Is Stress Holding You Back?
Is stress holding you back?
Is Stress Holding You Back? – Mindfulness is a powerful tool with the ability to allow for healthy weight management,1 optimize athletic performance,2 viably treat insomnia,3 promote healthy aging,4 significantly alleviate physical pain,5 and significantly reduce cortisol.6 Studies have shown significant increases in athletic performance in elite level athletes by the use of mindfulness in as little as 3 months.7 Mindfulness focuses on present moment, non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of one’s internal state and disposition. When mindfulness is achieved in elite athletes during competition, we say they are “in the zone”. This is also referred to as “flow”.8
One of the main obstacles that hinders “flow” is rumination.8 According to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, rumination is “compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to it’s solutions.” According to Nolen-Hoeksema, rumination can be diminished with distraction . According to Nolen-Hoeksema, while women tend to ruminate more when they are depressed because men tend to distract themselves.
Emotional regulation is a key component in mindfulness and in optimizing athletic performance.9 Athletes who have difficulty controlling their emotions also have difficulty focusing and dealing with stressful events. Emotional intelligence may be the most important factor for happiness.10 All this being equal, happy athletes are successful athletes. They have the ability to be introspective and honest about themselves. Using every set back or victory as a piece of data which they can use to improve. Emotional intelligence and mindfulness become the main components in athletic optimization after the physical component is maximized. The main job of coaches and trainers of “elite athletes” is to assist the athletes in having the proper mental component. Mindfulness will allow you to enjoy, rather than stress over athletic competitions and practices. However, the real stress reducer is preparation. Mindfulness will optimize your preparation by allowing you to live well and enjoy life. This will optimize your workouts and performance.
Mindfulness cannot be used only during workouts and practices, it needs to be done as a way of life.11 You have an opportunity to enhance your development 24 hours a day. It goes beyond exercise, sleep, and nutrition. These things are all affected by your mental state. If you just try to be mindful during workouts or competitions, you are missing the point of how mindfulness works. Mindfulness can effectively be attained by allowing the athlete the proper understanding and introspection using cognitive methods that point to proper mental attitudes. In doing so properly, the athlete’s mind can be freed and the development of “flow” can be attained.
Athletes need to be taught to practice non-envious, forgiving, niceness. They should cooperate with others while at the same time, competing to be the best . Mindfulness can only be attained when the mind is free of rumination and focused on the present.
Do not live in the past. It has already happened and there’s nothing you can do about it. Do not spend your time living in the future, it’s coming regardless of what you do. Live in the present, it is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.
I look forward to your questions and comments. In the next article we will discuss athletic and life long fitness goals.
1.Dalen J, Smith BW, Shelley BM, Sloan AL, Leahigh L, Begay D. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary therapies in medicine. 2010 Dec 31;18(6):260-4.
- Birrer D, Röthlin P, Morgan G. Mindfulness to enhance athletic performance: Theoretical considerations and possible impact mechanisms. Mindfulness. 2012 Sep 1;3(3):235-46.
3. Ong JC, Smith CE. Using Mindfulness for the Treatment of Insomnia. Current Sleep Medicine Reports. 2017 Jun 1;3(2):57-65.
- Fountain-Zaragoza S, Prakash RS. Mindfulness Training for Healthy Aging: Impact on Attention, Well-Being, and Inflammation. Frontiers in aging neuroscience. 2017;9.
- Zeidan F, Adler-Neal AL, Wells RE, Stagnaro E, May LM, Eisenach JC, McHaffie JG, Coghill RC. Mindfulness-meditation-based pain relief is not mediated by endogenous opioids. Journal of Neuroscience. 2016 Mar 16;36(11):3391-7.
- Daubenmier J, Hayden D, Chang V, Epel E. It’s not what you think, it’s how you relate to it: Dispositional mindfulness moderates the relationship between psychological distress and the cortisol awakening response. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Oct 31;48:11-8.
- Sappington R, Longshore K. Systematically reviewing the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for enhanced athletic performance. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. 2015 Sep;9(3):232-62.
- Scott-Hamilton J, Schutte NS. The Role of Adherence in the Effects of a Mindfulness Intervention for Competitive Athletes: Changes in Mindfulness, Flow, Pessimism, and Anxiety. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. 2016 Jun;10(2):99-117.
- Chiesa A, Serretti A, Jakobsen JC. Mindfulness: Top–down or bottom–up emotion regulation strategy?. Clinical psychology review. 2013 Feb 28;33(1):82-96.
- Gilbert D, McKee A, Spreitzer G, Amabile T. Happiness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series). Harvard Business Press; 2017 Apr 18.
- Savory DJ. Mindfulness Program for Student Athletes.