Reduce Your “Golf Stress” With These Mindfulness Techniques
What comes to mind when you someone recommends that you practice mindfulness?
Maybe you think of meditation.
Maybe you think of yoga.
Maybe you think of long stretches of awkward silence.
Maybe you think of essential oils and/or incense.
Or, maybe you think of a deep spiritual practice that requires intense study before it actually works. One thing that I know is that any form mindfulness WORKS!
While mindfulness can include meditation, the use of oils and incense, and even be studied by those who want to be certified practitioners and teachers – it can also be a way of seeing the world and how you fit in it. Being mindful is something anyone can do.
And yet, many people believe that being mindful, or living a mindful life, is difficult. They’re caught up in living by rote. In the day-to-day routines of work and family and friends until they’re doing things only because they’re supposed to be doing them. They’re not giving much thought to why they’re working at that job, or why they’re frustrated with their relationships with family and friends. They’ve gotten used to the way things are and don’t think to make a change.
This hectic, constant activity without real thought or meaning can cause a lot of stress. Those who suffer from persistent anxiety throughout the day, a sense of being rushed but not quite knowing why, headaches, and more tend to ignore the symptoms of stress and assume it’s how Life is and that everyone experiences this. When you are on the practice tee or even while playing, do you know that you are breathing? I see so many of my new students hold their breath and they don’t even realize it.
Well, not everyone experiences this and you no longer have to.
For you busy people, yes … you! … who are wanting to live a more mindful life but are having difficulty de-stressing and relaxing enough to even meditate for 5 minutes…
Here are 3 techniques you can begin doing today that will help you to relax and de-stress:
Journaling is a practice that many, many people have found to be the core reason why they are successful, why they are able to achieve goals, and more importantly – why they are able to find meaning in their life.
It is one of the most popular and effective mindfulness techniques because it’s based on the fact that you must be fully present so that you can pay attention to your thoughts. And, you’re doing it on purpose, with purpose. You have intention behind your action that sets in motion a sense of being mindful and in the present.
Ideally, if you journal in the morning it is to start the day with an attitude and focus that you choose. A recommendation is that you write down what you will accomplish today and how you will feel when you’ve done it. Then finish with a list of what you are grateful for in your life.
If you are journaling at night, then you use this time to reflect over the day and write down what you accomplished, how you feel about it, what you didn’t accomplish and how you feel about it. Then finish with a list of what you are grateful for in your life.
It won’t be long and you’ll be able to go back and review your journal entries. This can be a big help to you in seeing patterns of behavior, reactions, instances that cause you stress. Of course, once you see what the problem is you can then find the solution.
Journaling for golfers is quite easy.
If you have a big tournament coming up and you know the golf course pretty well, take out your journal and start writing with this format:
Breathe with Purpose
Chances are good you’re saying “breathe with purpose? What the heck are you talking about? If I didn’t breathe I wouldn’t be alive!”
I know, it sounds “off” doesn’t it? And yet, studies have proven1 that most of us breathe without thinking – and we breathe shallow breaths. When you breathe deeply you can feel a difference throughou your body. Your heart rate slows, your shoulders relax, your mind calms a bit. Really, it does. Try it now – two deep breaths.
Using this mindfulness technique will help you calm down, lower your blood pressure, and slow your initial stress related reaction. This is breathing with purpose and can be a vital step in learning about your body reactions, keeping them in check and dealing with your stress before it causes physical injury or illness.
Walking in a tournament with a caddy. Have your caddy focus on their breath as well as they are walking with you down the fairway. Check out my pre-shot routine and in between routine below:
If you ever play with me, you’ve seen me do this on EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY GOLF SHOT I have during the round. This is not something for show. This is something that truly will manifest your desired level of game.
Meditate with Purpose
This is what most people think mindfulness is all about – meditation. They’re wrong, of course, it isn’t all that mindfulness is about. It is a part of it, though.
Meditation with purpose is being focused on something in particular, in this case reducing stress, and learning what the root issue is.
How do you do this? How do you meditate with the purpose of reducing stress?
Begin with simply sitting still, eyes NOT closed, and taking three deep breaths. Let your eyes gaze out in front of you about 4 to 6 feet. You’ll find that you are more attentive during this stillness practice. While you’re breathing in and out mark the belly breath with a note you say to yourself – “up… down”, or breathing “out… in”. Feel your shoulders relaxing. Next, as you are breathing if any thoughts come to mind, just simply watch them like a passing car or bus (depends on the thought, haha). If you get pulled into a thought sequence and realize you are not focusing on your breath, simply take a bigger belly breath and return to your “noting” of up/down, in/out method. As your mind settles you’ll begin to be able to just simply be with your breath.
If you are REALLY stressed, try this method. As you breathe in and out with the belly, IMAGINE a pitcher of water, beer, mud, slime or whatever would represent your stress if it were in the pitcher. Take your hand and pick up pitcher. Have a look, a smell and may be even touch it with your other hand… is it soft, prickly, crusty? Walk over to the gutter, remember we are imagining this… stretch your arm out and pour out the pitcher of muck and disgust and angst and toil into the gutter. Let it wash down into the sewer where the hood rots and scofflaws live. When the picther is empty simply bring the pitcher into the wash room and rinse it out. Now you have a clean pitcher to fill up with something else or maybe more stress next week or next month. Either way this is a great way to clear out the gunk.
These 3 techniques can be used one at a time or can be used together to help your stress levels. You can adjust them or change them as you need to and as your stress levels rise or fall. The key is to do one or all of them at least a few times a week. I meditate every morning before I get out of bed and once in the afternoon.
Please don’t choose to start – START NOW with 10 good belly breaths. I’ll show you how, click the play button in the video below:
And if you want a primer on meditating, join us for a meditation class the first Tuesday of every month. Reserve your spot HERE
1 Russo, M. A., Santarelli, D. M., & O’Rourke, D. (2017). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe (Sheffield, England), 13(4), 298–309. doi:10.1183/20734735.009817