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Achieving success can be a long and arduous journey, especially if you find yourself filled with doubt, anxiety and any number of self-deprecating thoughts. After all, when it comes to ambition, while external contacts and support are indeed necessary, a healthy mind is crucial. That said, just because you may have some self-esteem issues doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to strive towards success, all you need to do is turn your mind into an ally rather than an enemy. Today, we’re going to take a look at how you can do this.

Your Brain as an Enemy

We’ve all been there. One minute you’re dreaming about how well you’re going to do in life, and the next moment you’re picking out every part along that path where you might fail. For some of us, our own minds can be so instinctively discouraging that they put us off wanting to achieve anything at all.

In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental issue in the country with 18% of adult Americans suffering from anxiety disorders. Of course, there are many more individuals around the world who deal with general low self-esteem and nervousness on a daily basis. In fact, the problem is worse with younger generations: 87% of Americans aged 18 to 29 reported feeling stressed “sometimes” or “often” in early 2017, reveals Statista.

However, that is not just the case for normals like us, even people who have already managed to become successful for their fitness and physical abilities seem to have these doubts. Speaking to sports betting editorial team Betway Insider, sports psychologist Roberto Forzoni said that thought processes were a huge reason as to why incredibly successful sports stars find themselves nervous and unable to win when the time comes. Forzoni, who was the National Performance Psychologist for the Lawn Tennis Association between 2007 and 2009, states that rather than thinking about what they have to do to win, some athletes crumble under the pressure of the consequences of a potential defeat.

In the sporting world, this is known as ‘choking’, though it can very much apply to other areas of life. In an article in Podium Sports Journal, in the same article, choking is described as the nervous system recognising an internal threat (self-doubt, pressure etc.) and kicking into flight or fight mode, something that we have all experienced. Firstly, our adrenaline spikes, followed by faster breathing, the redirection of blood from the extremities and even the halting of the digestive system. Finally, the muscles tense and the bowels loosen, neither of which really helps in any situation.

From LeBron James in the 2011 NBA finals to Jana Novotna in 1993 and beyond, history has shown that not even professional athletes are immune to choking. This is an extreme example of how our brain can affect our performance, but it really shows how important it really is to have your brain on your side. So, how can we turn our brains from an enemy to an ally?

Your Brain as an Ally

Here at Veggie Athletic, we love food that makes us feel good and know that there are plenty of nutritional advantages for your brain depending on what you eat. Asparagus is packed full of folic acid that can boost your mood, avocado is full of crucial vitamin B that promotes healthy nerves and blueberries are organic stress-busters as they are packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Other easy foods to add to your diet to promote a healthy mind include almonds (and almond milk), oranges, spinach and oatmeal.

Meanwhile, over at Psychology Today, individuals dealing with a less than co-operative brain are advised to try deep-breathing exercises, self-care and, perhaps most importantly, challenging negative core beliefs. These are the thoughts that pop into our minds to tell us that there’s a good chance we will not succeed today; in fact, we’re probably the least capable human being on the planet. These thoughts are incredibly harmful and so it is important to always pick up on them and attempt to change them over time.

This can be done by keeping a journal exploring the thoughts, including the context and the emotions that surround them before finally challenging them through applying reality and rational thought. For instance, there’s absolutely no proof whatsoever to support such defeatism. Whether you fail or not cannot be determined before you have even tried, that is simply a misnomer created through normal yet dangerous thought processes based on self-doubt.

Once you begin to get a grip on the thoughts that are disparaging you, you will be able to turn your mind and think “no, that’s not true so I’m going to try”. Once you have accomplished this, you will be able to accomplish anything you put your newly befriended brain to. Plus, since you’ve been eating well (click here for some recipe ideas) your body will probably feel like cooperating as well. It’s a win-win situation, and now you’re ready to get our there and succeed.

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Nat comes from a background of cycling and fitness. After eating a regular diet for most of his life, he came accross the vegan lifestyle 3 years ago and has never looked back. Nat considers himself an animal activist, environmentalist and keen cyclist, while promoting the vegan lifestyle along the way. He's now a registered personal trainer, gym instructor and currently working his way towards a Sport, Fitness and Coaching degree.

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