Practice anxiety: tool #5

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The cake that Tom made for Donna in the future on Parks & Rec for Treat Yo Self day.

The cake that Tom made for Donna in the future on Parks & Rec for Treat Yo Self day.

Treat yo self

Why? Motivation can be difficult enough at the best of times, but when you’re anxious about practice, your motivation has to be strong enough to trump your uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts – no small task! Working out a reward system for yourself that can cater to the differing levels of avoidance you might experience helps you to commit to a practice session and see it through. This is a great time to use a timer – if you practice for x minutes, then you’ve earned your reward!

What? I’ll give a few ideas of my own below, but you should make a personalised list for yourself. It’s great to rank your rewards, and then choose the one that is at a suitable level for the level of avoidance/anxiety you’re struggling with. Rewards don’t always have be big and fancy, Tom and Donna style (Parks & Rec, if you don’t know what I’m on about) – it’s also great to use the things that you most want to do when you feel anxious as a reward. But it’s important to match the reward to the level of discomfort and the length/quality of the practice. Some examples:

1. I won’t check my phone/tumblr/sims until after I do 20mins practice. (This could be low level avoidance, and is a great way to just get yourself started. But it could also be high level avoidance, and you’re absorbing yourself these things as a distraction – use your intense desire to scroll/refresh to just do a tiny bit of practice, and then you’ll feel so much less guilty. Maybe the sense of achievement will give you impetus to do some more…)

2. I can watch an episode of my favourite show after I do 1hr planned practice. (I do a lot of my practice at home, and it’s sooooo tempting to just collapse in front of something fun and mindless. But this is a fairly sizeable reward, and deserves a bit more effort and/or can be used when you’re avoiding fairly strongly.)

3. If I practice 2-3hrs every day for four days I can go see a movie/buy that book I really want/take a half day off to just chill. (Reward yourself for streaks with something a bit more substantial. But these bigger rewards can also be for if you get really low and find yourself having hardly practiced for a week – it happens. Reward yourself big for a restart, that is hard work.)

Some things that don’t make such good rewards… It can be really hard thinking up good rewards. But only fall back on the obvious ones like a chocolate bar occasionally. If you have a regular addiction (coffee…), then that can work, particularly for slog work like scale practice. But I prefer to keep mine non-food/drink related. Likewise, spending a chunk of money every time you want to reward yourself is financially not especially advisable, and may end up feeling hollow.

Do you have any more ideas of how you like to reward yourself? Hit me up!

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