Mindfulness at work …
What does mindfulness have to do with digital change? On the surface, not much at a first glance. But not without a good reason this topic is experiencing a real hype recently, especially in fast-moving industries. The environment is changing rapidly. New challenges are emerging faster and faster, especially the ones we face in the business world.
Sign of the times: Available knowledge worldwide doubles every five to seven years. And 80 percent of the technologies used today will be replaced by new ones in ten years’ time.
In addition, there is a very high workload: too many, too complex tasks, strong deadline and performance pressure, multi-tasking, interruptions, constant availability and an often-unhealthy management and work culture. Short-term stress reactions can indeed have an activating effect. However, if the level remains high and there are no recovery phases, the body switches to continuous alarm.
Mindfulness is an effective method of achieving a stress-free state of consciousness during work. Sport can have a similar balancing effect.
Mental fitness in sports
Being in shape as an athlete means to sharpen your concentration, to think self-motivating and to face new challenges in a relaxed and self-confident way. Mental fitness in competitive sports can be described as the continuous maintenance of your own internal memory. Just as a computer with a full working memory slows down, an athlete, absent-minded can achieve considerably less.
Increasing mental fitness and your own well-being therefore play an important role in competitive sports, too. Mental demands are constantly growing. The motto: faster, more powerful, more precise. More and more are demanded. The logic of increase: always new records.
Reaching the feeling of peak performance in any sport relies on tuning out distractions and staying grounded in the present moment. Therefore, strengthening mental fitness is just as important as training physical fitness and skills. After all, body and mind belong together. So why to train the body but leave the mind untrained? The hope of uncontrolled mental development alone is not effective. Targeted mental fitness is the solution. Mindfulness trainings for instance brings a myriad benefit. By freeing yourself from the pressure that comes with pressure on the pitch, you have more energy to reflect and be creative. Stress reduction, however, is just a nice side effect. It also increases health, improves cognitive ability, better focus and clarity of thinking.
Sport Psychologist Birgit Prinz: Personal satisfaction as the basis for team success.
Is the focus on the mental fitness of a player outside the team meaningful? Absolutely says Birgit Prinz. The former striker of the German national team has been awarded three times as world footballer. After her successful football career and a degree in psychology, she began her work as a sports psychologist in 2011. Today she works with the TSG Hoffenheim women’s division. Birgit describes her work this way:
“As a sports psychologist I am focusing on developing the personality of the players, to make sure they can be the best version of themselves on and off the playing-field, without negative thoughts or feelings limiting them. Only if the individuals are feeling good, the team is able to perform.”
Once a week she coaches player on the pitch. This personal contact on the soccer field is very important to her. She always wants to stay in direct contact with the players. If there is a need for 1:1 Prinz looks after the athletes individually. She is convinced that the team can only perform if the individuals are balanced. Since women’s football has grown, topics such as competition for permanent places, pressure to succeed on the pitch, and to some extent public presence are of big interest.
Applying techniques such as mindful breathing can help keep you grounded in the present moment. Being more able to move on from defeats ensures that you can stay fully focused on the next game. Mindfulness teaches us to become aware of the thoughts we have, not in a judgmental way but to simply recognize and observe them.
What should change in training?
In my job there is already the possibility for all employees to take part in mindfulness seminars. As well as media training, mindfulness training or psychological support should be an integral part of professional sport. In women’s football psychological support is included most of the time. In men’s football on the other hand more educational work is needed.
An appeal to female football players “Watch out for yourself!
Be careful with yourself. How you think about yourself influences how good or bad you act on the field. Your ability to manage your concentration and keep your attention on the right things at the right time is critical to your performance in all aspects of your game. Our thoughts determine how we feel. Our brain loves pictures and connects them closely with emotions. By picturing your next game, you can plan responses to different scenarios. And positive images support a healthy self-assurance too.
So next time you’re playing sport and you miss an easy chance, or make a mistake, rather than let negative self-talk and rumination distract you from your game, take a deep breath, center yourself in the present moment and carry on enjoying the game!
Always observe your own actions and thoughts. Does what you are thinking and doing really make you happy?