I do NOT recommend any kind of medication to deal with anxiety leading up to a meet or for the day of. Personally I do not like anything that messes with my head whether it be for relaxation or for stimulation. These are both mental states that you can train yourself to enter at will, just like lifting trains your muscles to become bigger and stronger. And just like lifting it will require time and effort, but it will be well worth it in the end.

The mental part of the game has become my forte, but it wasn't always that way. In fact I used to get so nervous when I was younger that once I nearly passed out when I walked out on the wrestling mat for a match due to extreme nervousness and fear. All through high school I would get extremely nervous before all of my wrestling matches and football games. It was so bad that often before big tournaments, I would hope for byes through the first round or two because I was freaking out so bad. All week leading up to the meets I would be excited and couldn't wait, but when it got down to the last few minutes before my matches I was so scared that I felt as if I didn't want to be there. One time my junior year I got chewed out by my coach for emphatically shouting "YES!" when he told me that I did have a bye through the first round. He was pissed because he said the team needed my wins for team points and wanted me to wrestle as many matches as possible.

In the Marines I learned how to turn my nervousness into aggression which was a huge step for me mentally. Prior to that I was often too nice when competing and lacked a real "killer instinct," but by the time boot camp was over I had learned how to let my darkside out when it was to my advantage. I learned how to channel the nervous energy into aggression and rage. I continued to hone this skill over my next four years while in the Marines and some of my buddies will tell you that when I got out of the Marines I may have been a bit too aggressive at times. Unfortunately while this worked well for things that required a short burst of aggression, it wasn't so great for all-day competitions like a powerlifting meet. Early in my powerlifting career by the time deadlifts rolled around, I would often be emotionally and physically spent from being too jacked up for too long. I then started working on learning how to relax and calm myself to conserve my energy between lifts.

Over time I became better and better at relaxing myself when I needed to rest and then being able to flip a switch and release my aggressive side when it was time to go to battle. It has evolved to the point where now it has become one of my biggest strengths. I have learned how to perform at my absolute best when lifting in the biggest meets and when I'm under the most pressure.

These are a few of the strategies I have used successfully:

1. When thinking of your competition, only allow yourself to think positive thoughts. Constantly see yourself achieving whatever goals you have set for yourself over and over again. Reinforcing this in your mind will increase your confidence and calm your fears. Fear often stems from a lack of certainty. When we are uncertain of an outcome (especially when it pertains to something that is important to us) it tends to create anxiety and fear which often tends to spiral out of our control. Building our own confidence by constantly reinforcing success gives us a sense of control which will alleviate fear.

2. Practice taking your mind to a calming place. I find water to be very calming for myself so I picture myself near lakes, rivers and oceans when I want to relax my mind. I try to hear the waves, smell the scent of the water and feel its wetness. After time you can get to the point where the sensations become nearly real.

3. Learn to distract yourself when necessary. Find ways to occupy your mind with different forms of stimulation to get your mind off of what is stressing you. For myself reading books and watching movies are my favorite methods of escapism.

These are some of the key techniques I have used to control my mind and be able to perform at my absolute physical peak on demand.

I'm actually in the process of writing a manual explaining these techniques and many more that I have used successfully. When it's ready it will be for sale as an e-book. I will post updates and excerpts as it progresses.