Even if you love your workout, adding these elements can help you focus and relax to a greater degree. Being able to focus and relax will help you perform better and get the most from your workout.
Meditate While You Run
Almost any workout can be transformed into a meditation exercise. Many people are seeking to be more present in their lives, which calms the nerves and reduces anxious thinking.
If you walk or run, you can focus on your breathing or footsteps. When I run, I have found it most beneficial to focus on my footsteps because it allows both my mind and my breath to flow more freely.
If you do repetitions, you can focus gently on the muscle contraction to ease your mind off of any discomfort. This kind of focus will generally make each rep of greater benefit because it allows you to focus more on the muscle movement rather than “just getting finished.”
Stretching is Good Mind Work
If you often seem stiff before or during a workout, you will definitely benefit from stretching. A stretching routine is best done ten minutes after you begin your workout because this gives the muscles time to warm up. A slow stretch of each of the major muscle groups will help you relax and will make the rest of your workout more enjoyable (and easier!).
Burn a Candle
Most of us are under constant bombardment from artificial light during the day and experience eye strain due to computer usage. If you workout at home, dimming the lights and burning a candle is a great way to undo some of this stress buildup.
Take Your Workout Outdoors
Being outdoors is a great way to relieve stress. Many indoor elements, such as artificial heating and cooling, artificial lighting, and buildup of indoor pollutants can put stress on your system. Being outdoors, even in cold weather, is like opening the windows in spring – it can be very refreshing.
Even if you live in the city, being outdoors daily can get you in touch with nature and nature’s rhythms: sunrise or sunset, bird song and migration, seasonal leavings and re-growth, and, of course, the weather. Nature can become a friend you greet each day.
In addition, being outside each day can help with SAD – seasonal affective disorder – which is caused by a lack of natural light.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is a very effective way to get in touch with your own thoughts and feelings. When you have the chance to reflect, you understand the sources of events and your emotions (cause and effect) better.
Keeping a workout journal can also help you keep track of progress and your achievements and will help you to understand “what works.” Because of this, you may be better able to plan your next workout or prepare for something like a marathon because your goals will be on paper.
Connect your Workout to Your Religion
If you are religious or believe in a higher power you can add meaning to your workout by devoting it to a deity. For many people, good health is part of a larger commitment to a system of belief. By making a conscious effort to pray or reflect before your workout, you can make your routine a daily ritual in which you connect to God.
Take a Yoga Class
Yoga can introduce you to a whole new practice that you can do on its own or with your usual workout. Some yoga postures improve balance, digestion, body alignment, and ease mental fatigue in addition improving focus and concentration.