by Michael Plank

If you’ve done CrossFit long enough, you’ve found moments where your mind works against you. You get panicky as you get out of breath. You despair as you think about how much of the workout is left. You are sure that you’re going to fail the lift before you even start. And it becomes super tough to rein in that brain of yours and make it get back on your team. It’s possible, but you can’t yell at your mind to get back in the game and have it work. You have to be a little sneaky. Here’s my favorite way to do it.

  1. Do two box breaths. A box breath is where you breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4. That’s one breath. Do it twice.
  2. Out loud or in your mind, name 5 things you can see. (e.g. my shoelace, the dumbbell, the light bulb, etc)
  3. Name 4 things you can feel. (e.g. my shirt on my shoulders, the ground under my right foot, etc.)
  4. Name 3 things you can hear. (e.g. the music, my breathing, traffic, etc.)
  5. Name 2 things you can smell.
  6. Name 1 thing you can taste.
  7. Do one more box breath.

That’s it.

Just like that, you’ll be out of the downward spiral of a mind that’s a runaway train. By getting your mind to focus on the present instead, your mind will let go of the stories that spin out of your control. And guess what… this also works if you’re getting home and your mind is racing with work. It works if you’re having an argument with your spouse. It works if your kids are making you crazy. It’s not permanent, but it usually lasts long enough to make a difference. And when you get practiced at it, it only takes about 30 seconds. Your mind is arguably the most powerful tool you have. Having a couple of tricks like this up your sleeve pays off.