Mental rest and relaxation has been defined as a psychological strategy used by sports performers to help manage or reduce stress-related emotions like anxiety, depression or anger. Physical symptoms like physical muscle tension and increased heart rate during high pressurized situations can also be treated with the right relaxation techniques. In this article we’ll cover how the performer can use different strategies to benefit from relaxation, become a better athlete and improve mental health
Techniques Of Mental Relaxation
High intensity and pressure put on your training can often cause negative impacts of stress and emotions, primarily anxiety. To reduce this ailment there are some techniques of mental rest to try out: transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, and autogenic training.
How do you describe meditation? If it’s not something you’re familiar with, simply explained it involves the individuals focusing on a single thought or object to manage the effects of stress. Many are skeptical to the practice of meditation but the positive effects of transcendental meditation are confirmed in scientific studies and by 6 million people around the world.
So, how do you practice transcendental meditation? You focus on a mantra, a sound, single word or phrase that is repeated over and over that has a personal meaning. It should be done on a silent place with your eyes closed and with deep breathing.
This technique has been suggested to reduce the focus on negative thoughts and also lower HR, blood pressure and all cognitive and physiological changes that could be beneficial in fine-skilled performances. This will also improve your relaxation response in future stressful environments such as at CrossFit competitions or dealing with hard pressurized training sessions.
Mindfulness is a meditation technique that strives for conscious presence and is used today in care and psychotherapy as a treatment method for people living with stress symptoms, anxiety, worry and depression.
You train yourself to observe your thoughts and feelings without evaluating, judging or trying to change them. The goal of mindfulness is to learn to live in the present moment, which is the only thing we can actually influence – what has happened in the past or that will happen in the future is beyond our control.
Mindfulness meditation is an approach that helps develop this nonjudgmental awareness and that promotes calm and focus in potentially stressful situations. Other documented benefits of mindfulness meditation include reduced reporting of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
The difference between mindfulness and transcendental meditation is that mindfulness is all about creating a conscious presence about what is happening around and in everything you do in life while transcendental is about letting go of everything around for a while and resting your focus on the inner self. Both great tools for stress management.
Autogenic training is a relaxation technique first introduced by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz in 1932. Schultz noticed that individuals undergoing hypnosis entered a relaxed state in which they experienced feelings of heaviness and warmth, and he sought to recreate that state in people to reduce tension and anxiety.
How to Practice Autogenic Training:
- Take a few slow even breaths. If you have not already, spend a few minutes practicing diaphragmatic breathing with your stomach instead of your chest.
- Focus attention on your arms. Think to yourself ” My arms are very warm” and “I am completely calm”.
- Focus attention on your legs in the same way.
- Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My heartbeat is calm and regular.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”
- Keep focus on a calm heartbeat and regular breathing.
- Then think to yourself “My abdomen is very warm”
- Enjoy the feeling of relaxation, warmth, and heaviness. Try to keep all other thoughts away.
Other Key Components To Mental Relaxation
- Hours slept before twelve at night are proven to be more effective than those slept after.
- Sleep in the most natural setting possible, with minimal to no artificial lights.
- Wakeup with the sun if possible.
- Fresh air and cooler temperatures help to improve the quality of sleep.
- Water is the best way to hydrate.
- Sports drinks are only needed for before, during, and after strenuous training or completion, don’t drink them simply because they taste good.
- Flavorings, Crystal Lite, and other additives simply give you system more to process and cause it further strain. Stick to adding a lemon or lime.
- Create a meal plan and shop ahead for the week.
- Have healthy snacks readily available.
- Plan ahead for dinner out by helping to pick the place you’re eating and looking at the menu ahead of time.