My Inner Defender: Using Soccer Resilience® to Shut Out Anxiety & Panic

anxiety breathing mental health
Finding My Inner Defender: Using Soccer Resilience® to Shut Out Anxiety & Panic

Heart pounding, palms sweaty, legs like jelly. My wife and I were hiking in Baja California, Mexico, and suddenly, I was drowning in pure, unadulterated fear. No explanation, just a tidal wave of anxiety that left me frozen in my tracks. 🤯

"Babe, I can't go on," I blurted, fear choking my voice.

My wife, was understandably confused. "Why? What's wrong?"

My mind was a hurricane of "what ifs": what if I slip, what if I fall, what if... 😨 

BUT, as someone who trains others on this, I knew this wasn't weakness. 💪 It was a chance to practice what I preach: Soccer Resilience®

Here's how I kicked anxiety's butt and finished the hike like a champ (and how you can too!):

Breathe, Just Breathe 😮‍💨

  • In moments of heightened emotions, it's essential to bring our thinking brain back online. One of the first strategies I remembered was focused breathing. So, I focused on my breathing: in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds. My racing mind started to settle some. 

What Was I Thinking? 🤔

  • Next step: identifying the thoughts that were causing me to feel this way. I realized that I had been envisioning myself slipping on the trail, falling off the cliff, and dying. It was a terrifying mental loop that only intensified my panic. Recognizing that these were just thoughts allowed me to start shifting my focus. And to redirect my thoughts away from the disastrous scenarios to the path - right in front of me.

Feel Your Feet 👣

  • The last thing I did was 'feel my feet.' I focused on my feet, pressing them into the earth. It was like an anchor, pulling me back from the anxious future and into the now. This simple act brings us back to the present moment and helps prevent our minds from wandering into worrisome future scenarios. 

Within minutes, the panic melted. (Seriously 😊)

This wasn't just a Baja win. It was a reminder that Soccer Resilience® isn't just for the field. It's for life's curveballs, too. 🌎

Remember, you're not alone in the game on or off the field. We all get hijacked by our emotions sometimes. But with the right tools, you can reclaim control and rewrite your own narratives. So next time the panic hits, take a deep breath, shift your focus, and feel your feet.

Then say, "Bring it on!" ⚽️😎

Dr. Brad Miller, Psy.D.

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