Are your best moments of the day happening at the gym or crag? Is the rest of your life on auto-belay as you go through the motions to get through the work week? Once you get to the crag are you struggling to focus on redpoint attempts because you are feeling anxious? Does your send or time at the summit feel like a letdown after all your hard work to prepare for that moment because of a recent breakup or traumatic event?
It is common for dedicated athletes to struggle with all kinds of performance anxiety and emotional letdowns during training or following the completion of a project. Many people seek out the comfort of physical exertion or exercise to forget about stresses, breakups, and depressed feelings. But when your workouts and successes stop alleviating stress it is time to seek out professional help to talk about your feelings. Your time at the gym or on rock should be joyful and happy, not a let down or escape from your everyday life and relationships.
Memory is stored in the body so if you want to change how you feel when you are runout above your last bolt or at the summit then you must work on your mental game to the same degree that you train your body. If you are in a funk that you just cannot seem to break out of with physical training then punishing your body more will not do the trick.
We know that most of us give up well before our physical limits. Why? Our brains are hard-wired for survival and, even though we may be technically ‘safe’ on a route or technical terrain in the alpine, if our minds are screaming out ‘danger’ then our body will shut down. Training your mind will help you to feel better while you climb and allow you to increase your focus so that you climb harder and happier.
I am well trained in providing mental health training for athletes and have an extensive background training for successful performance. As a lifelong competitive athlete and Big-Ten wrestler I competed against some of the best athletes in the Country and trained, both physically and mentally, with Olympic medal winners. When I made the switch to Climbing in 2012 I used those same skills to develop my confidence on some of the most classic climbs in the Southwest US. My first Trad leads were on runout old school routes that offered limited protection. *These were not routes I would recommend to a beginning leader but I can tell you that what kept me safe was a combination of physical and mental skills that kept me focused and breathing calmly during tense moments.*
If you are struggling with feelings of anxiety/depression, trauma, or relationships issues when climbing it will be beneficial to take the time and invest in high-quality Therapy. This will help you to not only reach the summit but also to feel more content, happy, and joyful when you do.
Endless hangboard sessions at the gym will absolutely make your fingers stronger but if your mind is overwhelmed by negative self-talk, doubt, and insecurities then no matter how strong your body becomes you will not unlock greater success on your project.
Contact me today to see how I can help.