5 Reasons Why: Mental Preparation

We all want to perform, and when they don’t, we need to figure out why and how to fix it.  Certain limitations can be physical factors, but it can also be an individual's mental state.  The body and mind are intertwined and they both need to running at full health to achieve optimal achievements. 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.

Taking time to mentally prepare, can greatly help in finding mental balance again.  Here are 5 reasons why meditation is beneficial for athletes:

1. Better, longer and deeper sleep.  Mentally preparing can mean 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.

2. Decrease stress levels.  Lower levels of stress hormones and cortisol, which we know has catabolic properties, can be significantly limited when using mental preparation techniques.  When you are less stressed, you also are able to make better decisions as your mind is clear.

3. More motivation and satisfaction.  Example: 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.

4. Improved endurance by visualization.  Visualize what you want to accomplish.  By combining breathing control during visualization, you can push your body harder for a long period of time.  Visualization on specific goals and how to get there is a crucial aid in this exercise.

5. Get to know yourself better.  Taking time to mentally prepare improves body awareness.  You become more mindful of the different parts of your body, posture, and breathing patterns.  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.