3 Ways to Keep Calm and Focus

Modern lifestyles can leave us feeling stressed and anxious, with our mind constantly ticking over as we try to keep pace with our day-to-day responsibilities. Whether you have a hectic job, a family to look after, or you generally feel like you have too much going on, it’s easy to let the pressure get to you.

This is when you can start feeling unwell, as anxiety and stress can manifest themselves in physical symptoms. In order to feel at your best, it’s important to combat the anxious, flustered thoughts that cause stress. Experts recommend implementing strategies to calm your mind, including controlled breathing to calm you down.

Three strategies are effective not only in day-to-day life, but also in a workout. Combining exercise with strategies that help you to keep calm and focus are better than any medicine.

  1. Deep breathing

When you feel anxious, your breathing becomes sharper and shorter as you begin to slide into panic mode. No matter where you are, you can focus on breathing deeply and calmly to help de-stress and feel ready for anything.

The secret to deep breathing is to follow certain techniques. As you inhale, count “one, two, three” slowly so that it takes you three seconds to draw the breath. Then, do the same as you exhale. Some experts advise breathing in slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, although you can do whatever feels comfortable.

Repeat this five to 10 times. Once you begin focusing on relaxing your breathing and counting, it automatically diverts your attention from the anxious thoughts causing you stress.

Athletes believe in the power of deep breathing and have developed sports breathing techniques. In particular, some runners use 3:2 rhythmic breathing. This means you breathe in for three steps and breathe out for two steps, alternating exhaling from your left to right foot and vice versa as you run.

This technique is beneficial because your core muscles relax as you exhale, putting more impact on the foot you’re landing on. By controlling your breathing, it disperses the impact evenly on both sides of your body.

 

  1. Meditation

Meditation quietens the mind, enabling you to be still and focus on the present moment. Like breathing techniques, meditation is something you can practice anywhere, at any time, although it’s beneficial to schedule a specific time for it every day.
Someone meditating
A popular exercise takes just 10 minutes, when you need to find time to be alone without interruptions. Sit quietly and begin by taking deep breaths, allowing your body to relax. You can simply relax and breathe deeply, or you can have a purpose in mind.

This could be focusing on a specific topic, or thinking of things that make you feel grateful, or praying if you’re a religious person. You can meditate for longer, or complete more than one 10-minute session a day if you wish. You can also take part in an active, physical form of meditation such as yoga, at the gym or at home.

Some athletes believe meditating after a workout is beneficial. The mental and physical benefits of exercise are well-known, but studies have shown that meditating after a workout can create positive changes that will continue long after your workout has ended. Experts believe this can help improve your athletic performance by influencing your body’s response to exercising.

When you’re working out, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol, which can improve your mood, protect you from stress and even assist with fat loss. However, if you have too much cortisol in your system, it can leave you feeling clouded mentally.

This is because your body may misinterpret the excess cortisol as a sign something is wrong, as it can’t distinguish between cortisol produced as a result of healthy workouts, or as a result of you having a stressful day at work.

Researchers tested whether meditation could help guard against the negative effects of excess cortisol. They studied people with excess cortisol over a period of four days and found that those who meditated saw a considerable decrease in levels. Many athletes believe participating in meditation post-workout aids their recovery.

 

  1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness refers to focusing your attention on the present moment, with the aim of escaping from any concerns and worries. Practice taking downtime and bringing your thoughts under control, staying in the present and not worrying about what might happen.

Once you learn how to calm yourself down, you will increasingly be able to avoid setbacks by overcoming obstacles in a measured and calm way. Mindfulness is something everyone has naturally. It’s a basic ability to be aware of what we’re doing, without being distracted by things going on around us. It becomes easier to achieve this state when we practice it regularly.

Mindfulness meditation requires you to set aside some time and space and simply observe the present moment. Our mind has a tendency to get carried away in thought and mindfulness must learn to return, continually, to the present moment.

Yoga promotes mindful exercise routines, focusing on mind-body integration that deepens participants’ experience of their spirit through physical activities. This means doing simple things: for example, rather than approaching exercise at full pelt, you should slow down for a while and genuinely feel what’s happening inside your body as you exercise.

You need to be prepared, mentally and physically, for a workout. Before you start, take stock of how you feel and then proceed to your exercise routine, to feel the benefits of keeping calm and focusing.

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