Tips From a Sports Psychologist
Tip 1: Defeat the Panic
In challenging situations, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode as stress hormones flood our system—no good when you’re about to do a tricky PowerPoint presentation. “Find ways to stay calm in high-pressure situations,” insists Dr. Leif Smith, author of Sports Psychology for Dummies. “Take deep breaths, stretch your muscles to loosen them or listen to music that keeps you centred.”
Verdict: If you can breathe, you can do this (pro tip: If you’re reading this, you can breathe).
Tip 2: Train Your Mind
Tell yourself sweaty palms or a fast heartbeat are not signs you’re gonna fail—they’re just the side effects of someone ready to perform at their best—and use cue words to remind you of focus points. “Repeating words and phrases will remind you to focus on what you need to do,” says Smith. “If your mind is focused on your cue words, your body will follow.”
Verdict: Practice makes perfect.
Tip 3: Focus on the Now
“You have control over yourself and your own actions and attitudes, nothing more,” says Smith. “Keep your focus here. If you focus on outcomes—the things you have no control over—you’re creating unnecessary anxiety. Focus on the process, and you increase the likelihood of positive results happening.”
Verdict: Live in the moment. Simple.
Tip 4: Live a Bit Nicer
Your vagus nerve—which helps calm the pathways of the nervous system— responds kindly to meditation, positive thoughts, physical activity and increased omega 3 consumption.
Verdict: Eating fish and being happy. Aces.
Tips from Animals
Tip 1: Pant Noisily
Rapidly exhaling hot air and bringing in new, cool air—aka panting—is a technique employed most frequently by our canine brethren. Dogs sweat through their paws, but sticking their ample tongues right out and having a good pant cools them down much more efficiently.
Verdict: Doable, if somewhat insane on public transport.
Tip 2: Roll Around in Some Wet Mud
Pigs, hippos, boars and buffalo prefer a dip in the less whiffy of the brown stuffs. Why? Because water in mud evaporates slower than water on its own. And what does slower evaporation mean? Staying cooler for longer. Tick.
Verdict: Might be worth mentioning to your HR officer first.
Tip 3: Take a Mega Nap
Estivation is summer’s take on hibernation, and various species of snails, toads, frogs, earthworms and ground squirrels are keen ambassadors. Come the muggy weather, these clued-up creatures have the daddy of all slap-up meals (cannily storing food in their bodies) and then slope off underground into a pleasant state of dormancy until the rains come.
Verdict: Only for the mega-rich or terminally unemployable.
Tip 4: Poo on Yourself
When vultures and storks get hot and bothered, they gently defecate on their legs to cool down. Their waste being made up mostly of water, their poop works much the same way as our sweat, by evaporative cooling: As the mucky stuff dries up, heat is expelled, lowering their overall body temperature.
Verdict: Problematic in the workplace/a barbecue/anywhere where there’s anyone else, really.