Post By: Nastasja Minja | Saturday, May 23, 2020

sport psychology performance STRESS INJURY

Feeling stressed?



Here's something you might want to try out to get those good old vibes back.

The power of MINDFULNESS

I know it's become very popular and that you probably heard of it more than many times. Maybe you have even tried it. The mindful breathing, sitting, walking and of course let's not forget the raisin exercise.

If you don't know what the raisin exercise is, let me describe it to you briefly. You are sitting at the table and staring at this little raisin on your plate. Then you slowly lift your hand and pay attention to how reaching out for that little raisin feels in your arm muscles. You grab it and slowly start to direct it towards your mouth. While you're doing this, you are focusing on the anticipation and the thoughts that are running through your head:

“Here comes the raisin!”

“It's gonna taste sweet. No, sour... but sweet!”

“What if I drop it?! Oh no, I squeezed it now.”

“This is stupid. How is this gonna solve ANY of my problems?”

You observe those thoughts like you would observe the waves in the ocean. They come and they go. Some of them are bigger and stronger and some are barely noticeable. Nevertheless, you don't judge them. Even if you catch yourself judging some of them, you don't judge yourself for judging. You just let the thoughts, judgements and judgements about judgements pass by. Simple, right?

And then you take a slow bite. When I say slow, I mean REALLY slow. You take a small part of the raising and start chewing it and shuffling it inside your mouth. And then you suddenly realize that it's the first time you have actually TASTED a raisin. And it feels well… kind of good.

I still roll my eyes when I attend mindfulness workshops and see “The raisin exercise” on the program. It does feel stupid when you're doing it. But guess what – I don't judge myself for being a diva about this. I become aware of my ego and put a smile on my face instead. But that takes practice.

Let me ask you now…

When was the last time that you actually tasted your meal? I'm not referring to eating like a sloth moving the fork to your mouth in slow motion like with the raisin example, but chewing your food mindfully, enjoying every bite? Or the last time you brushed your teeth that way? Or washed your hair?

What about the last time that you managed to grab a hold of yourself when something caught you off-guard, something that would usually stress you out so much that you would react in a negative way? Instead you managed to notice your thoughts and consciously decide to let them pass by without wearing the judge robe.

And finally, when was the last time you took some “me time”? To just sit down, close your eyes and take a couple of breaths, noticing the air and the space around you. Simply “being” instead of “doing”.

It might not seem that important at first sight. But it kind of is. This is why:

*it brings you back to the present moment – the only place you are truly meant to be

*it awakens your senses – you get to truly FEEL what it means to be alive

*it induces a stream of gratitude – in the present moment you get to see all the things you can be thankful for

*it increases self-awareness – you get to know yourself better; you begin to recognize when ego is behind the wheel

*it chills you out – you learn to coexist with the stress, allowing it to be there and at the same time allowing yourself not to be thrown off balance due to its presence

*it increases your productivity – you have a sackful of energy at your disposal “in the now” that you can consciously use for performance enhancement

*it fuels your emotion regulation capacities – no more dramatic nervous breakdowns; (spoiler alert) with the mindfulness personality upgrade, you won't feel the need for that anymore

*it improves your relationships with important others – it builds a highway from self-compassion to compassion

*and yes – it gets those good old vibes back; probably related to the fact that you get to sleep better at night as well

And now the final question which requires an honest answer:

What are you willing to do to increase your well-being and level up your performance?

Mindfulness takes patience and practice, but I promise you it is worth the go. I stand behind this from personal experience and from those of many others who have changed their lives thanks to the power of present moment. Further, there is a Mindurance sport psychology online coach available to help you with these skills.

I leave you with this encouraging quote for the end:

“Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.” – Sharon Salzberg