After months or even years of preparation, your pageant week is finally here! You’ve done everything possible to prepare and it’s now or never. At this point mental preparation is what will carry you through. Mental focus and stability is what will set people apart, not their wardrobe or their rockin’ bods. Your real battle is not on the pageant stage; it’s inside your own head. If you undermine your own confidence with negative thinking, all of your hard work will have been for nothing. It is of utmost importance that you maintain a positive attitude and that you are kind to yourself, as you can be your own worst enemy. Here are some tips to keep you focused and shining during pageant week.

Eat right. If you do not treat your body right, you will not be able to physically or mentally perform at your best. Eating during pageant week can be difficult. You may be nervous and tired from long rehearsals, and healthy food options are not always available. No matter what the circumstances, you must eat. Plan ahead, and pack healthy snacks to keep in your hotel room. If you have specific dietary needs, make sure you address them prior to arriving at your pageant. The reality is that the stress of pageant week will likely cause you to lose weight, so do everything you can to nourish your body.

Stay hydrated. If you think you are going to avoid the bloat by cutting back on fluids, you’re wrong. The average woman needs 2.2 liters of water a day for optimum health. Your skin will look more glowing, you will have more energy and your body will be able to perform under pressure if you are hydrated. This is particularly important for those ladies who sing for their talent. You must be hydrated or your instrument will not sound at its peak.

Stay away from gossip forums and online chats. If you visit them, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The people who want to encourage you and cheer you on will do it to your face. Those who want to undermine your confidence and hurt you will do it anonymously in a public forum where there is no accountability. Mom’s this goes for you too. Don’t even learn the web addresses for these websites. They are not important.

Surround yourself with positive people.I like to think that most of the women who compete in pageants, though competitive, appreciate developing lasting friendships and camaraderie amongst other contestants. However, there are always a few bad eggs who feel they need to play head games, undermine your confidence, and perpetuate gossip. Stay away from these women and stick to the girls who can be positive and kind no matter what the circumstances. You should also limit contact with anyone else in your life that upsets you or is unsupportive. This may include an overbearing parent, coach or boyfriend.

Find time for a mini work out. Maybe it’s yoga in the corner of the theatre; push-ups before breakfast, or stretches before bed. Fitting in a little exercise outside of your pageant week activities will help relieve stress, tension and anxiety.

Manage your emotions. Feelings affect our performance and if you tell yourself you’re not good enough to win, chances are the judges will agree with you. Confidence is everything, and you must keep your mind, body and spirit in balance. Your self-confidence is linked to your level of preparation and may be affected by how much you studied for interview, how often you worked out at the gym, whether you maintained a healthy diet, or practiced your talent. You must accept your level of preparation and compete with an “in it to win it” attitude. Remaining emotionally neutral is a key component to performing at your best artistically, intellectually and physically.

Visualize yourself achieving your goal.You must program your brain to believe you are ready and have what it takes to win. There should be no doubt in your mind. This is not arrogance rather it is self-actualization. See yourself interviewing well, performing your talent at its peak in front of hundreds of people, modeling your wardrobe gracefully and ultimately, feel the crown being placed on your head and the tears of joy running down your cheeks.

Take time to relax. Relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, mindful meditation, yoga and tai chi are all effective tools for helping to relieve stress and maintain focus. Find your relaxation outlet and practice living in the moment. The way you performed in the past doesn’t mater. The future is yet to be determined, so all you can do is live for right now. Take a deep breath and enjoy every moment of your pageant experience.

Define your goals. Remind yourself of your specific goals. This would be a great thing to journal about during pageant week. Focus in on why you are competing, what it means to you, and what you seek to accomplish. If your goals are undefined, how can you expect to achieve your desired outcome?

Keep self-talk positive. You know how you are constantly having a silent conversation with yourself inside your head all day? It’s like a broken record that never stops. What does yours say to you. Does she say, “you should have exercised more, you’re not prepared for current events questions, you’re not pretty enough, why would the judges choose you?” Or does she say, “ I’m so proud of the work you have done, you deserve to feel good about yourself, you are ready for this job and you are right where you need to be?” Make your inner dialogue a good one.

Pageants, particularly state and national pageants, are often once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Make sure you take steps to prepare mentally. Think of it as a mental fitness routine. It is just as important as working out, volunteering and refining your interview skills. Many women feel being too confident will read as arrogant or ungracious. There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. Confidence comes from a positive place of being at peace with one’s self and accepting that your best must be good enough at this time in your life. I want you to get the most out of your pageant experience, so be empowered to love yourself and give yourself the tools needed to succeed. If you compete with this philosophy in mind, crown or no crown, you can walk away knowing you performed at your best in mind, body and spirit. That, to me, spells success.

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