The Gratitude Exercise - Reduce Anxiety, Get Present, and Improve Performance

anxiety gratitude military performance present visualization Nov 11, 2019

Happy Mindset Monday everyone!

In this week’s edition, I decided to post a video from a recent talk I gave to the Seton Hall University baseball team on the power of visualization and imagery. 

I work with my clients to create personalized visualization and imagery exercises to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, and perform at their best when it matters the most. 

Every athlete is different - some prefer unguided visualizations where they create the imagery and content. 

Others prefer guided visualizations which involve listening to someone provide direction to you on what to do and what to think. 

I expose my athletes to both kinds of visualizations, and I use emWave HeartMath software to show them how their bodies react to each kind. 

One of my most effective unguided visualization exercise is the “waves” exercise which I will describe in another blog post.

But given it is Veteran’s Day, I decided to share this video of my “gratitude exercise” since it involves a brief story of my gratitude moment. 

Psychologists say that our minds cannot simultaneously hold gratitude and anxiety as thoughts. It is one or the other. 

So I recommend that my athletes have a “go-to” gratitude moment they can access when they feel especially nervous, fearful, or anxious. Something to get their minds of the pressure, get them present, and reduce their anxiety. 

Usher in .... the “gratitude exercise.” 

As I discuss in the video, think of a time in your life when your heart was exploding with gratitude. I recommend finding a moment with family since this is really easy to do and often the most visceral emotionally. 

This could be a birthday party or a graduation party. A time when you were 4 or 5 years old and opening presents under the tree with all of your family around. Anything that makes your heart sing.

Then live that moment in as much detail as possible. Try to put yourself in that moment as if you were living it - what did you see? What did you smell? What did it feel like when you were ripping opening presents? What music was playing in the background? Can you taste your Mom’s gingerbread cookies? 

When we focus on gratitude, we push out anxiety. We think about what’s most important in our lives. We get present. And all of those things help us perform better than the alternative - when we are worried about the past of the future. When we are focused on the worst case scenario. When we are caught up in the outcome rather than the process. 

The best news? You can reduce your anxiety in a really short amount of time when you have your “go-to” gratitude moment. 

And I speak from experience when I say it helps - I used it right before I had to testify in front of Congress in 2016 on my evaluation of U.S. counterterrorism policy since 9/11. 

You can listen to my gratitude moment in the video. It has to do with me surprising my daughter after my Iraq deployment. 

What is your moment? 

Put this into your mental game arsenal and I guarantee it will help you get present and reduce anxiety. 



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