Technically speaking there is no such thing as a 'Stressful Situation'.
Now before you decide I'm nuts let me explain what I mean...
Situations in themselves are not stressful, but they do have the potential to trigger powerful stress reactions based on
- how we perceive the situation
- whether we believe our resources & abilities meet the situational demands
- how important it is to us that we succeed and how serious we believe the consequences are if we fail
What is Stress?
Stress is 4-step process our minds and bodies go through and it isn't until we have weighed the demands of a trigger situation against our our resources & abilities while trying to predict the outcome and its consequences that we feel stressed (or not stressed).
If our abilities meet or exceed the situational demands, we mentally predict a 'favourable outcome' and the stress response is minimal.
e.g. You coach asks you to do 3 Deadlifts at 75% of your 1 rep max.
If, on the other hand, we are unsure of our abilities and/or feel there are serious consequences for failing we will likely experience a significant stress response aka "the fight or flight response"
e.g. You are competing for the first time and all your opponents look much bigger, stronger and scarier than you ever imagined.
Based on the degree of our physical response we typically revert to coping mechanisms/behavioural patterns that we have developed as a means of handling stress. These learned coping mechanisms can either be very effective or highly ineffective and once learned they can be extremely difficult to unlearn or modify.
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