Site icon Troy Media

Feeling stressed? Think and behave like an Olympic athlete

Olympics track and field

Photo by Alessandro Venturi on Unsplash

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“A gentleman does not lose control of his temper. … Exhibitions of anger, fear, hatred, embarrassment, ardour or hilarity, are all bad form in public,” wrote Emily Post.

The Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are underway. Sometimes I’m grateful that this only happens every four years. It’s one of those rare times when my husband and I settle down in front of the television for lengthy periods, watching Olympians put their hearts and souls on the line.

During the games, Canadians will cheer as one, with no dissenting voices crying foul over decisions made by our political leaders. Instead, our eyes will be glued on the efforts of competition. We’ll feel the highs and lows – the emotional turmoil that faces each competitor.

There will be those who have trained tirelessly and fall short of their dreams for a podium position. Others may suffer injuries or illnesses that pull them out of the running.

But as much as physical preparation and good fortune matter, emotional control will be critical. And not just during the competition. After, in front of the cameras, it will also be important.

Controlling your emotions under tremendous pressure can be difficult at the best of times. It’s even more difficult when your hopes are dashed and an overzealous media person sticks a microphone in your face and asks questions that sound like: “So, how does it feel to be a loser?”

The pressure to perform, and then explain why you didn’t maintain your personal best, is incredible. Yet, most of these elite athletes will manage to act and speak with grace and dignity – instead of yanking the microphone out of the interviewer’s hand and throwing it into the crowd. (This is better behaviour than what happens at political debates.)

How can we all learn to maintain our dignity when we face tough situations or questions?

Never underestimate the power of holding your tongue. You can always use silence to your advantage. When you’ve been asked something stupid, standing quietly and staring at the questioner puts the pressure right back on them to justify their word choices. It’s important not to take responsibility for someone else’s lack of grace.

To be a good sportsman, Post said, “One must be stoic and never show rancour in defeat, or triumph in victory, or irritation, no matter what annoyance is encountered. One who can not help sulking, or explaining, or protesting when the loser, or exulting when the winner, has no right to take part in games and contests.”

Here are a few tips for performing better under pressure:

Remember, while you may not have control over others, you do control your emotional responses to them. Step back, breathe deeply, relax and refocus. Pat yourself on the back when you show good form in the face of adversity.

If you start feeling stressed or experience a real pressure-cooker situation, think like an Olympian – and show a bit of grace while you’re doing it.

Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.  For interview requests, click here.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors’ alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

© Troy Media
Troy Media is an editorial content provider to media outlets and its own hosted community news outlets across Canada.

Exit mobile version