Finding the benefit in the challenge

Have you ever been so deep in a challenging moment that there really seems no way out?  Whether it be financial stress, injuries or emotional pain there is always a way to move forward and I believe your mindset is the place to start.  When I crashed in Amstel Gold race in 2018, I had a broken radius and a ripped up face that required surgery, I was bitterly disappointed to be out of the ardennes classics, races I love and not able to show my level or help my team. However looking back I choose to focus on the benefit of the challenge rather than the what if scenarios that raced through my mind. To start with I was grateful that I had crashed in The Netherlands compared with some of the other countries that I race in, I knew there I would be looked after well in the dutch hospital system and I was close to my family in the Netherlands as well. I was also grateful that I had ‘only’ broken my arm, I shared a hospital room with Lucy Kennedy, who suffered far worse than me in the same race. In the few weeks following the crash, I was grateful to have the opportunity to focus 100% on optimum nutrition and recovery techniques that I otherwise might not have incorporated as much into my program. I also had 8 weeks away from World Tour competition in the middle of the season and while I knew it would be challenging to return, I knew I would be fresher mentally and physically in the back end of the season which ultimately led to me winning my last race of the 2018 season for my team.
Mindset can be a very powerful tool or an equally powerful enemy. One of my mentors recently shared an insight with me when considering day to day situations; Currently in the coronavirus pandemic it is difficult to make plans more then a few days out and this was frustrating me, my mentor said; instead of saying ‘This happened TO me’, change it to; ‘This happened FOR me’. If you change that one word, your whole perception of the situation changes. Instead of looking at the situation in a negative light, your brain starts searching for the benefits of the challenge and how this situation you are now in can actually bring you benefits. So how can we actually do this?
Tip 1:
Awareness of your thoughts: Being aware of what you are actually telling yourself about yourself and your situation can have a dramatic affect on your outer world. If you work on telling yourself things you want to hear, it will make you feel better as you shift your thoughts to the positive state instead of dwelling on the negative. You have complete control over what you think, so why dwell on negative thoughts that bring you down!
Tip 2: 
Breath: If you are feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed in your situation, or even if you just want to take a moment for you, take a moment out and take some deep breaths and let go of your stress as you breath out. Your breath can be so powerful when you use it to your advantage.
Tip 3:
Look for the benefits of your situation right now, not the future benefits when you are out of it, but how this challenge is benefiting you right now. e.g. In the coronavirus pandemic with no races on the calendar I benefited from having extra time to work on personal development and establish a mentoring program for up and coming athletes.
I challenge you to try these tips, its quite amazing how much of a difference it can make.
Lauren Kitchen

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