Anxiety Check – SUP Tip: SIC Talk Story


Global Athlete Seychelle hosts SUP Tips on #sictalkstory talking about “Anxiety Check” Seychelle hosts these Talk Stories LIVE on SIC Maui’s Women of Watersports Facebook Page.  



Welcome to another exciting episode of SIC Maui Talk Stories! I’m your host Seychelle, and I’m going to talk to you today about a different kind of talk story than we typically do, although I think it is a very pertinent and potent one for a lot of paddlers. We’ll talk a bit about anxiety today and whether that’s race day anxiety, whether that’s start line anxiety, or just in general – anxiety. A little bit about what that is, why we have it, and some tips on how to shift it.

Disclaimer – I am not a medical professional. I am just offering my own experience, love, and truth at this moment. So take something that works for you and apply it, and if not, then don’t. I sincerely hope this helps. I want to start out specifically talking about race anxiety or start line anxiety because I know all of you are paddlers, and that may or may not be something you experience. I have a little bit of anxiety, so it’s normal to have a little bit of anxiety and it’s just having tools to be able to notice that and work with it, work through it, shift it so that it’s not something that is really tampering, to be paddle specific, your performance that day or how you feel about an event. I can say with 100 percent confidence that our best performance is going to be when we are present, enjoying the experience, and when we are the most relaxed. The more relaxed, the more present you are, the better you see opportunities in the moment, and the better decisions that you make in the moment, and the best performance your body’s actually going to provide you. So yes, exercise is physical stress, so I’m talking about that internal, emotional, anxious part of us. The more relaxed we can be about our performance specifically, the better performance we’re gonna have. I could go in two different directions here, and one is that a lot of that has to do with letting go of a specific result, and surrendering that. Just doing your best is literally the best, and that could look a lot of different ways. We really can’t quantify a specific result to performance. We just know that we have our best, we have the best possible, and that’s going to happen when we’re the most relaxed.

So we want to do everything that we can to really try to curb any anxiety that we feel about specific results. This is definitely something I’m speaking from experience with and also with working with paddlers that show up to start lines consistently and how they’re able to give feedback on their experiences as well. So I want to be relaxed. I want to be present. I want to be in the moment. And so talking about releasing my grip on results in order to stay relaxed. How do I do that? I shift actually into a mindset or an embodiment of gratitude for just being there on the start line, who I’m lining up against, who I’m competing against that day, it’s getting to be there whether the weather is cooperating or not, how the conditions are, you know, to quote like Paddle Monster and Larry Cain, “love the conditions”. But really it’s about getting into that mindset of feeling like being there and being present and enjoying yourself is having made it, is the result that you’re looking for, is why you paddle. So the mind has this amazing ability to be in multiple places in multiple time zones at once. So we can be in the past, present, future. We can be all over the place. We can be having make-belief conversations and scenarios in our head and we do that all the time, right? And that’s one of the powers that we have of our mind and the amazing thing about our body is that it can only be in the present moment. We can only experience our body in the present moment. So… why am I experiencing anxiety? It’s because I’m not in the present moment.

So what is anxiety? It is… I am either in the past, dwelling on what has happened, and that can be something that I can use to my benefit, to learn from, to be excited about, to be proud of, it’s also something I can also dwell on and bring fear based off of past experiences into current experiences. So noticing if my mind is in the past and that’s causing me anxiety, I need to shift myself into the present moment and notice, “wait, that fear that I have from this past experience actually doesn’t need to be with me in the present moment”. Then the other place I could be is in the future that doesn’t yet exist. I’m just making it up in my head. I’m thinking about what could happen. I’m thinking about what I want to happen. You can think all day long about positives, what you want to happen, visualizations, anything that’s in a positive emotional reaction go for it! Anything that’s negative, fear, dwelling, clenching, not relaxed emotion, that’s something that we want to bring ourselves back to the present moment and release. How many times are we in our head having a conversation with somebody that we will never have? Right. It’s never going to happen the way we imagine it’s going to happen. So, if those thoughts of the future what if, all the things that could go wrong, and, or all the things that could go right, but especially all the things that could go wrong because those are making us feel anxious, just know that there is no way we will ever be able to predict what’s actually going to happen, or how it’s going to happen. The best possible outcome is going to happen if I can bring myself back into the present moment and be relaxed so that I can make those choices and decisions that I need to make to make that happen. This can be for paddling, this can be for any performance in general. So, how do I get back into the present moment? I get back into my body and out of my mind. Out of my head. Get back into my body. And how do I get into my body? I use my breath. The breath brings us into the body. That’s the best tool that we have in our toolbox. Hands down. The breath. The breath should be your go to. Notice when your mind, when you’re anxious, where your mind is at past, present, future and if that’s causing you anxiety, bring it back into the present moment by using one of these breathing techniques and just try it and see how it works for you.

Whether you’re seated, whether you’re standing, whatever you’re doing. Maybe you can put your feet a little flatter on the ground and just drop your energy. We’re going to take a deep breath in together. You can keep your eyes open or closed. And just a long breath out the mouth. And so one of the first tools is let’s just keep going in through the nose and then out through the mouth, but almost like you’re blowing out through a straw, like whoosh. And a long breath in. A relaxed, comfortable, deep breath in. And then a longer exhale. And that exhale, if I’m really feeling anxious, in through the nose, those will even be kind of forceful. So those forceful ones kind of just bring me in, right? And then I start to elongate it. The inhale actually stimulates our sympathetic nervous system. So that kind of amps us up a little bit. That’s that energy of up and forward. And then our exhale is parasympathetic. And that actually relaxes the nervous system. So we want to have longer exhales than inhales. And closing your eyes does help you come into your body. So again, this is about using the breath to bring us into the body. And just feel where that breath’s going. Feel where you’re tense. And use the breath now, taking it to that area as you exhale, and consciously asking your body to let that go. And so you can continue in through the nose, out through the mouth longer exhales and inhales. And I’m just going to add one more, or offer one more tool you can use for breathing that’s really simple. Some folks find it really helpful to count, like a count of 4 on an inhale and a count of 8 on an exhale, or do more like a square breath. Count either the amount of, beats on your inhale and then longer beats per exhale. What the tool I want to offer you now is looking for the pause in between the inhale and the exhale. So inhaling for whatever is comfortably deep and nourishing for you and just noticing the pause, that hesitation, that moment before you exhale and then exhaling out. Noticing the pause at the base of the exhale before you take your breath in. Noticing the pause at the top and then releasing. And just looking for that moment, that pause, it’s almost like time stops in between an inhale and an exhale if you notice it, if you let it. And how many times do we say, gosh I wish I could slow down, I wish things could slow down, I wish life would slow down. Life doesn’t slow down, we slow down. This is a simple tool that you can use anytime, anywhere, in the car, in a meeting, while you’re paddling, when you’re at the start line, lining up. If I’m focusing that much on my breathing, I’m bringing the awareness from wherever it is back into the present moment. And if you’ve been doing this with me for the last few minutes, like just notice like right now, just check in.

How are you feeling? Do you feel more relaxed? Do you feel more grounded? So here’s an example of my story… I was surfing on my Atlantis 14 foot race board and the waves were pretty fun and I was a little bit outside my comfort zone and I had actually forgotten my leash because we just moved and so I was using a bungee with a carabiner and it broke. I wipe out the bungee, the bungee snaps and so I’m swimming back to the shore throwing my paddle. I get back to the shore, and I have a fear of sharks. I wish I didn’t, and I don’t know why. If I can see them, I’m not afraid. But I get really anxious when my leash breaks, and I have to swim back to the shore, it’s big fear for me. So I get back to shore and I’m catching my breath, got my board, rolled up the beach and I’m just sitting there and I’m trying to decide if I should go back out, if I should try and tie the bungee back together and make it work for a little bit longer of a session. And while I’m doing that, the next thing I notice is all around me little hatching baby turtles are crawling into the water. So literally my board washed up in the perfect place that I got to witness a nest of baby turtles and that’s the first one I’ve seen all year like a whole nest. I’ve seen like one or two little stragglers. That’s the first one I’ve seen all year of a whole hatching. And I was like, “thank you life for, if my leash hadn’t broken and I wouldn’t have gone back to the beach, I wouldn’t have got to see that”. Right?

So we just don’t know what’s in store for us and sometimes a sucky situation turns into something really beautiful and wonderful. So another couple of points I just wanted to make is that I have had great success with CBD for sleep, anxiety, and inflammation, and I have a really great brand of CBD that I use from Touchstone Essentials, and I would love to provide you with that recommendation if you want it, let me know. And then I do work one on one with athletes on coaching and just having the confidence of a coach and the pep talks, but just going much, much deeper into that specifically for you and your situations. If that’s something you’re interested in also please reach out. I hope you take some time to breathe today. Be in the present moment and enjoy your day! Talk to you soon. Bye!