In this article, you will learn:
- The interconnected nature of mental and physical health
- How to leverage self-love for performance success
- Self-care ideas for you to incorporate daily
When you hear the word “health,” what comes to your mind? Maybe you think of your sprint time, your agility compared to others your age, or the way you eat for mental focus and well-being. Whatever health means to you, we want to take a moment to talk about all that health can mean for those wanting to advance beyond conventional approaches to athlete performance enhancement.
Merging the mental and physical
Some athletes feel like they need to choose between focusing their attention on their mental and emotional health or their physical health. We are here to tell you that this does not have to be the case. Mental and physical health are completely interconnected. So much so, that it is nearly impossible to consider one without the other.
Mental stress' effect on the physical body
It is well documented that emotional, psychological, and social stressors produce a stress response in the body’s biology. This stress response may manifest as inflammation, which is correlated with all chronic illnesses. You may have noticed this in your teammate or colleague who has a perfect diet and movement practice, but can’t seem to lose any weight due to the incredible pressure they put on themselves. Perceived stress is often the most prominent impediment to peak performance.
Physical pressure on mental wellbeing
On the flip side, someone who does not exercise and/or eats a Standard American Diet (abbreviated SAD) is at an increased risk for developing mental disorders like depression and anxiety. When people are training intensely and not supporting their bodies with the nutrition they need, their mental health can decline, which can produce issues with self-image, anxiety, and depression.
That’s why health and well-being start with a holistic approach: one that combines body, mind, and spirit. At SportFuel, we often find that self-care, respect, and love can be powerful motivators for clients looking to perfect their performance and feel better throughout the process.
Self-love for performance success
Self-love might seem like an abstract idea, but ultimately it just involves nurturing your physical and mental self, and choosing habits that fill both buckets simultaneously. For some endurance athletes, this might look like running as a meditative practice that incorporates the healing power of nasal breathing. For others, it might include taking 10 extra minutes to prepare nourishing foods that support their ability to show up more fully for themselves and others.
Coming up with self-care ideas can be tricky for some, especially when it needs to fit between work, school, practices, training, games, friends, maintaining social connections, and attending to the multiple tasks and directions we are pulled in during a single day. So, is it even possible?
Well, the practice of self-love activities looks different for everyone. The importance of the practice is its specificity to you and its consistency in your life.
Before you read further, what’s the first practice that came to your mind when you read the last sentence? Maybe spend some time exploring that, or check out SportFuel’s list below.
Evidence-based self-love habits for your daily routine
- Choose nourishing, whole foods (and making sure you’re getting your daily greens!).
- Exercise and eat consistently on a schedule that is best for your body.
- Incorporate breathing exercises throughout your day.
- Meditate daily (try Insight timer here).
- Journal about your day, and end each journaling session with 3 things you’re grateful for.
- Practice positive self-talk to encourage a consistently positive mindset.
- Try yoga, tai chi, or qigong.
- Explore your creative side—drawing, coloring, crafting, etc.
- Spend time in nature, and leave your phone at home!
- Consider activating your rest, digest, and heal (parasympathetic nervous) system to move out of stress and breakdown (fight or flight, sympathetic) response with NuCalm.
The truth of the matter is that a sustainable and healthy lifestyle begins with you. Our clients find the best success when they are able to connect to their intrinsic or internal motivation for living a healthy life. It’s from here that clients are able to easily and effortlessly create the best solutions to fit their personal health goals.
If you are interested in exploring and connecting with your personal motivation for health and well-being, try SportFuel’s health coaching services. Learn more with a free 20-minute exploratory call. Book here.