What to Keep in Mind Before a CrossFit® Competition
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3 Ways to Calm Your Mind and Improve Focus

By: Dawn Fletcher. Dawn is a CrossFit Coach who helps people improve their mental performance and posts regular tips on her site Mentality WOD.

We are 'doing' all day long. Our minds are constantly going and we are always trying to keep up with what's next. The flustered, anxious thoughts can take over if we are not actively combating them. To be your best, you must be able to calm your mind when you begin to feel pressure or stress. Practice implementing relaxing thoughts and controlled breathing with these 3 strategies.

Deep Breathing

It is important to learn how to calm your mind and steady your breathing. No matter what situation or environment you find yourself in, you can always focus on your breathing. This practice can help you become centered, present and prepared for anything. Wherever you are, this strategy is in your toolbox: You just have to learn to use it. Exercise: When you start to feel anxious, count '1, 2, 3? as you inhale (so the breath lasts 3 long seconds) then '1, 2, 3? as you exhale. Each time you breath in and out counts as one rep. Repeat this 5-10 times to center yourself. When you focus on counting and relaxing your breathing, it takes your mind off of the stressful or anxious thoughts you were having.

Meditation

If you want to be able to become calm and centered in pressure situations, like important events or WODs, you'll want to practice in non-pressure situations first. Meditation is an extremely helpful practice. Quieting the mind, being still and focusing on the present is something you can do anywhere. Make reflecting and meditating a habit by scheduling time for it daily. Exercise: Take 10 minutes to be alone with your thoughts, every day, without any interruptions. Start off by taking deep, centering breaths and relaxing your body. You can do this with a purpose (meditating on a certain topic, gratitude, prayer, etc.) or you can just let your mind wander without any restrictions. Eventually you can lengthen the meditation time or do it multiple times per day.

Mindfulness

Practice focusing your attention solely on the present moment. The more you can do this, the less you'll be caught up in your worries, concerns and doubts. Read more about this strategy in the post 'How To Be More Focused and More Present.' These three practices can be used regularly to help you stay present and focused on what's important. The more you can calm yourself, the better you'll be at overcoming obstacles and avoiding setbacks or breakdowns. Continue to remind yourself to take downtime, bring your thoughts back to what you can control and to stay in the moment.