Sian Leah Beilock delivers a TED talk on performance anxiety by leveraging her experience as an athlete in high school and analyzing it through a scientific lens.
As a cognitive scientist, the speaker has conducted ample research that pinpoints the possible causes for "choking" in pressure-packed situations. For one, there is this phenomenon of overattention that serves as a barrier to reaching potential. Beilock and her team refer to this as "paralysis by analysis." As humans, we have a set capacity for attention and some things are best left outside our conscious awareness. It is somewhat ironic that attempting to force the best performance will often leave one with the worst.
Next, the talk on performance identifies the immediate environment as a cause for disproportionate stress that enables a danger of "choking." Sian Leah Beilock speaks of math anxiety as a common phenomenon and the correlation between parental influence and the school subject. Surprisingly, research shows that when adults are worried about math, their children become uneasy about it as well. In a sense, "math anxiety is contagious."
During her talk on performance, the cognitive scientist elaborates on the best practices to address these issues. Beilock suggests that a good way of countering this state of hyper self-awareness is through singing a song, paying attention to a singular thing — like a pinky toe, as well as practicing under the conditions, in which one will be performing. Another great method for confronting the anxiety of an upcoming stressful event is journaling and transcribing feelings onto a blank page to stimulate a cathartic release.
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