Sunday, June 16, 2024

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Can We Learn Relaxation From Athletes?

Ever wondered how top athletes manage to stay so calm and focused, even under immense pressure? Turns out, their relaxation techniques are … well pretty unique. You’ll see this yourself now.
Visualization and Guided Imagery
Visualization is a powerful technique used by many athletes to prepare mentally for competition and to relax. This involves creating vivid mental images of successful outcomes. It’s, in fact, a mental rehearsal where you’re seeing, feeling, and experiencing your performance. Athletes like Michael Phelps have credited visualization with helping them win gold medals so it should probably work.
How to use it:
1. find a quiet space
2. close your eyes and picture a serene place or a successful event
3. enjoy a smooth live rosin vape or a piece of a THC chocolate bar to get relaxed and creative
Try this a day before an event you are especially worried about. It’s a mini escape that will make you feel more confident.
Float Therapy (Sensory Deprivation Tanks)
Float therapy involves lying in a sensory deprivation tank filled with saltwater. The environment is dark and quiet. Athletes like Stephen Curry use float therapy to enhance recovery and mental clarity. Studies have shown that this form of therapy can do quite a lot:
1. lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone),
2. reduce muscle tension,
3. and improve overall well-being.
How to use it:
1. book a session at a local float center
2. try a DIY version with a long, quiet soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts
Floating in a tank sounds a bit sci-fi, but it’s incredibly peaceful.
Cryotherapy means exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for a few minutes. Thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo, we know that it helps in many ways:
1. reduces muscle pain,
2. improves recovery,
3. and makes you happier.
That’s because the intense cold triggers the release of endorphins and anti-inflammatory proteins.
How to use it:
1. visit a cryotherapy center for a full-body session
2. try localized cryotherapy with ice packs at home
It’s like an ice bath but a little bit more … tough.
Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra, or "yogic sleep," is a guided meditation that brings you into a state of deep relaxation. It’s a power nap, in fact, but with more mental clarity. This practice involves lying down in a comfortable position and following a guided meditation that leads you through stages of relaxation. It often includes body scanning and breathing exercises.
How to use it:
1. follow a Yoga Nidra session on YouTube or a meditation app
2. join a local class for a group experience
This one’s LeBron James’ personal favorite.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils (no surprises here) to promote relaxation. Maria Sharapova and others use it to calm down and improve sleep. Essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus are especially popular for these purposes.
How to use it:
1. use a diffuser to fill your room with soothing scents
2. add a few drops of essential oil to your bath or pillow
A few drops of lavender oil on your pillow, for instance, can help you drift off to sleep faster.
Here, they insert specific needles into specific points on the body. It’s a traditional Chinese medicine practice that’s been embraced by many athletes (Kobe Bryant included). The needles are said to stimulate the body’s energy flow and promote healing.
How to use it:
1. book a session with a licensed acupuncturist
2. try acupressure mats or tools at home
You may be skeptical at first, but acupuncture really does work.
Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku)
Forest bathing implies spending time in nature, absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest. This practice, originating in Japan, is known for its mental health benefits. It reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood.
How to use it:
1. take regular walks in a nearby park or forest (yes, as simple as that)
2. plan weekend getaways to natural spots
There’s something magical about the forest but we always deprive ourselves of that for some reason.
Sound Therapy
Sound therapy uses sound waves and vibrations to promote relaxation and healing. Serena Williams, for instance, uses it to improve focus and mood. Instruments like singing bowls, gongs, and tuning forks are commonly used to create therapeutic sounds.
How to use it:
1. attend a sound bath session at a wellness center
2. use apps or recordings of sound therapy at home
The vibrations from the instruments create a sense of tranquility that’s hard to describe.
As you see, athletes know quite a lot about relaxation. And so do you now.

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