Mindfulness techniques such as meditation have become incredibly popular as a way for people to better organise their thoughts, manage their mental health, and create some much-needed headspace.
As a professional footballer, you may have heard about apps and services that allow you to practise such techniques, and are now curious as to how they could help you.
So, find out how meditation and mindfulness can help improve your physical and mental wellbeing, improving your career and, ultimately, your life.
1. You may be able to improve your mental health
The first way meditation and mindfulness could help you is in promoting good mental health.
A study published on the National Library of Medicine website found that meditation could improve symptoms of depression.
Similarly, according to research conducted by meditation app Headspace, using the platform for just 10 days led to increased positivity and wellbeing.
The importance of maintaining your mental health as a professional footballer is paramount, both in managing your money and performing at the highest level on the pitch.
As a result, finding methods to build good mental habits is a worthwhile thing to do, and evidence suggests that meditation and mindfulness techniques can go a long way in helping.
2. You can reduce feelings of stress
Just as poor mental health can harm your ability to perform at your best, stress can be equally damaging.
Stress can distract you from the task at hand, while also having a range of worrying physical effects. According to Healthline, this can include:
- Increased risk of depression
- A weakened immune system, making you more vulnerable to sickness
- Raised blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart attacks and strokes
- Tightened muscles.
These symptoms could certainly affect your ability to play at your best. Fortunately, you may be able to use meditation to relieve symptoms of stress.
A Headspace study assessing the app’s impact on stress recorded a 14% reduction in such sensations in as little as 10 days of use.
Cutting your levels of stress to improve your physical health is surely a good investment in your career.
It may also be a good way to protect your family. Being unwell and unable to play football could limit your years of earning at the highest level, affecting the lifestyle you and your loved ones are able to enjoy.
Meanwhile, by using mindfulness techniques to reduce your stress and protect your health, you might be able to squeeze a few extra years out of your body.
3. You may be able to focus more
Another benefit found in research of meditation and mindfulness is offering a greater level of focus.
You no doubt know the feeling of needing to focus on a particular task, whether that’s in the gym or on the training field, but finding your mind drifting onto other unnecessary thoughts.
Meanwhile, according to research in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement available on SpringerLink, using the Headspace app specifically could reduce the amount of time spent lost in trains of thought like this, improving focus by 14%.
That 14% could be the difference between switching off in training, or even on matchday.
4. You could be more effective at work
Professional football is an intensely rewarding job, but it can also be draining to keep at your highest level of performance all the time.
This can lead to job strain, and even remove the satisfaction you feel from doing what you love.
Available on the American Psychological Association website, a study using the Headspace app observed an improvement in job strain and workplace social support.
Meanwhile, separate research available from the National Library of Medicine studied the effects of practising mindfulness on novice nurses.
Despite their difficult and draining occupation, the results showed a decrease in burnout and reactivity to events, while simultaneously finding an increase in compassion, satisfaction and awareness.
This all suggests that you could improve your relationship with your job by meditating and using mindfulness techniques, reigniting your love for the game and giving you the passion you need to push yourself to be your very best.
5. You might sleep better
It’s obviously important to sleep well as a professional sportsperson, ensuring you have enough energy to train and perform to the highest levels possible.
Indeed, legendary Manchester United and England forward Wayne Rooney told FourFourTwo in 2011 that he would “try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, plus an hour or two in the afternoon”.
That’s why it’s interesting to note the evidence that shows how meditation and mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on your ability to sleep.
Evidence published by Healthline shows that individuals with some form of insomnia stayed asleep longer after meditation. It also notes that mindfulness exercises can relax your body, further assisting sleep.
Meanwhile, more research from the National Library of Medicine indicates that meditation can help improve sleep quality for individuals who don’t even have a pre-existing sleep condition such as insomnia.
If you’re struggling to get to sleep before an important match, consider trying some meditation and mindfulness techniques to see whether it can help you put your racing mind to bed.
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