“Give it all you’ve got” and “going-all-out” are couple of sayings many of us tell ourselves from time to time. We think that these attitudes are encouragement and as we strive to perform our best, we will be rewarded. But, in actuality, these thoughts create tension, anxiety, and stress that will hinder performance. Aikido, an ancient Japanese art, implies that the less resistance we create, the more efficient and effective our actions.
Try to do 5 – 10 push-ups with your upper body muscles tensed. Next, do 5 – 10 push-ups with these muscles relaxed. Do you feel the difference?
Relax to reach your max. More is not necessarily better.
Yet, relax in moderation. Find a balance.
In reference to famous Olympic coach, Bud Winter’s “ninety percent law“:
Performing at ninety percent effort promotes relaxation and results in faster movement, more strength, sharper vision, less fatigue, and an improved sense of well-being.
Affirmations for Relaxation
“Relax. Relax to achieve the max.”
“To perform without flaw, use the ninety percent law.”
“Relax my jaw and get so much more.”
“Look inward, smile, and relax.”
Guides for Relaxation
- Develop your own calm and tranquil visualizations, and allow them to enter your mind during stressful times.
- When you are faced with tension, anxiety, and stress at work or home, take 3 deep breaths and count backward from 10 to 1.
- Avoid or limit you intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Fill your body with foods and supplements rich in B-complex vitamins.
- Prior to a big presentation or professional activity, visualize yourself performing in a relaxed and calm state. Imagine all the possible positive scenarios in your mind. How many ways can you envision a successful outcome?
- Prior to anxiety-prone events, take time out for a hot tub or sauna. As you experience the heat, breathe deeply and visualize your calm and tranquil images. You may also want to play some soft music or self-made relaxation tracks, such as Classical, Baroque, and Native American compositions.
- Exercise on a regular, consistent basis. An active lifestyle will help you regulate the impact of tension, anxiety, and stress in your life.
“How Do I Relax My Body?”
In the 1930s, Edmund Jackson developed Progressive Muscle Relaxation. To try this type of relaxation, place yourself in a comfortable, reclined position (in a chair or on a floor mat) and breathe in and out 3 times. Next, you will contract and relax each major muscle group throughout your body. Start with your feet, transitioning to your calves, and knees, proceeding to your thighs, buttocks, abdomen, chest, back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, and lastly your face muscles. Hold each muscle contraction for at least 5 – 10 seconds before releasing the tension. This muscle relaxation exercise is designed to help you become aware of what tension feels like and experience the relaxation that follows when you release this tension, or let go. Perform Progressive Muscle Relaxation when you experience tension, anxiety, and stress at work or home, and remind yourself to let go and “Relax to achieve the max.”
Al Huang, C. & Lynch, J (1992). Thinking Body Dancing Mind: Tao Sports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life. New York, NY: Bantam Books.