Worry-less riding: Calming your horse event anxiety Noreen Esposito Ed.D., PMHNP-BC www.noreenesposito.com Presented at Eno Triangle Horsemasters (USPC) February 9, 2012 Overview • The best riders have “mental toughness” • The what, why and how of emotions • Understanding worry and anxiety • A thinking rider’s thoughts • Tricks and tips • Mindfulness: a way of being Mental toughness: How the best excel under stress • Mental toughness is: • A characteristic that helps the best (elite) athletes to succeed. • “She has mental toughness” • How athletes such as Olympic riders cope with the stress and pressure of competition. • It’s multidimensional (different components) • Where does it come from? • Inherited: 50% comes from genetics & biological history • Learned: 50% Self belief Emotional awareness Resilience Context intelligence Mental Toughness Success mindset Attentional control Optimistic thinking Handle a challenge Today’s presentation • Two key components of mental toughness, both associated with managing anxiety are: • Emotional awareness • Attentional control Emotions That saber-tooth tiger might eat me! • Emotions come from thoughts and bodily sensations Yikes... I'm scared • Thoughts including interpretations, judgments and beliefs influence our emotions and their intensity my heart is pounding • Thoughts elicit physical responses • Body sensations lead to thoughts Emotions • Emotions have physical characteristics : Quick...where can I hide from that tiger? • Crying (sadness & grief) • Butterflies in stomach (anxiety) • Physical urges (hugging when happy, running when scared) • Emotions lead to “motion” • Emotion is thought & feeling & readiness to act Emotional State • An emotional state is a moment in time • Like tides, emotions are temporary…come and go • Last a few seconds to minutes • Remembering that an emotion is temporary can make it more tolerable “This will pass” Emotions Vary in intensity from • One situation to another • One person to another • Some people experience emotions more intensely than others • Some people seem generally calm • Some people heat up quickly and calm down slowly Emotional Trait Emotional traits On I-40 Primary Emotions • Joy • Surprise • Love • Fear • Interest/Curiosity • Disgust • Sorrow • Guilt/shame • Anger Secondary emotions • In response to our primary emotions & subsequent thoughts/feelings and judgments Event primary emotion: anger secondary emotion: guilt thought about emotion: it's bad to be angry • 2ndary emotions are a complex pattern of learned responses such as being • Angry about being angry • Angry about being sad • Anxious about feeling fear Vulnerability to emotion Physical stresses that affect our basic human needs for food, shelter, warmth and comfort can interfere with our ability to regulate emotion: • • • • • • • Thirst, dehydration Hunger, poor nutrition, junk food Too much or too little sleep Insufficient exercise Pain, physical discomfort Prolonged stress Illness Drugs/substances may have negative effects • Too much caffeine • Medications • Substances like cigarette smoke, alcohol or other drugs Vulnerability to emotions • Thoughts and words can also make us more vulnerable to emotions • Judgments about ourselves and about others • Negative self talk or stories we tell ourselves • Invalidation: discounting our emotions, thoughts and things we do. Validation • Invalidation… discounting our emotions, thoughts and things we do. • Invalidation: “there’s nothing to be anxious about, you shouldn’t feel that way” • Leads to secondary emotions…guilt, frustration and social isolation • Validation: “it makes sense that you might feel this way” • Leads to positive feelings of happinessy, a sense of social connection and normalcy, allows the body to relax Painful Emotions: Fear/Anxiety • Fear: • A present (in-the-moment) emotion • Elicited by actual or potential danger, alarm or apprehension of something specific • Purpose is to prepare to do battle • Ends when danger is over • Anxiety • A future-oriented emotional & physical response • Elicited by an imagined future situation • Continues until you convince yourself otherwise. Anxiety • Underlying emotion is fear • Possibility of failure, danger or misfortune but not actual or real threat • Fear can be of external or internal • Sometimes the fear is fear of the possibility of anxiety • Physical symptoms: • • • • • Increased heart rate Shortness of breath, Sweaty, cold clammy hands chest tightness, dizzy • Anxiety can be State (temporary) and/or Trait Anxiety trait • A trait: An enduring characteristic • Anxiety trait: Responds to most challenges or thoughts of challenge with worry. • Predominantly worrisome thoughts about situations Anxiety state and/or trait What does this mean for our performance at horse (and other life) events? Someone who has: • Low trait anxiety(Quarterhorse) + high state anxiety (what if wolf appears horizon?) = peak performance • High trait anxiety (Arabian) + high state anxiety (what if piece of paper (or wolf) appears on horizon) = difficult to impossible performance Anxiety Thus • No physical arousal (no anxiety): inadequate performance • Low level physical arousal: good for performance • High level physical arousal: detrimental to performance • If very high physical arousal, steep drop in performance, reversed ONLY by reduction in physiological arousal All anxiety is anticipatory Mark Twain: “I’m an old man now. I’ve lived a long and difficult life, filled with so many misfortunes, most of which never happened.” Horse shows do not cause anxiety It's our thoughts about a situation or horse event that causes our anxiety Chain of thoughts and emotions Oh well, I missed a lesson Stayed up to clean tack, slept 4 hours last night stop worrying what if my horse steps on the dog? everyone else is calm I might fall off I'm worried I could get hurt START HERE woke up tired What if they drop the leash? what's wrong with me? Is he going to spook? he hates dogs oh my, there are people with a dog I'm scared what if the show doesn't go well?... my muscles are tight got to barn time to load horse into trailer I should have practiced more I can do this! I have butterflies, I feel a little sick worry Did I bring my boots? Did I bring the Coggins ? my horse spooks when its windy JUST RELAX! stop thinking about every thing and just RELAX! he's going to be hard to handle it's windy Arrive at show just do it Oh no, it's windy I Tack up Does the judge understand Arabians? what if he spooks? Will I lose points? I don't want to fall off He's going to spook it's blowing this way! He sees it he's tossing his head He gets so tense, maybe he's the wrong horse for there's a piece of paper on ground we enter the ring & halt It's almost time he's stiff, why is he stiff? my muscles are tight I'm clutching the reins He's looking at everything Practice arena Score 42 on dressage test he's tense why doe he do this ? I'm afraid RELAX! NOW!! come on,,, pay attention ... flex damn it! That transition took too long... Damn! Went off-course during the test, how did that happen? Why do I even do these shows? That lost points My score is going to suck Focus!! maybe it will be okay I should just give up these competitions I am focused © N Esposito, 2012 he's paying attention he's stepping under I just can't do this So what to do? Where we are • 2nd wave: Cognitive and behavioral approaches target an athlete’s psychological and social characteristic . • At this point there is very limited research that shows the usefulness of these now standard interventions by themselves. • • • • Goal setting Imagery Self talk Arousal increase or reduction • Psyching up • Relaxation • 3rd wave of interventions: A growing body of research on indicates that the incorporating MINDFULNESS with C_B can have a significant long term effects on anxiety. Things to help worry/anxiety • Worry time • • Schedule 15-30 minutes/day. Intentionally worry, just let worry run its course • Things that don’t work • • • Trying to suppress worry Reassure yourself or get assurance from others, won’t really help Criticize yourself for worrying • Relief from panic: Panic episodes that are disrupting your life deserve professional consultation and are treatable. In the interim, these may help you through an attack: At the earliest signs of panic: • • • • Remind yourself these are harmless fight or flight symptoms Unpleasant but normal Unpleasant but you are safe The 5 minute rule (adrenaline takes 5 minutes to be eliminated from you circulation, so it takes 5 minutes for physical symptoms to lessen and leave) • Sit with the symptoms until they are gone Other Techniques • Progressive muscle relaxation: • When: post competition • What : progressive muscle relaxing • Goal:, • increase awareness of muscle tension • decrease arousal post performance • Enhances positive feelings and wellbeing • May also work with difficulty sleeping night before. Techniques • Cognitive restructuring • When: pre performance & post • What: reinterpret thoughts to develop different interpretation of situation • De-emphasize the importance of competition • Reframe interpretations, for example in the chain of thoughts, there are many cognitions that can be interpreted differently Techniques • Imagery • When: Pre competition, at least a week or more • What: see next imagery slide • Goal: increase familiarity with tasks & gives positive feedback of imagined performance Imagery routine • Ability to imagine yourself successfully (or unsuccessfully) completing a act. • Pick skill to imagine. • Do relaxation before visualization • Make imagery as realistic as possible • Smells, sounds,… all senses • Bring skill into focus (ie test), view from your own eyes (be in the experience). • Try to feel the movement,, the connection between your body and your horse”s • Practice skill in real time Managing emotions: visualization • Go over the test in your mind, play it like a video, rewinding and replaying until it is the way you want it to be. • Visualize this excellent video in your mind every night before going to sleep • Imagine yourself smiling regardless of what happens. Goal setting: SCAMP • S: SPECIFIC: about your goals. How will you know if you met the goal? • C: CONTROLLABLE: Make the goals challenging but within your control. You can’t control how a judge will score, what the weather will be. You can control your personal performance “I will hit all the marks in my ride” • A: ATTAINABLE: work on step-by-step goals so you build your confidence and can actually succeed in meeting your goals. • M: MEASUREABLEL Be able to check yes I did it, no I didn’t, perhaps how well you did it on a scale of 1-10…. So you can see improvement • P: PERSONAL AND PROGRESSIVE: Devise goals that will help YOU progress based on where you now Control what you can • You can’t control weather, the mood of the judge, your other competition but you can control how you react to those things. • Minimize vulnerabilities: • Get sleep, eat well, check out competition, visit show site ahead of time, • Find a way to think positively about challenges an adversity If it can’t be changed, accept it and find something positive about it. Social support • Any of the 4 major categories • • • • Emotional support Esteem support Informational support Tangible support • Perceived support helps people feel safer and situations are less stressful. (knowing you are going to a show with supportive friends) • Received support • Sometimes helpful if person wants it • Sometimes increases stress if person is not ready for it. Other Anxiety Treatments • Medications • Antidepressants • Anti-anxiety • CBT • Long lasting effects (at least 10 years) What to remember about anxiety & worry • Anxiety is the physical unpleasant feeling interconnected with worry thoughts • Worry is a fear of uncertainty “what if” • Worry is always focused on the future • Worry can’t persist if you are focused on the present moment worrywarts Mindfulness The goal is to experience reality as it is in the present moment Goal mindfulness Increase happiness Reduce suffering Types of Mindfulness • MBSR (Mindfulness based stress reduction Kabat-Zin) • MBCT (COGNITIVE TX) • MB-EAT eating awareness • MBRP (relapse prevention :substance abuse recovery) • DBT (Dialectical behavioral therapy: Lenihan) • ACT (Acceptance commitment therapy: Hayes) • ABBT-GAD (accept based behavr tx for GAD) Mindfulness • Increases emotional awareness • Helps decrease • worry and ruminating • distractibility Mindfulness is being who are are, not who you want to be Mindfulness is being in the moment Assumptions • We are doing the very best in dealing with our emotions • We can get better and be more skillful in dealing with emotions • Learning emotion skills and behaviors is not just at horse events, but in all areas of our lives. From Lenihan, 1993 DBT Self belief Emotional awareness Resilience Context intelligence Mental Toughness Success mindset Attentional control Optimistic thinking Handle a challenge Resources • Mindfulness can be learned at any age • Examples of readings for children • Mindfulness for children • The mindful child (Grenland) • Maclean & Maclean (Peaceful Piggy Meditations). Bibliography • Chang, C. H. (2009). Handbook of sports psychology. New York: Nova Science Publishers. • Gardner, F. L., & Moore, Z. E. (2006). Clinical sport psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. • Gardner, F. L., & Moore, Z. E. (2007). The psychology of enhancing human performance : the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment approach (MAC) : a practitioner's guide. New York: Springer Pub. • Gucciardi, D., & Gordon, S. (2011). Mental toughness in sport : developments in theory and research. Abingdon, Oxon: New York : Routlege. • Hamilton, A. J. (2011). Zen mind, zen horse : the science and spirituality of working with horses. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., LLC. • Hayes, S. C. (2011). Get out of your mind and into your life. Nwe York, NY: MJF Books. • Karageorghis, C. I., & Terry, P. C. (2011). Inside sport psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. • Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press. Bibliography • Morris, T., Spittle, M., & Watt, A. P. (2005). Imagery in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. • Nicholls, A. R. (2009). Coping in sport : theory, methods, and related constructs. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers. • Stevens, L. (2008). Group Resilience. Equestrian Life. Retrieved from Equestrian Life website: http://www.equestrianlife.com.au/rider-skills/group-resilience • Savoie, J. (2003). It's not just about the ribbons : it's about enriching riding and life with innovative tools and winning strategies. North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar Square Pub. • Spradlin, S. E. (2003). Don't let your emotions run your life : how dialectical behavior therapy can put you in control. Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger. • Thatcher, J., Jones, M. V., & Lavallee, D. (2012). Coping and emotion in sport (2nd ed.). Abingdon, Oxon ; New York: Routledge. • Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2011). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology (5th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.