frame of mind, choose a couple of songs that amp you up. 

Music is a powerful tool you can use to your advantage. 

The next time you are feeling ‘off’, however that feels for you, consider trying out some of these tried and true techniques for performance mindset control.

And remember, sometimes, you also just need to take a break. Not everything is worth pushing through.