Mindfulness. It's the buzzword that's taken the last few years by storm. We see it plastered on book covers, in podcast titles, and seemingly every social media post. And while marketing professionals have capitalized on the term, there is some truth to the messages. Having a mindfulness practice can significantly benefit our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. It can also be an excellent addition to our physical workouts.
Having a short but daily mindfulness practice benefits exercise in a few ways. First, mindfulness can teach us how to breathe correctly, as many of us tend to live in a constant state of shallow, unconscious breathing. We need our breath to move us through exercises, whether we're running sprints, lifting weights, or practicing yoga. A daily mindfulness ritual can bring us back to the basics of deep and purposefully breathing. We can then use those breathwork techniques and principles when feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or when exercising. We recommend the Headspace app for getting started with this.
A daily mindfulness practice also trains our brain to be more focused. The goal of mindfulness is to stay present and to release the constant chatter happening in our minds. You're not trying to clear your brain. Instead, you're learning to observe your worries, fears, and frustrations and let them move past you. As you can assume, focus and presence are incredibly beneficial to exercise, especially when a workout is challenging and feels impossible, having the mental strength to set intentions and focus on the task at hand can be the difference between pushing through or quitting.
Finally, mindfulness has been shown to improve sleep quality, which, of course, is necessary to recovery after a strenuous workout. Rest is vital for performance and overall health, so anything that can improve sleep is essential.
There are numerous other benefits to having a mindfulness practice, and the ones above only scratch the surface. But as we've written about before, our mental wellbeing greatly impacts our physical health--and vice-versa. Especially during this stressful and overwhelming time in human history, it's necessary to care for our total wellbeing.
To learn more about mindfulness, what it is, and how to get started with your own practice, we recommend the Headspace blog for further reading.