A practical tip to reduce anxiety

Posted by Amanda Furness


When you are next presented with a stressful situation, be it speaking in public or playing sport in a tournament, this tip may prove helpful.

Clench your left fist, as you would if you were holding a stress ball, for a minute before the event and then release it – that’s it! You can use a stress ball if you find it more comfortable and have one to hand.

Although there is on-going controversy about left brain/right brain thinkers, researchers found in a study using skilled athletes that those who clenched their left fist prior to competing performed the same or better whilst those who clenched their right were more likely to choke under pressure. The reasoning was that the left hand side of the body is believed to be connected to the right hemisphere of the brain. This is the side of the brain associated with automatic movements. Clenching your left fist will also constrain the left hemisphere of your brain which is considered to be the language area and responsible for rumination and worrying thoughts.

So by reducing your worrying thoughts about the event and encouraging your automatic movements, clenching that left fist may well be the route to an improved performance next time you have to deliver a well-rehearsed but anxiety-inducing skill.

(Note – There was a caveat that the study focused on right-handed people as the relationship between different parts of the brain isn’t as well understood for left-handed people – may still be worth a try though?)