Mind GamesIn a continuing collaboration with Scott over at Straight to the Bar, we have written about head games for the month of April and delved into the thought processes that you may have while you are working out.

Over the past month, we have mostly discussed how your mind controls your body. Specifically, we have discussed how important focus is, how fear can derail even the best laid plans, and the importance of visualisation. The state of mind that you are in when you are attempting an athletic endeavor helps to determine the state of your body when it comes time to perform.

Running RelaxedOne thing to bear in mind, though, is that the opposite can also be true. The state of your body has a profound effect on your mind. You can give yourself wild and drastic mood swings merely through how you treat your body and what you ask it to do. When you are performing at your peak and you are finishing that marathon or lifting more weight than you have ever supported, your body is completely in tune with your actions. You can be filled with a euphoria that is difficult to find even with drugs, and your body can help your mind find the focus needed to continue to strive.

Alternatively, the pain from your body under the same circumstances can drive your mind to distraction. You can begin to focus on the electrical pulses sent from your nerves to your brain which tells your mind that something is not quite right. You may begin to question what you are doing, or you may become numb and lose track of your surroundings. Little things may start to distract you, allowing you to continue or forcing you to quit.

We do not have to be active in order for our bodies to control our minds. Get in shape, and then take a little time off. Your body will crave the exercise, and may even go into withdrawel symptoms if you ignore it’s pleas to get outside and do something. As soon as you listen to your cravings you will become calm and any funk that you may have been in before your workout will melt away. Running or other types of exercise can be the best kind of therapy you could find for yourself, and will generally cost less than hiring a professional head shrinker.

It is important to focus and visualize your goals, and it is important to tell your body what you want it to do. It is also important to listen to your body, and to recognize that the communication between mind and body is a two way street. Forcing your body to do things it is not capable of will lead to injuries, but pushing it to its limits will lead to personal records and success in your athletic pursuits. Ignoring what your body has to say to you can also lead to injuries and depression, while listening to your body and just letting it take over now and again can make all of your problems seem a little less severe and more easily managed.