What Can Hurt Performance?

focusedMost successful people have a general understanding of what supports their well-being, whether or not they have professional assistance with mental performance training. Mentally tough individuals have developed a variety of cognitive and behavioral coping strategies to draw upon in daily life and during performance.

Everyone, even the most successful person, is vulnerable to the stress and pressure of success, unexpected obstacles, or medical problems impacting their mental toughness. Many people are underinformed about the things that impede performance or struggle to identify those things in themselves. Winning the mind game and maintaining peak performance includes recognizing and responding to the signals our minds and bodies send us.

What negatively impacts a performer is a complex system of variables that address the environment, the personality of the person, and the impact of stressful life events on both. These impacts can result in a variety of reactions in attempts to cope.

All coping is adaptive and it is our nature to adapt and find a way to survive in our environment. However, not all coping is healthy. It can be difficult for individuals who are used to being confident or view the negative indicators as weakness to recognize maladaptive coping. Research indicates that athletes use a variety of cognitive and behavioral coping strategies that can be classified into eight categories:

  1. Active-coping
  2. Problem-focused
  3. Seeking social support
  4. Positive reappraisal
  5. Self-control
  6. Wishful thinking
  7. Detachment
  8. Self-blame

Some indicators of insufficient coping include anxiety, abuse of drugs and alcohol, deterioration of performance skills or confidence, negative thinking, stress, sleep deprivation or disturbance, fatigue, or poor nutrition.

Addictive behaviors such as gambling, substance abuse, disordered eating, addictive exercise, and alcohol abuse have been studied on both a problematic and diagnostic level. Performance is significantly impacted by these behaviors on a problematic level far before they meet diagnostic criteria.

In the case of athletes, it is important to examine the duration, intensity, frequency, mode, and setting of the training program. Some individuals can become overly dependent on physical activity and exercise to cope with difficult life situations. This abuse of exercise can result in disturbances in mood and worsened physical health.

Extreme cases of overtraining can result in overtraining syndrome or staleness syndrome–conditions associated with deteriorating performance or underperformance, behavioral disturbances, fatigue, increased susceptibility to infections, and clinical depression.

It can be challenging to seek professional services. I encourage you to explore the other areas of my website or contact me if you or someone you know may be dealing with these challenges. With the right support and information, these impediments to peak performance can be avoided and overcome.