Mental health has increasingly become a hot topic in today’s society, and more and more athletes are opening up regarding their struggles. Before competitions, several stresses run through one’s mind regarding their upcoming performance. The most elite athletes can suppress those stresses through meditation and relaxation practices. Being strong mentally is just as important as physical preparation. There are many different practices of meditation that can be utilized, but it can also benefit from understanding what it is and how it is beneficial.
An article written by the Mayo Clinic Staff describes mediation as a “mind-body complementary medicine that produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.” Being mindful of stress and anxiety and focusing on calming the mind will have an optimal effect on sports performance. Studies have shown that focusing on emotional wellbeing can also have a positive effect on many illnesses by not focusing on stress and limiting anxiety. Mental practices should be done just as much as any other form of preparation for an activity.
Just as there are a variety of workouts to get into shape, there are many different practices for meditation and relaxation. It is always good to research different methods of meditation as some of these options may be better applied to athletic competition than others. One of the most common forms of meditation and relaxation is deep breathing. Getting in a comfortable position and focusing on slow, methodical breathing will help distract from present stress and anxiety. An additional step to deep breathing is called progressive muscle relaxation. This is accomplished by tensing and relaxing various muscle groups, allowing one to feel what the relaxation should be. One of the most commonly used practices for athletes is visualization or focusing on success in their performance before actually competing. Along with these, a general massage is also a great form of relaxation by physically working out stresses in the muscles.
As with all things related to performance, practice will only enhance ability. This is no different with mediation techniques. Finding a method that works best for an individual and then mastering it will correlate to improved performance in their sport.