Mental Lesson Plan 2
by Joan King
Happy Holidays! With the holiday season well underway you are probably experiencing a lot of extra hurried activity…. decorating, shopping, and socializing. The increased pace can cause additional stress on your mind and body. And this is the time of year where most of us fall back into old habits of excess that could have long term effects on our health. Now is the time to train your brain and body for new empowering habits to avoid the guilt feelings of being out of control. Stressful situations tempt us with unhealthy temporary instant cures to alleviate the uncomfortable feelings.
Excess is any form is a great distraction, but a lousy substitute for True Joy.
Practice using relaxation techniques to balance your mind, body and spirit whenever you feel anxious or stressed. Practice now and by the time the golf season rolls around in the Spring you will have mastered the art of relaxing and centering within to perform at your best. Take the time right now as you read this letter to inhale deeply through your diaphragm. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale twice as long as you inhaled, just the way you do when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake. If you feel any tension in any part of your body, focus your attention there and allow the tension to move out as you exhale. Take three deep breaths in this manner and then notice the calm inside your body. Notice how you are now focused within instead of on the outer world's activities.
People deal with stress in different ways. A recent study at UCLA suggests that women respond to stress with a production of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. The hormone oxytocin is released and buffers the fight or flight response and encourages women to tend children and gather with other women instead. This calming response does not occur in men. They appear to deal with stress more effectively through exercise or escaping into their office to solve the problem.
1. As discussed last month, physical exercise is a good way to relieve stress and tension. Walking or some other kind of exercise program is a fantastic way to deal with stress. Exercise helps you sleep. When you are not fatigued, you deal with stress more effectively. If your golf course is closed for the winter, this would be a good time to walk the course and "play" each shot in your imagination and start programming your career round.
2. Breathe deeply to relieve stress and relax. When people feel anxious, they unconsciously hold their breath. Take a few moments during the day to take three full, slow breaths, let it out slowly to release any feelings that you express in stress. This is a good time to practice breathing in your golf swing indoors. Inhale on your (imaginary) backswing, pause, and exhale on the downswing. Do this everyday until it becomes a habit. In the Spring you will notice the increased distance!
3. Have a positive outlook on life. This will give you extra energy. Having a positive mental attitude is having a good spiritual connection. See the good side of everything you do and everything that happens to you. See the bigger picture and don't get ensconced in the "small stuff". Write down what you like about golf. Write down a description of the kind of golfer that you would like to be.
4. Golf and life and meant to be enjoyed. Golf can be a way to relax if you let go of expectations of not being good enough. Enjoy everything that you are doing in the moment. Practice being in the NOW.
5. Eat healthy foods for high energy and keep "comfort" foods to a minimum. If your afternoon looks like it will be frenetic, give your body protein at lunch with cheese, fish or meat.
6. Drink lots of water. Water is important in transporting nutrients and flushing out waste products that can drain energy. Most of us are less than 100% hydrated because the thirst mechanism isn't as distinct as the hunger mechanism.
7. Giving gifts is a tradition during the holidays. A Spiritual Law is, "Giving and receiving are the same." When you give a gift and it is well received, you receive the gift of pleasure in return. To increase your self-esteem, begin to acknowledge compliments with a heartfelt "thank you" instead of thinking you don't deserve it, or judging the gift or its giver. On the golf course, accepting compliments into your heart from your foursome will keep you in a positive frame of mind.
8. Physical tension is a result of mental stress. Choose what will bring you joy. Catch yourself when you are experiencing the "what ifs", and stay in the moment by focusing and enjoying what you are doing. When you are experiencing indecision, take a deep breath and go to your heart center and decide what is best for you. It is easy to give so much that you are no longer giving or helping and are experiencing anxiety or worry. Have you noticed that you do this on the golf course also?
9. Your body language reflects your state of mind. Develop an awareness of how you carry yourself, especially when you're feeling stressed. Change your posture to a straighter alignment. If you do it, even if you don't feel like doing it, you will feel better. It's like smiling. Sometimes you smile because you are happy and sometimes because you want to be happy. Your speaking rate and style can also affect your mood and other's reactions to you.
As a last holiday thought I would like to recommend the movie "Emperor's Club" with Kevin Kline. The film has a powerful message about the conflict of integrity and self-respect as it is faced with the challenges of "win at any cost". It's a spiritual message that I highly recommend.
- Learn to take control of your body and your reaction to stress and anxiety. Recognize it in all facets of your life. Decide to live your life with the emphasis on the importance of relaxation, fun and pleasure. The more you relax, the better you feel.
- When you go to bed tonight, use your imagination to create the pleasurable day you want tomorrow.
- Share your life with others in a meaningful way. All the great research, all the religions, all the philosophies indicate this is the root of happiness.
- Be grateful and give thanks for all the blessings we have been given.
- Create a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Entrain Your Heart & Brain for Peak Performance!© Copyright PMI 2002. All Rights Reserved.
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