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3.3 Assessing Anxiety

TIME: 45minutes plus climbing session.

The first step to dealing with anxiety is recognising it. If we experience high levels of anxiety when climbing, then we are unlikely to be able to develop confidence beyond a certain level.  Lowering anxiety is fundamental to developing climbing confidence, so this is our focus in this module – to develop the physical and mental preparation techniques to reduce anxiety and improve performance.

Our Focus

In this section of the module, we are going to:

  1. Learn to identify anxiety in ourselves
  2. Learn a series of strategies that have been evidenced to help reduce anxiety

Rather than telling you theory and giving you answers, our process is for you to discover what works best for yourself through guided activities. We will then supplement additional information to give you a rounded view of that aspect of the training. You can expect more and more activities that are exploratory as you progress on the training.  Speak to us if there’s anything you’re worried about (remember CORE).

There are three ways to identify stress responses in individuals:

  1. Observation
  2. Self-report questionnaires
  3. Physiological Measurements

Here’s an explanation of these three things from Teachpe.com

Observation: Viewing an athlete’s behaviour before, during and after an event can provide much information about their stress response. Clues to watch out for include shaking, talking fast, regular toilet visits, biting the nails and an inability to stay still.

Self-report questionnaires: Easy to complete although can be open to inaccurate responses. Examples are Martens Sports Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT) and Spielberger’s State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Physiological Measurements: Measuring physiological responses to a situation can indicate a stress response. Measurements such as heart rate, sweating, muscle tension and oxygen uptake can be used although this can involve expensive, bulky equipment.      ”

We will explore the first two.  The third, measuring physiological responses, requires face to face contact and does not fall within this training.

Exercise: Climbing // Identifying Anxiety using Observation // Duration: Climbing session

Exercise: Compare and Contrast // Duration: 10-15 minutes

Using the information you collected from your climbing session, compare with the list below from BrianMac.co.uk, which gives us a list of common cognitive, somatic and behavioural anxiety symptoms.  Reflect on what you’ve found – what’s new to you? What did you know before? What difference does this information make to you?

Source:MACKENZIE, B. (2002) Competitive Anxiety [WWW] Available from: www.brianmac.co.uk

We’ve found this source to give useful information in an easy to understand format.  You can use this to research further if you want more information or information from different sources. 

Exercise: Identifying Anxiety using Questionnaires // Duration: 10 minutes

Using the same website, we can use a self-reporting questionnaire to measure our self-reported anxiety levels.  If we record our results, then over time, we can try to reduce our anxiety score using the techniques that you’ll learn during the course.

Click here to complete the questionnaire

If you feel that you would like a more accurate assessment of your anxiety, this should be carried out by a clinical psychologist or using an online resources such as the STAI.  The STAI from Mind Garden is a standardised ‘instrument for measuring anxiety in adults’.  The cost for a report is around £12.50. Using this type of tool could give you a more accurate view of your anxiety levels.

There is another alternative, available online from the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 2006, 28, 479-501 ©. Their self-assessment is at the bottom of the online document at 501.  The scores from the self-assessment are out of 20, for each category. However, you should be aware that you won’t receive an interpretation of the results, just a breakdown for each category, using their scoring method.

Exercise: Describing my Anxiety // Duration: 15 mins

The purpose of this exercise is for you to use what you’ve learnt to identify your own areas and types of anxiety more accurately than when you started the course. This is a personal exercise and you don’t have to share anything that you’re not comfortable with.  If you’d like to share, using the comments page, then you may do so at your own pace.

Using your journal or notebook, write down what you’ve learnt about the anxiety you experience.  If you want to, you can be specific about where & when you experience the anxiety in relation to your climbing.  You might describe how you experience the anxiety.  

When you’re finished with the exercises, share what you’ve discovered, in the comments, then click next.