Written by Rebecca Payne Edited by Onika Green
Why do some people shrink under pressure while others seem to thrive? Mindset, baby!
"The thing that separates the best from the rest is just the mindset." - Bianca Andreescu
19 year old Mississauga native Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian in history to win a Grand Slam singles title by defeating Serena Williams at the U.S. Open in New York. While there's no doubt she works her butt off in the gym and keeps her nutrition on point, she credits a large part of her success to preparation through meditation and visualization.
Meditation & mindfulness seem to be trending in recent years. There are all kinds of resources available to learn mental performance skills, many of which are free of charge. There are apps to practice with, blog posts to learn from, and even in-person workshops that you can attend in your community. And this isn’t just some wacky New Age idea: Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years across various cultures, and more recent scientific research has shown that, with practice, you can re-wire your brain to perform more effectively. So, yes, absolutely take advantage of all the amazing free resources that are out there, but because we’re talking about literally re-wiring your brain, it’s also worth working with a pro like a Mental Performance Consultant.
What does a Mental Performance Consultant Do?
There's much more to mental skills training than just mindfulness and meditation. A Mental Performance Consultant specializes in the training and development of mental skills such as:
o stress management
o goal setting
o emotional control
o time management
o conflict resolution
o positive self talk
o decision making
o relaxation and activation
o self monitoring
Participating in mental performance training is like getting a gym membership for your mind. As we perform physical exercises, our bodies get stronger, more capable, and more efficient. Your brain isn't a muscle, but just like the rest of your body, exercising it will help you achieve peak performance, and your Mental Performance Consultant is your personal brain-trainer. Just like a physical fitness coach, a Mental Performance Consultant will show you all the best exercises to perform and will hold you accountable to putting that practice into action. A Mental Performance Consultant isn’t going to give you any kind of diagnosis, so it’s a myth that you need to be struggling with something to justify meeting with one. In fact, if you’re dealing with clinical issues such as substance abuse, a mood disorder, and so forth, you may want to seek a licensed Clinical Psychologist instead (or Clinical Sport Psychologist if you’re an athlete), and it’s advisable to check in with your Family Doctor, too. Mental Performance Consulting isn’t about diagnosing and treating conditions or illnesses; it’s about mastering the mental skills that will give you a competitive edge and help you perform more consistently at your personal best.
What happens in a mental performance consulting session?
Mental Performance Consulting sessions can give you practical solutions to everyday challenges, increased resilience, the accountability and support you need to achieve your goals, and more. Sessions can take place in a team/workshop setting, or they can be one-on-one. At PEAKS Lifestyle, working one-on-one with Mental Performance Consultant Onika begins with a half-hour long intake session. This session is like a meet-and-greet where you’ll get to know the consultant a little bit, as well as getting an overview of how it all works (including confidentiality policies) and how your consultant can help you. If you feel like it’s a good fit and want to schedule a follow up, your next visit (and all sessions thereafter) will be 1 hour in length, and you can come as often as you like. The number of sessions needed varies from person to person and situation to situation. During sessions, you’ll learn essential mental performance skills and be given practical tasks to take these new skills out of the consultant’s office and into your everyday life. With time and practice, your new skills will eventually become second nature (thanks, neuroplasticity!).
Why a consultant and not a friend or family member?
Peer support is awesome and has its own benefits, but nothing can replace the accountability you get from someone whose job is to help you make progress toward your goals. A Mental Performance Consultant has undergone extensive training and will be able to offer insight and consistent support in a judgment-free zone.
When meeting with a Mental Performance Consultant for the first time, it’s very important that you meet with a Professional Member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association (CSPA). This organization consists of Mental Performance Consultants and Registered Psychologists who work with athletes and coaches, helping them to perform more consistently at their personal best. From the CSPA website:
CSPA Professional Members have met a high standard of education and training and have gone through an extensive review process. Professional members abide by the CSPA code of ethics and fulfill the following criteria:
· At a minimum, a Master's degree in sport psychology or related field
· A demonstrated understanding of foundational disciplines such as human kinetics or kinesiology, psychology, and counselling
· Extensive consulting experience
· Hands on experience in sport
· Favourable supervisor and client evaluations
When choosing to work with a Mental Performance Consultant, you can visit https://www.cspa-acps.com/find-a-consultant to verify their standing.
Be they physical or mental, we all have skills to learn and practice. The people who are willing to acknowledge their own opportunities for growth and put in the work to make it happen are the ones who come out ahead in the end. Curious? Click here to learn more and book your free intake session with Mental Performance Consultant at PEAKS Lifestyle, Onika Green.