April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of managing stress and anxiety in our lives. As student-athletes, we are often faced with a unique set of challenges that can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. It is important to take the time to recognize these feelings and find ways to manage them in order to stay healthy and perform at our best.
As we also celebrate World Health Day, let’s take a look at ways you can relieve anxiety and stress by taking part in a simple physical activity that promotes mindfulness and body strength: MOVEMENT MEDITATION.
Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, including physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. It can also lead to emotional issues such as irritability, depression, and difficulty concentrating. If left unchecked, stress can have serious consequences on our physical and mental health.
Movement meditation involves using physical activity to focus on the present moment and become more aware of your body while calming the mind. This type of meditation can help student-athletes become more mindful of their thoughts and feelings, allowing them to better manage their stress levels. Studies have shown that movement meditation can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue. It can also improve concentration, focus, and overall mental health.
The most common and recognized type of movement meditation is yoga, a practice that combines physical postures with breathing exercises and meditation techniques. It helps to improve flexibility, strength, balance, and concentration while calming the mind. But did you know there are other types of movement meditations that help bring you to the present moment?
Here are 3 types of movement meditation that student-athletes can utilize:
1) Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise originating from ancient China which embraces the mind, body and spirit. It involves slow movements combined with deep breathing techniques. It helps to reduce stress levels while improving coordination, concentration, energy levels and balance. The slow, gentle movements help to relax the body and mind, while deep breathing helps to clear the mind of negative thoughts and worries. As you practice Tai Chi, you become more aware of your body’s movements and how they affect your emotions and thoughts. This increased self-awareness can help you better understand yourself on a deeper level, which can lead to improved self-esteem and confidence.
2) Walking Meditation: We partake in this activity all day long - but may not recognize how you can harness it to help boost your mental health! Walking meditation involves walking with mindfulness, often focusing on the sensations in your body or perhaps the movements of your feet as they go up and down as you walk. Walking meditation can be done slowly or at your regular pace. You can walk in a straight line or a circle. Walking meditation can be very grounding and it helps to increase awareness of your body while calming the mind.
3) Dance Meditation: Throw on your favorite song and bust a move! Dance meditation is a powerful form of self-expression that can help to boost your mental health. It combines the physical and mental benefits of both dance and meditation, allowing you to explore your inner self and find peace.It can be done alone or with others, and it doesn’t require any special skills or equipment. The goal is to use the movements of your body to express yourself, while also allowing yourself to relax and let go of any stress or tension. Ecstatic dance which allows you to simply move to the music freely with no pattern or set rhythm is also a great option.
Moving your body helps to release endorphins, which are hormones that make us feel good. It also increases blood flow throughout the body, which can help reduce stress levels and improve overall physical health. Taking part in these simple movement meditations will help cultivate a sense of connection with oneself and the world around them and lead to increased feelings of peace and contentment.