CAROL'S TOP TEN TIPS // advice on confident communication, body image & pre-race mindset 😇
We were so lucky to be joined by Gold Coast based speaker, author and communication expert Carol Fox last week at our JOLYN HQ. Carol is acknowledged as an Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence and brings thirty years of expertise and experience in elite sport performance to
ensure women eliminate self-doubt and build more confidence. Carol is also a former elite athlete herself in swimming, waterpolo and surf lifesaving!
After Harriet, Lizzie and Jess did a live Q&A on IG about body image, there were so many questions coming in about self-confidence and body image that they simply didn’t have all the answers to. So we decided to reach out to an expert in the field, and there’s no better person to help answer all these questions than Carol Fox! Harriet sat down with Carol for a Q&A to answer all your questions around confidence, body image, pre-race mindset and public speaking. Here are Carol's TOP TEN TIPS from her Q&A👇
TIP 1 • PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Instead of being so self-critical and picking apart your flaws, wake up each day and show gratitude for the things you love about yourself. Here are some of Carol's words of wisdom on how she handles the days when she's not feeling so confident:
"Those days when I'm feeling a little bit bad about my own body image, I change my focus. I change my focus from the things I don't like about my body to 'okay Carol, what you DO you like?'"
Building more confidence is all about practising self-love and finding the good ❤️
TIP 2 • START SLOW & JUST DO IT!
Carol's advice is simply to drop all expectations of yourself and to "start slow and just do it." Carol shared how she recently drew inspiration from her sister Jo Clark, an Olympic gold medallist water-polo player, when it came to her return to swimming again.
"Jo told me that she was back in the water and I got very inspired and asked her 'but how? How do you do that and build up and not get frustrated with yourself?' and she said to me, (so this is an Olympic water-polo player) - 'I hopped in and I did 2 laps, and then I got in and I did 4, the next day I did 6' and each time she went in she added 2 (I don't think it was 2 I think she started with 10), and I'm thinking you know what, if she can do that, then I can be happy with 10."
Carol also expressed the importance of doing something as opposed to nothing, as exercise is incredibly important for our health and wellbeing. So no matter how small your first session back may be, focus on the little things and gradually progressing.
TIP 3 • ALIGN YOUR BODY & MIND THROUGH HEART BREATHING
One of Carol's biggest tips for getting into the right mindset pre-race is to practice a technique called HEART BREATHING. Heart Breathing is a technique where you imagine breathing in through your heart and back out through your heart. This helps align your body and mind to control anxiety and get you out of your head.
Heart Breathing is an extremely effective way to improve your performance. As Carol explained - "we all know that when our mind and body are in line with each other, that's when we perform at our best. Particularly in aquatic sports, all of you know once you're in that flow."
TIP 4 • STAY PRESENT
Pre-race anxiety is real. It's normal to experience a small amount of anxiety before a competition as this allows you to perform well, but it's really easy for it to escalate and start becoming detrimental to your performance.
Carol made one thing really clear - "the only reason I'm anxious, is because I'm focusing on what I don't want to have happen. I don't wanna lose, I don't wanna fall off that big wave, whatever. So what I then need to do is, instead of going out into the future and thinking of all the bad things that are gonna happen, I need to either stay present, grounded, now focused on my breathing, OR, the only time I'll go out into the future is to think about the fabulous result that I'm going to get."
Going out into the future and thinking about the end result after you've finished your competition is a simple ANXIETY REMOVER technique which will help calm your nerves!
TIP 5 • CHANGE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Focus on you. What are you telling yourself? What's your body language like? Carol explained that "if you change your physiology (body language), you'll change your emotional state." Body language is SO important in determining how confident you feel and how you appear to others, such as your competitors.
Carol showed us a powerful CONFIDENCE STANCE, which you can use next time you're lining up for a race or preparing to speak to a group. Check out the interview with Carol on our IGTV to see exactly what the confidence stance looks like! It's also important to be careful of what you're telling yourself as your body language will reflect your internal dialogue.
TIP 6 • REFRAME YOUR THOUGHTS
Carol's advice for building confidence to do something you're not so good at is to focus on overcoming personal challenges and to use a technique called REFRAMING. Reframing is a powerful way to change the way you approach life and the challenges you face.
As Carol said, "what we tell ourselves, we will always find the evidence for it... so why don't we switch our self-talk around?" So every time a negative thought pops into your mind, replace it with a positive one!
TIP 7 • ALWAYS BE GRACIOUS & GRATEFUL
Always remember to congratulate your competitors and the women in your life. Focus on lifting others up instead of constantly comparing yourself to them. As Carol says about her friends and competitors - "I know that the more I give out to them, the more it will come back to me ten-fold, and you know what everyone, it always does, so be really happy for your friends."
When women empower each other we can achieve incredible things. Don't waste your precious energy on finding the negatives in people you don't like. Instead, find the positives and just send love their way!
TIP 8 • WHEN PUBLIC SPEAKING - OWN IT
We get it, public speaking is SCARY. If you feel nervous before speaking to a group of people, you're far from alone. Remember your CONFIDENCE STANCE, HEART BREATHING & ANXIETY REMOVER, and when people are introducing you and telling the crowd all the amazing things about you, OWN IT.
If you happen to be put on the spot and have to make an impromptu speech, you can gather your thoughts by focusing on the past, present and future when figuring out what you're going to say. This is also a really easy way to structure a speech!
TIP 9 • USE THE 'SPINNING EMOTION' TECHNIQUE
This one's for those of you who go bright red when speaking in public. Carol knows exactly what this is like as it used to happen to her, and she has an amazing technique for how to fight it. It's called the SPINNING EMOTION technique:
"You can practice this at home with different emotions. So say my face has got really red and I'm really hot, it's like you take that red hot thing out from you and you notice what direction it's spinning in, and it will be spinning in a direction... so it's red, it's hot, it's spinning in that direction, and then what you do is you imagine it spinning in the opposite direction and I wash mine over with an icy cold blue and I keep going until it goes (disappears)."
TIP 10 • AVOID ASKING "WHY?"
When it comes to approaching a scary coach about something you don't quite agree with, there's one specific word to avoid - WHY. Carol explained that "'Why?' will trigger a defensive response from people, particularly an adult who's not used to being asked why, so always go in with curiosity."
Reframe your question not to include the word "why?". Instead of asking "why wasn't I included in the relay team?" switch it out for "I'm curious, can we have a talk about me not being included in the relay team?" You'll find you'll get a much better response!
To learn more about Carol and the topics we discussed, check out her IG @carolfoxco or head to carolfox.com.