Competing in any sport comes with different challenges, perks and opportunities. One of those is travelling abroad or interstate for competitions/fights. Some athletes love the excitement of going to new places; whilst others find the lack of routine and home comforts more challenging. For me, only three of my fights have been in the UK so I actually found it strange to be at home after a weigh in.
Fighting itself is stressful enough as you’re going into a situation where you have expectations and a lot of uncontrollables. Couple that with travelling, being in a new place and maybe not speaking the language; that can double the amount of stress felt because stress comes from things we can’t control.
One way to reduce stress is focusing on the things you can control; here are some tips to try out:
1-Notice what things are making you feel stressed (taking some time to reflect or journaling) and ask yourself whether or not that is in your control? If not, refocus on the things you can control and just say to yourself, ‘I can’t control this but I can control…’
2- Use what you can control and make a plan to keep your mind focused on what you have to get done. E.g. planning how you will get to the airport, packing, leaving enough time, etc. This is also a perfect time to look at what pockets of opportunities you have to get into the mind-set you want; e.g. listening to a specific playlist to feel calm when on your way to the airport, hotel, etc.
3- For some it can help to just take something from home that makes you feel calm or do one thing that you would normally do at home that gives you a sense of control and routine.
4- Find things to get excited about- What are you looking forward to about taking this fight, travelling to this country? Why is it important for you to take this fight? What will you gain as a fighter from going through this experience? By reminding yourself of what you will gain from the experience and why it is important to you can help to reduce the impact of stress. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel stressed or nervous but it will help you to accept that those emotions are part of the process; which can reduce the impact they have on you.
We can have this great idea/expectation on how we want the lead up to a fight to be ‘perfect’ which rarely happens; everyday life throws us new challenges. So it’s about constantly being flexible with our mind-set to refocus on what we can control and accept that we can’t. By doing the things that we can control means we have done everything we could to put ourselves in the best possible position to fight.