Panic sets in. You are hot, your palms are sweaty, you’re out of breath, your legs feel like jelly, your heart is racing and you can’t think straight. Everyone is watching you, judging you - they know you’re a fraud. You know you can’t do this. It’s time to run away.
You leave the room; reinforcing and cementing your feelings of failure and inadequacy and inability to cope with everyday life.
1 in 6 people
in the UK experience a common mental health issue every year
According to Anxiety UK, each year, 1 in 6 of us will experience some form of mental health issue. Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness and can take many forms.
We are intrinsically primed to feel anxious in certain situations as a protection mechanism. If it’s dark and you hear footsteps behind you and you live in the plains of Africa, it’s wise to be afraid of what might be coming up behind you. Similarly, alone on UK streets at night, you might be wary of footsteps behind you. Being afraid to walk up your own stairs with all the lights on is less justified.
This innate fight or flight response can be physically exhausting and mentally draining if we don’t know how to channel it.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We could medicate but how about, if instead, we were given a way to manage our anxiety ourselves. How about if we could learn to quiet the negative voices in our heads and deal with them rationally, learning that we were in control of the outcome? How about if we were given a way to channel all that adrenaline in a way that did us some good, made us feel better, stronger and more able to deal with the world and all it throws at us?
A combination of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (or CBT) and CrossFit is one answer that can make a huge difference.
CBT is a way of analysing your thought processes and identifying the ones that are counter-productive so that you begin to have control over them. You can do this in therapy or to yourself by being super-aware of when those negative voices pipe up and slowly starting to challenge them.
You may not always be able to control your environment or things that happen to you but you are 100% in control of how you respond to them and what you think.
CrossFit develops resilience
It is pretty brutal and unflinchingly honest
CrossFit gives you an opportunity every day to explore this in hour-long slots of time. It gives you opportunities to confront your negative voices and to fail and try again a critical but non-judgemental space. And it is hard. It challenges you; it doesn’t molly-coddle you into thinking the world owes you anything or that you are worth it or that you deserve another treat. It’s pretty brutal and unflinchingly honest and just what we need in this super-soft, safe, 21st century world to develop resilience.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but CrossFit gives you something to genuinely feel anxious about, something that deserves your anxiety. CrossFit is genuinely hard to do (if you are fitter and stronger, you just go heavier and faster, so it’s always challenging) but during the process of feeling anxious about all of CrossFit (turning up to a class of people you don’t know, doing movements you aren’t used to, working harder, heavier, longer than you want to and doing workouts that scare you) you learn that you can control the outcome!
You can control the outcome
CrossFit gives us a fantastic opportunity to feel justifiably anxious and then to control our response to that anxiety which gives us tangible tools to take into the real world and use!
Panic sets in. You are hot, palms are sweaty, you’re out of breath, your legs feel like jelly, your heart is racing and you can’t think straight. You feel everyone is watching you, judging you - they know you’re a fraud. You know you can’t do this. This time, you don’t think about running away.
You take a deep breath, pick up the bar and start your workout. Within seconds, you use that adrenaline to fuel a gruelling combination of thrusters and pullups and as you drop off the bar for the final rep, you collapse to the floor, still hot, sweaty and out of breath but elated you finished it, receiving high fives from those around you who are all sharing your experience.
You did it! You controlled the outcome. Today, you were not a failure. Today, you fucking smashed it!
success is a point of view