In this article:
Bellator fighter Cat Zingano shares tips on how to handle high-pressure situations.
Learn how self-talk can impact your mental health.
Cat Zingano's career brings her to the forefront of television screens and social media discourse constantly. As a long-time Providence partner and Bellator fighter, Cat Zingano knows how important mental health is both in and out of the ring.
Cat is a fighter; she continues to persevere every day, even after having lived through several tragedies. To navigate the trauma of these events, Cat practices several wellness strategies, including working with a licensed therapist. In addition to maintaining her own health, Cat also has a teenage son and prioritizes her role as Mom. She pushes herself physically, but also takes the time to work on her mental health because she knows how important physical and mental wellness are to finding the right balance for herself, her family and her ongoing career success, especially in constant high-pressure situations.
Female athletes are no stranger to public shaming of their bodies, personalities, and performances — Cat Zingano is no exception.
As a female athlete, Cat is well aware of the impact big performances have on your mental health, regardless of outcomes, and shares 7 tips that have helped her handle those high-pressure moments.
1. Vulnerability is power.
"I will never be afraid to ask questions or to admit that I need more reps or information about certain details. The only dumb questions are the questions you didn’t ask."
2. Trust your discipline and dedication.
"I remember that even with the amount of nerves that go into performing, to trust my training and work ethic. My opponent has the same things going on with them. It is just our bodies and minds getting us ready. Meet it with energy."
3. Leave expectations at the door.
"There is no way I can predict exactly how a competition will go. I just need to show up and do my personal best. The outcome will take care of itself."
4. Don’t fear failure, fear regret.
"No matter what happens, I’m always glad I participated, even if it is not the outcome I had wanted. I once heard, 'Don’t regret that you didn’t score, regret that you didn’t play.'"
5. Everyone’s journey is different, and that’s okay
"Not everyone will understand your goals, but you can create healthy space through early communication by telling them things like “when I get closer to my performance, I tend to need to isolate more to focus” or “I will talk to you after my performance, right now I need to put all of my energy in to getting prepared” and thank them for understanding. If you can’t create that space, just know not to take what they say personally or tell them other helpful ways they can choose from to be involved. People need to be taught how to treat you."
6. Recovery is important; no explanations needed.
"You know your body and when you are pushing it too far. Sleep, hydration, quality food, physical therapy and self-care will get you further than running yourself to the point of injury. Make modifications to workouts if needed and communicate what is going on with you. Make sure you give reasons and not excuses."
7. Positive self-talk makes a difference.
"Your brain will believe what you say, and so will the people you speak to. Speak on what you are doing well, on what you want and how you want to feel. Journal what went right that day. Focus on the growth. If you’re injured, focus on the healing. Put the bad days behind you or address them with someone who can help, but make sure to own and acknowledge the good days."
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