Want to get physically fit? The key is to get mentally fit first…

Funnily enough, physical fitness actually has a lot more to do with our mental health and stamina than most would think. An Olympian for instance, would be the first to tell you that the key to their god-like physique is actually having the mental stamina to keep motivated and keep training. So how do they do it?

According to psychologist and director of the Sports Psychology Program at UCLA, Robert E. Corb PhD, whilst many athletes can go far relying on only their physical ability, the truly elite go further because they know how to use their minds.

Learning how to build mental stamina can also help individuals who aren’t just going for gold. Musicians, business folk, writers and just anyone who generally is required to give a ‘performance’, could all benefit from learning some of the following skills and applying them in daily life.

1. Positive thinking

Corb says that self-confidence is probably the most important characteristic an athlete needs, so how do you get more of it if it is an area in which you are currently lacking?

Confidence in our abilities and ourselves is something that we can mentally build upon. If we keep saying internally “I won’t be able to do this”, then we probably won’t be able to reach that goal.

Pay attention to what you are saying about yourself, and if you are continually hearing negative thoughts then correct yourself and make a conscious effort to think more positively.

After a while, interrupting those negative thoughts and replacing them with ones which are positive will begin to have an impact upon your performance.

2. Visualize the prize

It may sound like the most over quoted technique in the book, but picturing yourself achieving your goal can really help.

According to David Geier, an orthopaedic surgeon and director of Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina – some athletes use visualization right before a game to practice mentally.

A football player for instance, may close his eyes and imagine what scoring his first goal would look like.

Corb on the other hand suggests a slightly different technique, advising people to picture any past achievements to reaffirm that you can indeed ‘do it’.

3. Be prepared to get back on the horse

We all fall of the wagon and hit the wall from time to time, but what is important is how we recover.

Allowing the situation to spiral out of control or self-loathing and feeling as though you have failed is certainly not the solution.

Corb believes that we all have the ability to learn to regain focus after things go wrong – it is simply a case of practice.

There is no wrong or right answer to this, it is a case of finding what works for you. Some athletes may have a routine of specific stretches, others may receit a phrase to themselves, others may listen to a certain song.

You need to find what works for you when the pressure mounts. Simply having and knowing that you have a plan should something go wrong, will help to keep you feeling confident.

For more tips, please visit the original WebMD article.

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Written by Emma Hilton
Written by Emma Hilton
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