Hero Complex and Mental Wellness

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It has been a little more than a year since I last wrote a blog. In my defense, I believe I was busy being a hero- flopping my proverbial cape and saving the most vulnerable youth in our society.  Each time I ascended, people would look at me and lives would be positively impacted and once more I used my powers to write HOPE in the clouds and give young people something to look up to and be empowered. Yea me! Supergirl!

With Heroes Week on the horizon and Mental Health Week on our hands, I decided to open the lead box , reveal the kryptonite and become a bit vulnerable. Being a hero is fun, you get a chance to change lives, to put smiles on peoples’ faces, to give people a second chance and to bring hope. That’s the good part, because as a human being, you feel fulfilled and sometimes like your life has some real purpose. I see other young heroes like myself and watch in amazement as the work they do is recognized and rewarded with trips and money and awards and it does two things. 1. It inspires me to continue working harder as I see that there is still more to do. 2. It demotivates me, as some of these people do very little and are rewarded and are given major opportunities to impact more lives and I am over here like- Bruh!

This hero duty isn’t for everyone  and I recognize that. I do it because I love it- but it gets heavy sometimes. Sometimes the proverbial cape seems to materialize into a heaviness felt in the heart when you have been dealing with people who have many issues and you have no one to turn to for help.It gets heavier when you are doing all you can and it isn’t enough or the support isn’t there to make things happen.

It gets lonely when your contact list is filled with associates, professional contacts and people you help and no one to just call and say hello to (except of course, your mom- who you totally have a co-dependent relationship with and heaven knows that’s not healthy), because your 2 friends are superheroes too and are busy saving the world.

Being a hero isn’t about being a hero for everyone else, but being an advocate for yourself first then for others. Being a hero is acknowledging your feelings, recognizing that you can’t help everyone and avoid things and people that make you sad. It has been over a year that I have been battling major depression and anxiety. One thing that has been giving me major panic attacks and insomnia among other things is writing! Can you believe it? Before I was a lazy writer. I wrote when I felt like and would let neurosis kick in that the content wasn’t good enough etc. Now, thinking of writing makes me sick. Blame it on repression and other things Freud would have the answer to.

So being a hero for myself starting this week is enrolling in therapy, doing things I used to find fun and  doing things that need to be done- even if they make me sick for a while- like  writing ( even if it sounds like babbling for now and follows no writing rules or have no scholarly sources to support my claims).

I hope you will join me on this journey to mental wellness, overcoming fears and more while I continue this hero mission…

 

 

Clarendon Youth Groups Impacting Jamaica

Clarendon Youth Information Centre

nice peopleWhile scrolling on Facebook yesterday, I stumbled on a quote that struck in a very deep and personal way as it resonated the sentiments and morals I had gotten from a story I read a few minutes before. The quote read “There world is full of nice people , if you can’t find one be one.

The story was about a scared little mouse who was losing his mind when he discovered that the farmer had brought a mousetrap home and placed it in the house. So frantic and uneasy was he that he ran around telling all the farm animals he could find about his plight. He told the chicken who clucked at him and told him that his plight was none of her business, the goat offered his prayers and his sympathy and the cowed dismissed him harshly. Frankly, a mousetrap in the house was of no concern to…

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Mental Health Matters

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He is just in his twenties and he has already lost his mind.”

I remember moving as a child and meeting my new neighbours. One person who made quite an impression was the young man who lived in the big house behind me. He was always pleasant and kind and a broad smile would emanate whenever he saw someone. He sang beautifully; his clear tenor tone would awaken sleeping emotions in the otherwise still and quiet village.

A few days later I saw him- there was no smile. His voice was harsh as he shouted and chased Annie Palmer, his villain. He was arguing with someone beside him, whom it seems only he could see. He spoke of things too bizarre even for a child’s imagination, as he held discourse about marrying God’s only daughter.

The next day he seemed stoic. He appeared dazed, lost and cold even though the heat was sweltering. I was mesmerized by the things I had seen.  I was hypnotized as I was wrapped up in my thoughts that were about what he may have been thinking.  It was then that I asked my mother what was wrong with him and she said those words, “He is just in his twenties and he has already lost his mind.” “Doctor say him schizo and the medicine will tranquilize him.”

What does Schizo mean? How did he catch it? Could he get better? Those questions racked my mind and it was at that point I wanted to be a doctor that would cater to needs like his. I wanted to understand the mechanism of his illness, as the answers I got from my elders weren’t satisfactory.

“Is duppy de pon him”, “Is the sins of him and his generations cause it”, “Is because him take up the world on him head” were some of the reasons I got from my elders which got me searching for real answers. Some 15 years later, I am still not a doctor, but I am in the helping profession with a specialization in mental health.

I now know what schizo is. It is short for schizophrenia, a mental illness that causes delusions which is not the sole cause of unusual behavior in persons. I now know that there are a range on mental illnesses and they are all on a spectrum, as they all range from mild to severe and they are NOT contagious.

I also know that my elders were wrong. Mental illness is not due to demon possession or a result of sins that one or their family members commit. It is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors.

I can now inform people that mental illnesses happen at all ages and stages in life.  Autism, ADD and ADHD are mental illnesses usually first diagnosed in children. Anorexia and Bulimia affects mostly teenagers, especially teenage girls and Alzheimer’s affects older persons.

I have learned that these illnesses can be managed naturally or with the aid of prescription medication. I can tell persons the importance of good mental health practices and some ways in which we can cater to our mental health needs. Jogging, listening to soothing music (Evanescence doesn’tmental health help) and talking to someone who we trust can give our bodies a ‘proper sort out’ that will release endorphins that will have us feeling good.

Think about it… How do you take care of your mental health?

February Healthy Challenge!

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For the New Year, I got caught up like many of you. Making plans to adjust aspects of my life that will enable me to be a better person. Somewhere in that euphoric state I felt motivated to be healthier. Yea me! Well, I think I’m healthy… I eat well most of the times, I take my preventative inhaler when I remember and I have a super athletic body! So you may ask, “What’s the problem?” or say things like, “This should be easy for you!” Folks I have bad news, the Environmentally Conscious Consumer Operations’ February Healthy   Challenge started February 1 and I’m already doing horribly, I hope reporting to you helps me to be more dedicated.

Here goes: The journey to a cleaner, greener you starts now. This month we invite you to try forming new healthy habits. By changing the way you look at food, the way you exercise and view the environment we hope this journey will transition you to a new person.

We will focus on a new healthy eating routine, new exercise routine and cost savings ideas to help you save when you dine.

This month:

  1. Meatless Mondays is a globally recognized movement to help persons live healthy through the food choices we make. One day per week go meatless.
  2. Green Your Lunch – a sure way to help you save money is to prepare lunch from home. 
  3. Exercise – at least 20 minutes per day

By challenging yourself to try new things we believe you will begin to live healthier lives and you deserve it.

Challenge 1: Meatless Mondays 

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I don’t know about other cultures or fancy people, but rural folks in Jamaica have a thing they refer to as, ‘Sunday-Monday’. It’s Sunday dinner that is left over for Monday’s breakfast, lunch or dinner or all of the above and it usually tastes better. I don’t love to cook all the time and Monday is usually lazy day. So I think the struggle is real to switch from tasty Curried Goat or Brown stew  oxtail, to steamed vegetables on Mondays. However I will do it ! I am not a quitter!

Challenge 2: Green Your Lunch

This will probably be the easiest part because I love fruits and vegetables mixed with animal protein prepared in sumptuous ways. The truth is, most of the lunch we buy at the cooks shops around the corners don’t taste as good as our cooking, but laziness takes precedence. Making lunch means getting up earlier but I don’t mind and I’ll share my recipes with you.

Challenge 3: Exercise at least 20 minutes per day 

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My University Hall/Grub name alluded to my flexibility, kick boxing, swimming, table tennis, lawn tennis and track and field helped to maintain it. However since I finished University,I pretty much eat ice cream for breakfast very often and exercise is very seldom. So my Zoe Saldana body is pretty much attributed to good genes and a fast metabolism. I tried scrubbing my  feet the other day and had the pains after. A testament to my extreme unfit state! I start this challenge officially tomorrow.

Think about it as something fun we can do together that is definitely worth it. Will you join me?

Happy New Hair!

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Well, today is the Chinese New Year, so I can safely say the words without feeling too badly. I have been kind of a delinquent lately and one of my resolutions is to be more consistent in my writing and publishing. My computer crashed and blogging on the tablet is a little different. Anyway, enough yapping about me.

I will be undertaking some new projects this month so my blogs can be as diverse or even more diverse than before. Some may ask, “Codymsanii, what have you been up to?” and I can confidently reply that I have been doing hair. 🙂

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I took The Hair Lover’s Challenge and switched to Ettenio’s  Mango Shea Moisturizer and their Seal and Shine and my hair is grateful and has grown two more inches since. Apart from daily maintenance of my hair, I’ve helped my cousin to transition from damaged relaxed hair to healthy natural hair.

However, I have realized that finding styles online for short hair is very difficult as afros and twist outs are the most popular choices. Since those aren’t allowed in some schools or workplaces and the hot Jamaican weather isn’t very merciful on exposed hair , I got creative

Here are five cute styles to do on short transitioning or natural hair. Hope you like them.

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Lovely BraidsImage

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Twisty Pompadour

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School Girl Swag

Top 10 Reasons Why Weaves Are A Necessity

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It is already happening and for those of you who are yet to experience it, don’t be too alarmed when you do. It is not so unusual to see women in the wholesale ordering their  list of “necessary”  items and hearing something like this,  “Mr. Chin, sell me 5 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of rice, 5 pounds a sugar, 10 pounds of chicken back, 6 tins of mackerel and 3 packs of hair!”
A recent article in the Jamaica Observer, highlighted the expenses of Jamaica’s hair import bills and has estimated the cost at almost 1 Billion dollars over a 4 year period. Dr. Veronica ‘Ewurama’ Reid of Beautiful Earth Jamaica described false hair as a staple and not a necessity.  Well, from what I have seen it seems like a necessity,  so here are my top 10 reasons why false hair can be considered a necessity by the people who wear them.

1. Enhances Beauty – Many Black women know they are beautiful and having long hair would only amplify that beauty. Ignoring all Eurocentric remarks, I can safely say many of us are not blessed with bra strap length tresses. So thanks are often given to Remi, Yaki, Milky Way, “Neigh-Neigh” the horse and plastic, for allowing them the opportunity of experiencing long hair. Special thanks to the wind and the battery operated fans for adding the dramatic effect as we strut our stuff.

2. Confidence– I can speak from personal experience that I feel more confident when my hair is clean and nicely styled. Confidence allows one to feel better about themselves and their efforts and can even aid in motivation and interpersonal skills and if hair can do that, I’m all for it.

3. Good Hair Days Always– Uh! Bad hair days, I know all about them and   they kick start your day the wrong way. Wigs , braids, weaves and extensions do not require that much attention just spray , brush and go. As long as they are done properly and stay in for the correct length of time you are good to go and bad hair days become a thing of the past.

4. Protective Styling –  Some women really want to stop buying false hair, they go to counseling for their “Weave-addiction” and others make it their new year’s resolution.  So they decide to keep the hair on their head and allow it to grow long and beautiful.  To achieve this every product company says their products plus protective styling will help to achieve this goal (even the ones that are no good). So the common denominator is protective styling which simply are hairstyles which minimize sun, wind, UV exposure, keep in moisture and doesn’t tug at the hair too much. Weaves and braids have been hailed by relaxed and natural sistahs as an effective way to grow hair. Its an investment I guess,  buy plenty now to stop buying in the future.

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5. Volume Express– I guess it’s hard to find people who are fully satisfied with all their natural traits and the hair is no exception.  Many people who have naturally long coifs complain about the hair being too thin and lacking body. So like Maybelline mascaras, putting in extension give the natural volume people think you were born with.

6. Great Transitioning Medium– Let’s face it. It’s a Natural Hair Revolution going on and I’m happy that is becoming more accepted and people can feel good about their natural features.  So it’s not uncommon to see people who once sported relaxed hair now have a teeny weeny afro, a bald head   or half relaxed and half natural.  The latter they call transitioning, the change from relaxed to natural hair without chopping it off. Weaves and braids provide beautiful protective styles for these ladies and a certain manageability, because dealing with two textures can be a handful.

7.  Attracts the right kind of guy– I was told by a friend that mean stingy men will not want a hot girl with false hair and nails to be their bonafide girl because it  means they will be spending! So the more natural the texture of the weave the more he will have to spend. I was also told that the kind of hairstyles one wears give a sneak peek at one’s personality and will help to ward off unwanted suitors… I don’t know how accurate that hypothesis is, but it is interesting!

8. Versatility–  False hair can undergo a lot of abuse unlike our real hair. Some people want to sport kinky Marley braids this week, then a sleek pixie cut next week and look like Beyonce the next week and false hair allows them to. Whether it is to add volume or hoomph to a hairstyle or to get vibrant colours sans peroxide and dye, people are allowed to celebrate versatility and dynamics just by using hair.

9. It Caters to the Lazy and Tender – scalped– Some people have felt the pains of relaxer burns, hot combs, or an angry Caribbean mother who is fed up with your hair texture and the pain is understood.  Some people just don’t like combing their hair for some reason. Don’t worry, wigs, braids and weaves got you covered so your natural hair can enjoy its vacation… for now.

10. The Master of Disguise
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This use of false hair has not gone unnoticed.  So if you are hiding from people and wish to blend in and look like a nice Jamaican church sister- false hair got you covered.  If times are hard and you don’t want the looks of destitution to be too visible because your hair needs to be done, false hair got you covered- just put on a little make up and nice clothes that can conceal the weight loss or gain. You will have them thinking you won the lotto. Changing your hairstyle to a fresh new look will have people guessing whether you got a new job or a new man.

Think about it, everything in life is about perception,  I have never worn false hair but people think my hair is Remi. If it helps to make you feel beautiful and confident then do it. Just do it properly and in moderation.
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It’s Just Hair!

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My mother used to say that there are certain topics that should be avoided at the dinner table- religion and politics were two of them. She thought such topics were propellants that would get tempers and discussions hot and flaming and since she wasn’t serving any  sort of Flambé, there should be nothing hot and blazing there. The table thermostat was set at warm- to accommodate warm food, warm hearts and warm conversations. In my opinion, one more topic should be added to the list and it is “Hair”, particularly Black Hair.

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How Do You View Rapunzel?

Madam C.J. Walker may have been considered a heroine by many in the “Afro- Haired” community when she introduced the hot pressing comb the United States and the Western World. Some thought the average person could now hold a “beauty transformation tool” in the palm of their hand.  Garret A. Morgan was held in even higher esteem in 1877 when he invented the first hair relaxer and Jheri Redding became a millionaire in the 1970’s,, when he introduced the Jheri Curl to the world.

Back then and even now, in some minds, the ‘kinky-coily’ texture is associated with slavery, poverty, coarseness, lack of refinement, sexuality, rebellion or some affiliation to some form of Apostolic Denomination.

In other minds, relaxed hair means, denying one’s African beauty, trying to be White/Caucasian, condemning the body to harsh chemicals for the sake of beauty, setting bad examples for children, expensive and the list goes on…

But if you are of African descent and have such concepts, your self concept and self esteem should be re evaluated.

But as Mommy said, these topics often start debates and not conversations and in debates, any point put forward can be rebutted.. So here are my 2 cents on the topic.

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Healthy Hair Is Good Hair

Until age 14, I had natural hair and I loved it. I never once felt unpopular, ugly or weird . People would always pass and say to me, “Likkle girl, what a way your hair nice!” and I would smile broadly, because that was probably the 5th compliment that day.  I learned from that age that every hair was ‘nice and pretty’ once it was healthy and styled properly.

My mother had relaxed hair and I never once wanted it. To me, it was “big woman hairstyle”. My pony clips, ribbons and end clips were for school and bubbles and prettier clips were for church. When I saw children with relaxed hair, mommy said that not all parents had the patience, time and skill to deal with natural hair- it was a good answer and in my childish mind- I understood. When mommy ran out of patience, Miss Hellen, my hairdresser would wash my hair and give me “Chiney Bump Hairstyle” (bantu knots). My mother could not corn row and preteen and teenage years were a challenge, twist outs and an updos were her specialties. My hair has a personality pretty much like my own and would break after some persons combed it.  My sister would give me some really beautiful cornrow styles. When work hours increased for both mommy and my sister, daddy took me to the salon to get a relaxer because I couldn’t manage it and unkempt ,damaged hair was not an option.

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From then, until now , I have been getting relaxers and the choice is entirely mine. Until now, I have never once felt White and I am as cultured as they come, never once denying my strong Maroon and French/Cuban roots. Let’s face it, whether kinky, curly, straight, in a weave or under a wig, Black hair will be just that. The maintenance, products, texture, styling methods will never be the same as other ethnicities and we all need to let that permeate through our scalp, through our skulls and into our brains.

I am lazy when it comes to hair and relaxers offer manageability, as my hair takes 2 minutes to style on average. The salon washes and does the necessary stuff every two weeks and at six weeks – the chemicals go in. I moisturize and let the hair be and I won’t sit and get my scalp burned beyond repair- if it tingles, time to wash it out.  Some may say, “That is expensive!” Well, I can’t manage it (whether relaxed or natural) so I let the pros handle it , because I will not be bothering anyone. Let’s face it, all the salons I have been to, natural hair care is way more expensive. Almost twice the amount I pay.

My Organic Root Simulator Moisturizer and my Kera Care Silken seal are all the product I use. The ‘Naturals’ I know have a basket of products and every week forums advertise new products  and tell you to ditch your old ones. These forums tell me that hair oil and shampoo and conditioner aren’t enough and some go as far as to say they are all bad for your hair! My hair was healthy back then too and hair oil, shampoo and conditioner was all I needed. So tell me about expense and money making again! They say these products will facilitate Rapunzel length while we all know terminal length is real.

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Then there is the discussion of damage, don’t get me started.  I see relaxed chicks walking around with hair looking like Goku’s, red and dry from heat and UV damage and lack of moisture. I also see natural chicks with hair looking like Brillo pads, dry and damaged from heat and UV rays and if splits ends were currency, they would be millionaires! To me there is equal damage on both sides.

I follow blogs like Black Girl With Long Hair, Naptural85, Kinky, Curly Coily Me, The Hair Lover and Hair Honey because I like to see healthy hair, relaxed or natural, long or short and I follow these natural sites because I occasionally pick up kids and start taking care of their hair…. Because I am me 🙂

My favourite Blog is “Black Girl With Long Hair“, because it is very informative and features many success stories. In itself, it is a success story because on Facebook alone it has over 239 thousand followers…Not to mention their website traffic and other forms of social media. The site caters to persons with Natural Hair of African descent and most of these females claim to be lovers of Black Culture and all it stands for, liberation, Power etc and I’m all for that. However I am offended each time I read the comments; I am appalled by the degree of hate that people spew out. Someone may come to the site and tell of their experience and once the words “currently relaxed” appear, the dislike button becomes abused. The outpouring of hate towards fellow Sisters is disgraceful, just because the hairstyles are different.

We share the same skin colours, history, struggles, fight for freedom and liberation from societal discrimination… But it seems all of those go through the window.

Think about it… It’s Just Hair! Whether the cause of your decision is personal or influenced by  any religious persuasion; To each her own, and let it not be cause for further division. The Black race epitomizes diversity, so different hairstyles shouldn’t lead to adversity.

Storytelling- ‘The Future’

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It seems to get confusing after a while, as straight lines go through the words like arrows- killing them; striking out what could have been a novel idea… or so you thought. The mounds of crumple paper tell the tale of the story you just can’t unveil.

For some of us, this is due to “writer’s block“, for others, it is a conscious attempt to prevent plagiarism, as the many thoughts that swim around our minds came from some book we have read or film we have seen. Sometimes we just don’t know where to begin or what to continue with, as our brains function as though they are experiencing creative droughts. Recollection of past events and experiences often seem easier, but making our experiences vivid, colourful and alive on paper or even creating fiction from them, tends to be more difficult. Have no fear…

Help Is On The Way!!!

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Self Help Books like, “Anybody Can Write” offer insight on how to get our basic thoughts and ideas on paper in an organized way. That is a great start but it isn’t enough.  High school class notes offer little help as we can only do so much by ourselves and good writing classes are expensive.

Have no fear, help is here! iversity.org is a free online school that offers courses in a wide range of areas from writing to engineering and their Future Of Storytelling course may be the answer to all your writing woes. Working on your own time in an environment that suits your comfort, lectures and advice from top University professors from around the world, group forums to address queries and get feedback on your efforts from your peers and professors is as good as it gets. 

Now that Franz Kafka Prize, seems more realistic!

Think about it, telling stories have long been a way of maintaining culture and shaping the future. Remember we all have unique experiences, so write your part for the script of the years to come.

 

 

Bathing Asafa

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His chiseled body has many females compelled in a drooling trance, his humility has earned the guys’ respect – but sheer loyalty is the reason behind his many fans who remain.

The ‘Golden Boy’, Asafa Powell, one of Jamaica’s most decorated athletes, is slowly fading. He is not spared the harsh words of the Jamaican populous as he slowly advances his rank on the list of “Jamaica’s Most Disappointing Athletes”.

The question was to put 50 young sports enthusiasts from across Jamaica about what they thought was the major problem that affected Asafa, which prevents him from performing optimally. A resounding 94% attributed his failures to lack of confidence and mental toughness. The remaining responses ranged from trouble in his training camp to wide aspersions about supernatural “oil and powder” actions. One lady who donned a multi-coloured outfit and matching wig, remarked, “These last days you get really salt Asafa. Find a “Mother” and mek she gi yuh a bath yah massa!”

What Asafa really needs are some aspects of Sports Psychology and not some ‘Bush Lady’ rubbing down his body.

Being optimistic about the recent controversial test results, we expect to see him back on board, revving and ready to go. When he returns, will he shower us with DNFs, DNSs and mediocre times instead of medals? What can we do to help him? Can he be helped to reclaim peak performances in all races?

Golfer Jack Nicklaus has attributed peak performance to mental preparedness which he thought was most critical. Sports Psychologist Privette, defines peak performance as behaviour which exceeds ones average performance. Research states that 40-90% of any performance is mental, which is why athletes must have their heads in the game. In order to do your best, you must be armed with confidence, mental training and a mental game plan. The skill of the athlete must match with the demand or challenge of the situation. That is where Asafa’s troubles come in, he doubts himself and fears of disappointing himself and others creep in.

Well Asafa and other aspiring athletes that often find yourself “popping down on the wuk”, here a few things to put in your bath that will be a sure mental balm.

  1. Techniques for Disassociation– These techniques take attention away from the demands of the game which helps you to relax. Try thinking positive things to help improve your mood. Try listening to your favourite tunes and do not be afraid to bust out some moves. Ignore the distracters who may say you are following Bolt- If it helps you to perform better… Do it!
  2. Techniques for Association– These techniques helps concentration and allow you to zoom in. Pay attention to your breathing, your pace and muscular sensations. It helps to prevent injuries and helps you to run your own race.
  3. Positive Self Talk- Sounds weird but it works. Tell yourself you can do it. Silver is not that bad once Bolt got Gold. Form a little mantra to pep u up and recite it before you head in.
  4. Be confident– You have a great coach, you train hard and your body is fit. Be confident in yourself, Jamaica loves you. Keeping confident will help to drive the fears away and away for good.
  5. Brains are better with fast legs– If your legs and brain aren’t working together you defeat yourself. It makes no sense your legs are saying, “I can do this” while your brain is saying “Me fraid”, the message of fear gets around and cripples the legs. Keep calm, run your own race, breathe, believe in your strengths and go get them!

Think about it, just adjusting your mental approach may just be the solution to your biggest problem.

References

Williams, J. M. (2006) Applied sports psychology: personal growth to peak performance (5th ed.). Arizonia: McGrath Hill Publishers

Peak Performance for Sporting Excellence- http://www.pponline.co.uk

Peak Performance Sports- Mental Training for a Competitive Edge- http://www.peaksports.com

Tallawah Magazine: http://www.google.com.jm/imgres?um=1&hl=en&biw=1366&bih=610&tbm=isch&tbnid=SJj-Xf909fC9QM:&imgrefurl=http://www.tallawahmagazine.com/2013/01/the-hot-list-jamaicas-10-super-sexiest.html&docid=CrtmpAjvgmXnlM&imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vT1DTgipwIk/UOaAiK4pRQI/AAAAAAAAYVU/-kUwtMDqfpE/s320/Asafa%252BPowell.JPG&w=320&h=275&ei=U8I7UoLcCYTk9gTImoBQ&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:17,s:0,i:126