Athletes want to perform. They have to perform. When they don’t, they need to figure out why and how to fix it. The reason behind their limitations aren’t limited to only physical factors. A mental state can make or break your performance. The body and mind are intertwined and they both need to running on all cylinders to achieve optimal achievements.
Most of all, there is stress. Stress can decrease you ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. If your mind is clear, you will be able to tackle it without distractions.
It can also cause anxiety, sleep deprivation, depression etcetera. This is why you need to eliminate that, not only to become the best athlete you can be but also to live a happier life.
Meditation can greatly help in finding balance again. Here are a few reasons why meditation is beneficial for athletes:
- Better, longer and deeper sleep. Sleep is imperative for athletes as recovery takes place during it. Meditation has shown to improve sleep quality as well as decrease recovery time. Athletes who meditate also recover quicker from various illnesses than the ones who don’t meditate.
- Decrease stress levels. Meditation causes lower levels of stress hormones and cortisol, which we know has catabolic properties. When you are less stressed, you also are able to make better decisions as your mind is clear. It can also help you deal with fear so you don’t screw up in the moment.
- More motivation and satisfaction. Research has shown that athletes who meditate enjoy these benefits. You can even bring it into your workouts. Before you attempt a heavy lift, take 5-10 seconds to catch a few calm deep breaths and focus on your body while blocking everything else out.
- Improved endurance by visualization. By combining breathing control during meditation and visualization, athletes are able to push their body harder for a long period of time. Visualization on specific goals and how to get there is a crucial aid in this exercise.
- Get to know yourself better. Meditation improves body awareness. You become more mindful of the different parts of your body, posture, breathing patterns etcetera. It also helps with locating various muscles, which is helpful when you incur an injury or during recovery. By gaining body control, it will also help you manage pain better.
Even if you don’t feel like you need help in your physical goals, meditation will also help you sort out other things such as issues at work, home or others. This in turn will lead to being more efficient and happier, which of course brings a better feeling to the gym. Everything is connected so why not use it to create a positive domino effect.
Athletes do all kind of things to gain those few extra percents of performance. Why not give this a try? It’s healthy, easy and doesn’t cost a thing. It might just help you break through those barriers.
By Sander Vanacker for FitGuana
Sander Vanacker is a personal trainer, CEO of Bring Back Nature, Inc. and founder of FitGuana. He believes in improving health and wellness by incorporating more nature into our lives, being active and spending more time outdoors.