“You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go… Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Your mental health is connected to your physical health like they are two sides of the same coin. Stress and anxiety are phenomena that can take a toll on both your mind and your body.
The best way to get rid of stress is through exercise and meditation. Meditation and exercise can help not just your body, but also your mind.
Having a healthy mind and body is important – especially for athletes. More than half of an athlete’s performance is mental.
If you are an athlete, you know what we are talking about. If you psyche yourself out before a big game, your performance is surely affected. Stress and doubt can cause you to perform poorly in high-pressure situations.
But there is a way for you to fight and win against that stress – through your mind. If you focus on your mental game, you will automatically decrease your stress and anxiety.
The Physical and Mental Link
It is natural to feel nervous and stressed before your big game. And that nervousness triggers other responses of your body like rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, and trouble concentrating. All these things can compel you to make the wrong decision, which can cost you the game.
There is a way you can tune it, and that way is mindfulness.
Here are some techniques that will help you form a mind-body connection:
Tune Out the White Noise
The first thing that you have to do when you step out to the arena is focus on your game and not on everything else. Forget about the outcome, the crowd, or the pre-game jitters. After that, you need to practice mindfulness.
Here are a few ways in which you can train your brain to focus on the game and leave all the other feelings out. The more you practice these techniques, the stronger you will become. Pretty soon, these things will be second nature to you, and that will make you a better athlete.
When you are stressed or overwhelmed, your breathing becomes shallow. You can train your mind to tackle that stress by mindful breathing.
Take a few minutes every day and pay attention to your breathing. Slowly inhale through your nose and then exhale, just as slowly. This exercise will help you calm your nerves. Practice it for a few minutes before stepping into the arena and you will be calm throughout the game.
External and Internal Massages
Emotions have a way of creeping into our thoughts. And when you think negatively, the outcome can become negative as well. Think positive thoughts while playing a game.
The power of positive thinking can make a difference between you winning and losing the game.
Body scan can help you relax and release tension from your body. Lie down on your back and concentrate on each part of your body separately. Release the tension you are holding in that body part and you will be left with a feeling of relaxation and tranquility.
Implement these steps in your next game and you will be calm and composed throughout the match. Here’s to your next win, Cheers!
Written By: Elevate Nutrition Founders, Jillian Salomone and Paul Salomone