Using Self Awareness to Keep Your Adrenaline in Check…

 in London - Sherbourne Martial Arts Academy: SMAA

Using Self Awareness to Keep Your Adrenaline in Check…


What is Adrenaline? The online dictionary defines it as,

“a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress, increasing rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and preparing muscles for exertion.”


Having good endurance and being able to perform at your best for long periods of time is often attributed to experience.  This does not just refer to job embedded skills, it also refers to staying calm so as not to release too much adrenaline into your body, which can also been known as having an “adrenaline dump”.  


Why is too much adrenaline before performance detrimental? Through repeated episodes of high adrenaline, cortisol levels in the body increase and have a negative impact on blood pressure and cardiac function (cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland when under stress).  High levels of adrenaline also attribute to reduced executive function and the maintenance and retrieval of information.  Athletes experience this reduced function through deterioration in fine-motor muscle coordination (refined physical skills), often coupled with tunnel-vision that impedes the athlete’s visual perception. These outcomes will surely not assist in optimal performance.


An adrenaline dump, excessive adrenaline, or an "adrenaline rush" is primarily caused by perceived threats, and the negative effects are often increased by the subjects’ lack of familiarity with the scenario as they envision imminent negative outcomes.  Experience/ familiarity with the adrenaline inducing situation appears to help a person sustain a more manageable level of adrenaline, which in turn can reduce levels of anxiety during stressful encounters.  So it is fair to say that for most people, the less experience a person has in a given stressful situation, the more prone that person will be to higher levels of anxiety and adrenaline.  


The most important aspect to focus on when it comes to your performance capacity is to concentrate on staying neutral (being neither negative, nor overconfident).  Many athletes also learn to relax and capitalize on this mental place while “performing in the pocket”.  This means that the athlete is able to relax under pressure and ignore distractions, dangers, fears, and negative outcomes, while delivering at peak performance.  Experience and practice with managing adrenalin is the key to finding your way to performing in the pocket.


Another important aspect is to remember to breathe - yes, breathe to take in oxygen!  Your muscles work on oxygen, and when under adrenal stress your heart-rate increases to pump blood (and oxygen) to your large muscle groups in preparation for a “flight or fight” response.  In order to supply this oxygen to your muscles while under stress, you must breath at a more rapid (and consistent) rate.  When adrenal stress kicks in, it is a common mistake to forget to breath and supply the body with this vital ingredient - forgetting to breath properly leads to diminished performance, increased tunnel vision, and in some cases, even dizziness or loss of consciousness (yes - you can become wobbly and  “pass out”).  Always strive to remain calm when faced with a stressful situation by first taking in a deep breath of  oxygen to clear the head.  As the oxygen floods your system, your thinking will become more clear and focused, your heart-rate will decrease, and physical abilities will improve.  Try to loosen your shoulders and neck, bend the knees slightly to maintain good blood flow to the legs (prevents risk of fainting), and settle  into a continual and rhythmic breathing pattern. Providing increased oxygen levels helps to reduce the rapid heart-rate and control the overall negative effects of adrenal stress.

Finally, a process called “Visualization” is also a powerful training technique used by many top athletes to improve performance and control mental anxiety. Try spending 10 - 15 minutes alone in a quiet room a few times a week envisioning yourself delivering your best performance.  See yourself in the arena delivering your art and being well received.  Walk yourself through the details of your delivery over and over - if you make a mental mistake in your visual delivery, then correct and redo it just as you would with live training.  Visualize yourself arriving early at your venue and place yourself where you will perform and again walk yourself through the necessary steps you have envisioned that will determine that you are successful.

The techniques above are a few simple things that you can do to help manage the adrenal dump that occurs in every stressful situation.  These situations not only include physical attacks, but may also include stress realized during sports competition, or even during a job interview or classroom presentation.


Whatever the encounter, these basic techniques are key to helping you manage the problem. Understanding yourself and the triggers that diminish your capacity is the key to overcoming them. In martial arts (Jiujitsu, Karate, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, etc.), children and adults learn all these strategies and more, while testing and growing their resolve at every successive training session they attend.

For more on how to keep your adrenaline in check, see the link below …

Request information

Request Information Now!