I remember training for my black belt in karate, and doing my very best to prepare for it in a Rocky-style format. I used to get up at five in the morning and run five miles, followed by an hour of intensive shadow boxing and forms. Without getting into the specifics of the test, I knew that I would be facing the challenge of my life, and I wanted to do everything I could to ensure I would be successful.
The last class before the weekend of the test, I attended class and tried to blend into the background, which wasn’t easy considering I stood at the front as one of the senior students. I didn’t speak to anyone about the upcoming test I would be subjected to, over the weekend, as was the custom in our dojo. Test dates were kept private until the student walked into the next class with a new belt colour around their waist.
After that last class, Sensei and I took an hour together and discussed the test and what would be involved. We went over some of the material that I knew I had some mild difficulty with, and I made a point of explaining that I planned on having a light meal and getting to bed early, in order to get some extra rest. Sensei smacked me in the back of the head and spoke three very important words: Don’t. Change. Anything.
Essentially, Sensei explained that despite being faced with a very important and very physical test the following day, I should have the supper I’d usually have. I should follow it up by having the evening I would usually have and go to bed no earlier than I usually would. The idea was that altering my usual routine would cause a disruption in my rest as opposed to helping it, and potentially increase my test anxiety.
Change and variety are good. Of this, I have no doubt and there is no question. But when it comes to facing something out of the ordinary, it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t alter our routines. We need to trust our gut and follow our usual routine. trying to do anything out of the ordinary will only stress and tax your body further and increase one’s anxiety. Stick to what you know. It’ll serve you better in the long run. ☯