Many athletes struggle with addiction. Some have been successful in getting sober, while others are constantly battling against their bad habits. While Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter was able to make a full recovery from drug addiction early on in his career, the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon decided to enter into an in-patient rehab after his numerous issues with substance abuse.
Along with going to rehab, athletes can take back control over their lives and fight their addictions by utilizing mindfulness meditation.
Using Mindfulness to Recover After Rehab
While checking into rehab is an excellent first step to addiction recovery, what comes after rehab is just as important. “Mindfulness meditation is a powerful recovery-centric skill that has several benefits in aftercare,” says Dr. Rod Amiri of Prominence Treatment Center in Calabasas, Calif. “It promotes emotional regulation, which helps athletes stay calm and decrease their stress levels.”
Athletes can take these lessons with them to high-stakes conditions in games and competitions. They can discover how to use the power of their minds to be centered instead of turning to alcohol and drugs to calm down after a loss or celebrate a win.
“Mindfulness has also proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression as well as promote feelings of contentment and global wellness,” Dr. Amiri adds.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness positively impacts your physical and mental wellbeing. It helps with depression, substance abuse, couples’ conflicts, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Physically, it can relieve stress, treat heart disease, decrease chronic pain, improve sleep, alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties and lower blood pressure.
Overall, mindfulness will make it easier for athletes to savor the pleasures in life as they occur and empower them to become fully engaged both on and off the court. It also creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events they may be experiencing in their personal lives.
By focusing on the here and now instead of fixating on the past or worrying about the future, athletes who practice mindfulness are less likely to get caught up in their stress and be concerned about self-esteem and success. They’re able to form deep, meaningful connections with others.
How to Practice Mindfulness
Set aside 10 minutes a day to start and find a comfortable and private spot where you will not be disturbed. Eliminate all distractions, like phones, televisions and laptops, and sit in a comfortable, upright position on the floor or on a chair. Then, breathe normally in and out through your nose and focus on your breath wherever it is most prominent. Observe the present moment as it is. The goal of mindfulness is not to quiet the mind or attempt to achieve a state of eternal calm but to pay attention to the present moment and not judge it.
For more information on the practice, read up on the practice at Mindful.org.
Joining Up with Others Practicing Mindfulness
It may be helpful to join local mindfulness groups, which are typically free. Through these groups, they can learn the proper techniques, find support for their newfound practice and ask a friend to hold them accountable and ensure they are staying on track with their mindfulness routines. Additionally, mindful meditation is taught at most rehabs today. It helps patients take everything they learned about mindfulness and apply it to their daily routines at home.
Mindfulness is a simple practice, but it carries many benefits. For athletes, these benefits can be life-changing and get them back in the game, doing what they love once again.
Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance writer in Los Angeles specializing in the content marketing, small business, tech and legal niches.