The advantages of psychology

 Jatta - Performance Psychologist at Move Freely 

Jatta - Performance Psychologist at Move Freely 

The advantages of psychology As an ex-elite athlete in synchronized skating I’ve loved watching the 2018 Olympics. However, it’s been a slightly bitter sweet experience as synchronized skating was not accepted into these Olympics due to ‘accommodation issues.’ Nonetheless I’ve loved hearing the British athletes describe how important psychology is in their sports. In British sports things are clearly done the right way and the athletes work continuously with a sports psychologist who follows them from competition to competition, to ensure the best performances. When comparing Britain’s success and professionalism to a country which used to be excellent at the winter Olympics, Finland, there’s a stark contrast. In the last few years Finland’s performance has deteriorated and the athletes underperform constantly. One big reasons for this is that the Finnish athletes don’t systematically work with a sports psychologist. It’s absolutely crucial for an athlete to continuously work on psychological skills which add so much to an athletes training, performance and success. For example, if an athlete or a performance artist for that matter is injured he/she doesn’t just have to rest in the side-lines and wait for recovery. They can actually train psychologically as effectively as they did prior injury by using a psychological skill called imagery. Not investing in these psychological skills gives a big advantage to your fellow competitors. The same applies to other industries as well. For example, politicians, actors, dancers and CEO: s struggle constantly with fatigue, stress, anxiety and the effects of continuous travelling. Although Finland is behind in sports, it’s ahead in taking care of their companies’ employers’ and employees’ wellbeing. Finnish companies regularly employ psychologists specialized in enhancing their performance while also caring for their wellbeing. This is very surprising considering that there’s no education for this in Finland and the psychologist have acquired the relevant knowledge through experience. It’s even more surprising once you find out that the only place where you can actually get a qualification to enhance professionals’ performance and wellbeing across domains is at the University of Edinburgh, in the whole Europe. This quite a new qualification is called performance psychology, which offers a holistic and therefore, superior option to other similar domains. For example, I once worked with an actor who was suffering from anxiety, performance anxiety and self-confidence issues. While it was important to explore where her problems stemmed from, the things that actually helped her with everyday life were psychological Blog Post Jatta Muhonen 23.02.2028 enhancing techniques such as breathing techniques, mindfulness and self-talk, which ‘normal’ counselling psychologists don’t often work with. In another instance, a creative director of a company explained to me that she was suffering from high stress and felt like she was unable to control her own time. When I suggested that she should change her sleeping habits and sleep approximately 7-8,5 hours per night, she told me that John F. Kennedy only slept 4 hours per night and therefore, she doesn’t need more sleep either. However, I had to remind her that the Kennedys had a private doctor who gave them vitamin shots every day as well as illegal drugs to help them cope with the workload. The next time I saw her she told me she had taken up my suggestion and now feels much more relaxed, focused and effective at work. Of course, it took much more of consistent work over the next four months to actually make her completely healthy. However, in the end she felt happier, healthier and more productive. That’s exactly what it takes, continuous work over several months. Nevertheless, continuous individual work in itself is not enough, as efficient support and guidance is crucial while working on wellbeing and performance. For instance, once an author told me he only needed two sessions to improve his psyche. I did my best and created a specific plan for him. However, after a few weeks of him trying to implement changes into his life by himself, he requested several more session. During the ‘change process’ things develop and adjustments and additions into the plan might be needed. As we’ve seen from the British athletes, there’s so much psychology can offer and it really does help if you are willing to work on your ‘issues’ or areas of development long-term. However, if the British athletes as well as other performers and professionals were really smart they’d turn into performance psychology as it offers a superior method for wellbeing, performance and success.