You’ve heard it said before: Thoughts are things. The impact of our mental and emotional selves on our physical selves cannot be overestimated. Thoughts and feelings have a direct physiological impact on our bodies. Here’s a quick example: think about an ice-cold, tart cherry. See it in your mind’s eye, and imagine the chill in your fingertips from grasping it. Now, imagine popping it in your mouth and rolling it around on your tongue. Cold and smooth. Now, imagine biting into it. Did your mouth begin to water? If a simple thought can do that to your tongue, imagine what negative, anxiety producing thoughts can do to your body!
There is great power in this relationship between mind, emotions and body. Elite athletes know that mental attitude accounts for 80 percent or more of performance. Visualizing a goal, and using positive self-talk to reinforce your abilities, can get you where you want to go—top of the hill, last set of squats, one last push up. So too, negative thoughts and anxious feelings can sabotage all your efforts. Harnessing power of your mind and your emotions can transform your workouts, your physical prowess, and your life, too.
Consider This: Negative thoughts put direct stress on the body, particularly the central nervous system. Mind races, adrenalin flows through the bloodstream, and your heart rate can increase up to 5 beats per minute. Conversely, soothing, calming thoughts can lower your heart rate by 5 beats. It all comes down to a choice—what do you choose to focus on?
The demands of Outdoor Fitness (and sports!) require mental focus and emotional control. You are rewarded with increased mental acuity, concentration, and self- awareness. Self-reflection and even self-discovery are benefits that often surprise people.
The Bottom Line: As you practice moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, your mental focus builds, you will find greater power to influence and improve physical performance by controlling and directing your thoughts and emotions. Becoming emotionally fit can be as liberating and health-promoting as physical fitness. You’ll discover new avenues for personal growth. You’ll make positive changes to your life. You’ll increase your ability to trust. You’ll find a deep sense of gratitude within yourself, for many things in your life, including the ability to be healthy. You’ll begin to discover your mental and emotional power out on the trail or on the slopes. What you’ll soon learn is that you can take this power off the trail and into your life, to help you navigate the bumps and twists that life brings, with grace and inner calm.