Anxiety and the athlete
Sometimes we don’t see what is right before our eyes. How many times have we watched the New York, London or Berlin marathon but missed something more than outstanding physical endurance? How many times have we watched the World Cup and only admired the beautiful game and great goals? Or watched world championship boxing, only noticing great technique and tremendous heart? We watch, but miss something that can change lives. Sport helps fight anxiety and this far outweighs winning or losing. This applies from amateur level to the highest professional level in sport.
The power of sport
The beauty and power of sport to transform an anxious mind and body is for all to see. Whether in team sports like football and rugby or solo pursuits like running and martial arts. Like many challenges in life, the pleasure comes after the pain. The effort you put in is equal to the gains you take out. I doubt many people love their first run, the first time in the gym or getting jabbed in the mouth in a boxing ring! Taking positive action and not giving in to the pain brings great rewards.
Sport transforms an anxious mind and body. Action is the key. Action is the only way to overcome mental and physical pain.
You never know how great the food is by looking at the menu. Obvious I know. However the point is worth making and applies to all areas of life. Small steps build momentum. I love a small step, a small step means you have started. A small step means you’re on your way.
The shy athlete
Look at the confidence of Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather , or Christiano Ronaldo. These may be extreme examples of confidence but sport develops confidence at all levels. If you have ever witnessed an amateur 10 km race, before during and after, you will see confidence, energy and passion in abundance. This is the antithesis of the person living with anxiety.
Body and the mind as one
The connection between body and mind is well established in eastern philosophy. Anyone who trains the body knows this connection. Meditation is an amazing tool for quieting the anxious mind. Exercise can be a form of meditation. For example I believe the runner’s high is a form of meditation and demonstrates the connection between body and mind. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger described lifting weights to meditation – the body and mind as one.
Hope comes in many forms
To conclude sport and exercise are vital tools to fight anxiety. I would go further and say it should be integrated in our lives on a daily basis. It relaxes muscles, which in turn relaxes the mind and keeps us living in the moment. After a workout I feel like the future is going to be bright. Positive goals and plans come to mind. Anxiety is a habit ingrained in the body that repeats for no good reason and exercise breaks the cycle of nervous energy. Exercise chips away at the anxiety and builds a subtle confidence in us. We often don’t realise the benefits of exercise until we stop doing it.
Tony Soprano once said “Hope comes in many forms”. Momentum can be built. If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t lift weights, target one press up. Break it down in to manageable chunks. Don’t take my word for it, just do it, see for yourself.