Galen was a standout his first season at the YMCA, when he was 8. The next year we signed up for the club team, which turned our six-week rec league season into six months of intense tournament play. He played in a 3-on-3 league over the summer and, at the conclusion of the club season the following spring, he began playing with an Amateur Athletic Union team, a national youth sports organization that, in addition to increasing the level of competition also expanded our travel radius to a tristate region. But while I (most of the time) looked forward to swimming practices and meets, the chance to test my mettle against my peers, basketball tournaments made Galen nothing but miserable. “Maybe it’s time to quit,” I said. “If I quit basketball, what sport do I play?” Galen asked. “How about NO sport,” I said. You can play basketball with friends all you want, but you don’t have to play on a team. “Every kid at my school plays something.” If he didn’t have a sport, he continued, “I’ll be a nobody.” “I’m only trying to consider how our light is spent,” I told Galen. He didn’t become a nobody or stop being an athlete.
You know you need to exercise your body to improve your health. But what about giving your mind a workout? Or should we say, a cool down. A strong, less-stressed mental state can be just as important to your well-being as bumping up your physical activity, considering research links chronic anxiousness to obesity and sleepless nights. Yet many of us still don’t put tension relief on our priority lists. In fact, one in five Americans say they never do an activity focused on helping them manage stress.
The great news is that exercising your mind doesn’t have to involve anything vigorous. Better yet, all you need to make it happen is a mere five minutes — plus one of these guided meditations.
Why You Need Meditation for Mental Strength
Many studies give meditation the seal of approval — and not just for stress relief. (Though it does provide a serious dose of calm.) Research has shown that a few minutes of mindfulness can enhance your focus, help you make healthier lifestyle choices and even catch better zzz’s. And all of these advantages can help bring down your stress levels.
To help you use meditation to hone in…