The topic of mental health is hot right now, and with good reason. According to the American Institute of Stress (AIST), 33% of people feel extreme stress. 77% of people experience stress that affects physical health, and 73%) have mental stress.

Imagine you are stressed about something at work or home. The problem is constant in your mind, causing you to lose sleep and making it difficult to focus on other things. You have an athletic event in the future.

Although you’re still training, you’re finding it challenging to keep your head in the game and feel tired. Your performance on game day could be better. Your athletic performance was affected by what started as a stressor at work or home. This is a typical pattern, but it doesn’t have to become your regular.

You can reduce stress and improve your field performance by improving your mindfulness.

NASM’s Certified Wellbeing Coach course will teach you more stress reduction and recovery techniques.


Understanding stress and its causes is essential to manage it effectively. Any stimulus or situation that deviates from the homeostatic equilibrium is considered a stressor. While moderate stress can improve your performance and increase your immunity, too much pressure can cause you to be less productive.

It can be either mental or physical stress. You can call it eustress (sound pressure) or distress (bad anxiety). Eustress encourages us to make positive changes or push towards a goal. Distress can keep us in line or back us mentally or physically.

Based on personal experience, what is good and bad stress may vary between people. One athlete might shut down because a coach is shouting at them, while another might find the same event inspiring them to do better. Everybody is different! Every workout creates stress in the body, so it’s essential to recognize that this stress is necessary to increase athletic performance.

If the exercise is too complicated or causes injury, the stimulus meant to be eustress can become distressed. Identifying the sources of distress and eustress in your life and sport is essential.

It might not be “all in your mind.”

Most people refer to stress as psychological or mental stress when they talk about it. How does mental distress affect athletic performance? Your body will quickly restore equilibrium if you are experiencing any pain. Your body will respond the same regardless of whether you are experiencing mental stress (such as standing on the mound to throw the pitch that could decide the game’s outcome) or physical stress (such as running from hungry bears),

Your body responds to the threat by sending a signal to its mind. In both cases, your sympathetic nervous system activates, and your body enters “fight or flight” mode to defend itself against the perceived danger. The heart rate and respiration rise, blood flows rapidly towards the body’s vital organs, and digestion, reproduction, and other functions are put on “pause” to allow all energy to be used for escaping any potential danger.

This helps us escape a life-threatening situation by using all of our resources. This works well if you are in danger of being hurt, but it can make it more difficult to complete the task. Your body will restore homeostasis if you experience occasional distress. You will recover quickly. Chronic mental distress can make you more susceptible to injury and illness (Lopes dos Santos, etc.). al. 2020).

Although stressors are inevitable in life, there are ways to improve your ability to respond to them on a daily basis. Learning how to navigate mental stressors can reduce the physical effects of what started as a mental threat. This can be done by practicing mindfulness.


Mindfulness is a mental state that involves focusing on the present moment and acknowledging and accepting one’s emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations. The results of a meta-analysis of 209 research studies on mindfulness-based therapies shows that mindfulness can be used to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression (Khoury et. al. al. 2013).

This can have serious implications for athletes. To describe an athlete’s ability perform at their peak physical performance while still being able focus on immediate performance cues (Rothlin P. et.). al. 2016).

Although there is not much research on the effect of mindfulness interventions on athletic performance in the literature, preliminary results suggest that mindfulness practices may be beneficial for athletes (Rothlin et. al. al. 2016).


The following mindfulness and stress reduction techniques are available for you to try. These techniques can be used before or after practice, at any time that suits you best.

Nature walks. A 2022 study that looked at nature walks showed that one hour in the woods can help reduce stress (Sudimac S., Sale V. & Kuhn S.2022). Even if you don’t have the time to go outside, it can help you forget about what’s bothering you.

Breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can help you focus your attention and encourage convergent thinking, or the ability to find one solution to a problem. This exercise is worth a try. You can inhale and count to 7, then exhale to count to 7. Inhale as you count to 6, then exhale to count to 6. Continue counting from 7 to 1. Start over at 7. If you lose count, get distracted, or lose track of the numbers, start again. You can do this several times.

Meditation. Meditation can be described as spring cleaning. There are many ways you can practice meditation. Meditation is about focusing your thoughts. While doing an activity, active meditation helps you become more aware of your inner experience (thoughts and feelings) and your external experience (what you hear, feel, and smell) while being mindful.

Self-myofascial relief and stretching. Foam rollingstretching can reduce stress and increase muscle performance.

It takes time to develop a mindfulness practice, as with all new behaviors. But it is worth it.


Mindfulness and stress reduction are not only for athletes. These practices can help you feel better physically and mentally.

The benefits of reduced stress and better mindfulness can be seen outside of the gym. They include the ability to focus on the task at hand, a greater presence with friends and family and improved physical health.


Although stressors are inevitable, they can be managed. You can manage stress and maintain peak performance by practicing mindfulness and stress reduction techniques daily.