Are you flexible?

I'm not asking if you can touch your toes, but can you be cognitively flexible... or flexible with your thinking and ideas?

Cognitive flexibility is the key to good mental health and can improve your performance. Imagine this scenario… you are planning for your big game, the next match, or the race of the year, and you believe that your pre-event preparation and routines are critical to a good performance.

You believe you must put aside at least 30 minutes to go through your race plan/game plan the night before the big event. You also like to eat banana porridge for breakfast the day of the event, and you feel like it helps if you don't speak to anyone in the hour leading up to the event's start. You have taught yourself that this plan and the routine sets you up for being in the "right" mindset.

A solid and rigid plan that helps you feel prepared is excellent if you live in an entirely controllable world and nothing ever goes off plan for you. However, I imagine this is not the world many of us live in… in the real world; things often happen that could get in the way of your perfect pre-event routine. What if you are running late or stuck in traffic and don't get the headspace preparation time before the event? Or the night before your best friend calls to discuss a big issue and

you can't get through the race plan before falling asleep? What if there are no bananas for your porridge???

Well … this is reality.. life throws us curve balls, and sometimes there are no bananas. Hence why, it is helpful to be cognitively flexible. You can have a plan; however, it is recommended that you hold it lightly rather than feeling very rigid about how things play out. If you are flexible, it allows you to acknowledge when things aren't going to plan, and instead of being thrown by the change, you can put your energy into creating a new reformed plan and focus on what matters most at that moment.

So how do you do this? It's simple; when things aren't going to plan, practice letting the plan go, practice getting present and focusing on what is within your control, and forget the banana! The alternative would be to stress that things aren't going how you wanted them to, leading to increased anxiety or frustration and an increase in the hormone cortisol, which may drain your energy or move your focus to things that distract you from your a-game.

When you can take a breath and let go of preconceived ideas, you can focus on making the most of the moment.