When many people think about improving their physical capabilities and performance, they envision intense training sessions and gradually pushing their limits. While this is certainly one portion of conditioning, there is more to improving your athleticism. Rest and recovery are essential to the training process, and learning how you can implement better resting practices will play a significant role in achieving your desired improvement.
Here at SWatson Solutions, we are dedicated to providing athletes and fitness enthusiasts with the guidance they need to better take care of their bodies and minds. Guided relaxation is one of the most important techniques we offer, and it comes with many benefits. We find that for those athletes who face incredible pressure and struggle with maintaining peak performance, guided relaxation techniques go a long way to helping them get a better grip on their game. This phenomenon of struggling with balancing your emotions and staying focused during intense pressure is referred to as Athletic Arousal in the context of athletes.
For some guidance in managing Athletic Arousal and ensuring that you can maintain a balanced mind and body during the toughest moments, check out some tips from SWatson Solutions, and learn how you can make the most of guided relaxation.
The Pressure is On
Imagine…it’s your college soccer team’s championship game and you are down 1-2 with 3 minutes left in the match. It’s a corner kick, the last chance your team might have at tying it up, and you – the striker – are waiting to make a run into the box. The referee blows his whistle, and you sprint to the top of the box, just as your team had planned out beforehand. The ball makes its way in at a blistering speed, you jump with your body arched, aiming to head the ball in, and then… your forehead misses the ball and zooms straight into the goalie’s hands. The ref blows his whistle three times, and that’s game.
Afterward, you would be reasonably stunned. “What happened?” you think to yourself. You had practiced that drill so many times with your teammates, so how could you miss the perfect header by just inches? What most likely occurred, is that you were over-stimulated and knocked out of complete focus. The pressure got to you, and even though you felt prepared with all of those drills behind you, your anxiety in the moment caused you to lose control of the situation.
This is an incredibly common occurrence and is a part of competing and handling high-stress situations. When discussing your mental stimulation within sports and fitness, we use the term athletic arousal, and it is one of the many skills you must hone, in order to improve your performance.
What is Athletic or Sports Arousal?
Athletic arousal, also known as sports arousal, is the level of mental energy and focus that your mind creates for your body to use during athletic or sports performance. Your overall performance is derived highly from your mental state at the time, and whether your level of arousal is balanced. The degree of arousal needed for peak performance is different depending on the individual, so understanding how it feels to be in your peak performance mindset is essential.
Although it is difficult to identify what a great athletic mindset feels like, one way that you can perceive your levels of arousal is by balancing under-arousal with over-arousal, in order to reach a more balanced mindset state.
Balancing Levels of Athletic Arousal: Reaching the Best Mindset in Sports
Balance and moderation are some of the most important concepts when you are looking to achieve efficiency in any area of your life, sports included. So, when you are considering what your peak performance state is, you want to learn how you can balance your level of over-arousal and under arousal. While you may have already unconsciously made these observations before, we want to help guide you along the path of identifying these states purposefully and making intentional changes for your benefit.
Here are some ways that you can tell if you are over-aroused or under-aroused.
Over Stimulation – When Athletic Arousal is Too High
When you are feeling overstimulated, too hyped up, or over-aroused, your muscles will tense up, you will find it difficult to focus, your attention will switch to multiple elements quickly, and your coordination will decrease. All of this results in anxiety, including effects such as breathing too quickly, which will almost guarantee that you make a misstep. One moment when the level of athlete’s arousal will feel overstimulated is during the last few minutes of a big game, or any other time when they are under immense individual pressure.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and over-aroused, here are a few great techniques that you can turn to:
Listening to guided meditation – You may hear people say, “try to relax” and that can seem like an oxymoron, but truthfully, achieving a beneficial state of arousal for athletes will require practice on your part. Thankfully, guided meditation is a great way to receive assistance on your journey to relaxation. Guided meditation audio can help put your mind at ease, and you can later follow these steps on your own.
Slow, deep breathwork – Breathing too quickly is one of the key signs of over-arousal. You can put your body into a more relaxed state by making a deliberate effort to control your breathing. Slow, deep breaths can help bring your heart rate down, and the deliberate effort on your part can also help focus your mind on something else than the pressure at hand.
Progressive Relaxation – this is a technique that involves focusing on key parts of your body and contracting and releasing them, leading to a feeling of relaxation and release. Achieving this effectively can be difficult, luckily our guided relaxation audio can start you into this practice.
Positive Reassurance – When the pressure is getting to you, your mind is your biggest enemy. However, it can also be your biggest ally. Try to take control of the situation and give yourself positive reassurance through your inner dialogue. Reassure yourself of all the work you did to get here, that you deserve to be here, and that you know how to overcome the obstacle in front of you.
Imagery – Outside of inner dialogue, also consider mental images that can take you away from the hectic atmosphere. Athletic environments can be full of noise and large crowds, with bright lights shining and a heavy atmosphere. Imagine yourself in a more serene environment, picture yourself achieving your goals, and try to put your mind at ease and focus on the task at hand, not the pressure involved.
Under Stimulation – When Athletic Arousal is Too Low
While overstimulation is a big problem, under stimulation can be just as bad. You want to achieve a certain level of human arousal for optimal performance and falling under that mark can mean that you are sluggish and slow to respond. If you are often dealing with under-stimulation, then you need to practice techniques that pump you up and make you mentally and physically energized for the task ahead.
When you are feeling underwhelmed and under-aroused, here are some techniques you can follow:
Listen to energetic music – Consider what songs put you in the mood to dance, move and just generally hype you up. Putting together a playlist of your most hype songs is a great way to psych yourself up for a big game.
Positive visualization – This was mentioned for over-stimulation, but it works just as well for under-stimulation. You need to think about yourself succeeding and hype yourself up for a major victory. Imagine yourself hitting that home run, scoring that goal, beating the timer, or landing a perfect routine. Give yourself confidence and envision yourself as a victorious athlete. Visualization can be easier while listening to a playlist you made, or if you want an encouraging voice, guided audio visualization can be helpful. It's important to make them your own, personalizing your visualizations to you and what you want to accomplish are the best way to see success.
Establish a routine – A great way to get yourself ready for a game is to make sure you have a game day routine. If you are feeling lost or unprepared on game day, this could either bring your mood down or overstimulate it. Make a plan for your game days and stick to them. Give yourself time to relax, visualize positivity, and hype yourself up. With all this room to breathe, you should feel much more prepared and energized to take on the day.
Warm up properly – Outside of your mental exercises, make sure your body is prepared to succeed as well. Warm up with stretches, and make sure you are limber and ready to handle the physical demands that you are about to face. If you go into a physical event too cool, then you risk feeling lethargic and unprepared for physically demanding tasks.
SWatson Solutions Guided Relaxation Audio – What is it, and How Can it Help
The ‘Guided Relaxation’ or “Non-Sleep”, Deep Rest (NSDR) audios from SWatson Solutions, are a systematic full-body guided relaxation. These audio tapes create mental changes in brain waves that aid in releasing emotional tension, calming down the nervous system, relaxing muscles, and aiding in the storage of information. When used for relaxation purposes, these audio recordings help athletes to focus on their sport, connecting their mind to their body and balancing their athletic arousal and performance.
In terms of academics or professional careers, these recordings have been shown to enhance learning and memory if done within 4 hours of a study session. Altogether, these audio recordings are meant to be restorative and can be used as part of anyone’s routine to optimize sleep, mind-body function, and performance. This guided audio comes with the Total Body Reset Annual Plan, available at https://www.swatsonsolutions.com/plans-pricing
The Total Body Reset is an 8-week program that blends deep stretch flows, mobility, breathwork, and mindfulness-based relaxation, to help you align and recover your body and mind. This program may be a good fit for you if:
You want to focus on your mobility and flexibility
You are looking to decrease joint pain and muscle soreness
You want to decrease stress and improve your sleep quality
You are an athlete looking for injury prevention and accelerated recovery
You are a coach looking to improve your team’s performance
If you want to improve your performance and rest, consider SWatson Solutions Guided Relaxation and classes as your resource.
If you’re an athlete or fitness enthusiast, you must think about the long-term health of your body. It feels good to chase those short-term gains, but always remember the importance of recovery. By keeping your body and mind relaxed, and emphasizing recovery in your training regimen, you can make sure you are ready to maximize your performance whenever the time strikes. This goes for non-athletes as well. We all face periods of stress in our lives and implementing more mindfulness into your life can help you overcome them.
SWatson Solutions Guided Relaxation audio has been incredibly helpful in helping people achieve a more balanced mindset, alleviate stress, and improve various areas of their life such as sleep quality and memory. We urge you to give the Total Body Reset Program a try and see how Guided Relaxation can transform your body and mind.
Interested in utilizing the Guided Relaxation? Check out the 8 Week Total Body Reset annual plan here: https://www.swatsonsolutions.com/plans-pricing