How to Use Sports to Turn Off Your Mind

By Magee Walker – smdwalker@gmail.com

You’ll know it when it happens: despite the fact that you could barely keep your eyes open all day, you can’t fall asleep because your mind won’t stop racing. Or you’ll lose your car in the mall parking lot because you were preoccupied with your own thoughts when you parked it two hours ago. Sometimes, we just want to tell our minds to shut up.

Luckily, there’s an easy, natural and healthy way to deal with this: get moving.

Yoga: To Tune Out the Daily Chatter
If your mind is crammed with grocery lists, deadlines and other mundane tasks, try a power or hot yoga class.

The physical aspect will keep your mind focused on your burning muscles, and the meditative aspect will teach you how to tune out the nagging voice in your head. Trust your teacher to guide you through your movements and breath, and let your inner monologue take a breather.

Running: To Seek Clarity
When you’re facing big decisions regarding your job, a relationship, or some other major aspect of your life, there’s nothing better than lacing up and heading into the great outdoors, solo. Leave your iPod at home– when you’re free of distractions, you’ll find it’s easier to focus entirely on your thoughts.

As a bonus, try to run in a natural setting– choking back car exhaust or pounding it out on a treadmill just won’t have the same effect.

Skiing/Snowboarding: To Solve Your Life Problems
A day on the mountain is a miracle drug.

The social component (chatter on the chairlift) will lift your spirits and renew your faith in humanity. It’s hard not to smile when meeting strangers who share your passion for sport and the great outdoors.

The natural component will bring you clarity and perspective. When you’re surrounded by cliffs, bowls, peaks, valleys and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see, your problems suddenly feel very, very small.

The action component will fix anything that’s left. Whether you’re floating effortlessly through powder, pumping adrenaline and conquering fears, or dodging trees, you’ll be reminded of what it’s like to feel alive.

As you ski out for the day, you might find your perspective has shifted. At the very least, you’ll have put your mind on pause in the name of fun.

We associate sports with physical activity and fitness, but the mental benefits are just as important. So get out there and work your brain!

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