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Mindfulness

How you can turn negative emotions into positives
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We need to be mentally and physically strong, it’s equally important
PV Sindhu
Badminton (IND)
Rio 2016 Silver Medallist
You might have heard of 'mindfulness' before but what does it actually mean? This surprisingly simple practice is a little bit like meditation – and many Olympic superstars swear by its benefits.
In the simplest terms, mindfulness helps to make you more aware of your thoughts, emotions and feelings in the present moment. It can help everyone, regardless of your ability, too!
Mindfulness is about being aware of physical sensations and that’s why many Olympians use it to optimise their training.
Once an athlete has stepped onto the field, having the awareness to focus on the information that their body sends to their brain can help them to leap ahead of their competition.
Being emotionally aware is key to success on the field. A high level of mindfulness means athletes can recognise warnings like injuries and their emotional state. With this information they can direct their attention onto things that help their performance.
But it can also unlock opportunities for you, too. You don’t have to be a world-class Olympian to benefit from this technique.

This awareness can be trained and a good place to start is to learn to become more aware of your breathing – a practice known as mindful breathing. Try this simple brain training game which will help you to embrace frustrations and focus more, just by using these mindful breathing techniques!
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Learning to block out distractions requires regular practice, so you should keep improving every time you play the game.
Begin by controlling your breathing and slowly start to increase your awareness of your body. Looking inwards can help to cancel out what is around you. Soon, you will have Olympian levels of mindfulness!
When something is not going your way, whether that be in a sporting competition or just in school or at work, the temptation can be to angrily blame someone or something. One of the keys to mindfulness is try to understand negative emotions – bad feelings serve a purpose, and can even help to push you towards success.

In athletes, a flaring temper is often viewed as a sign that they have lost control – and will usually be met by a coach or teammate trying to calm them down. But what if that is exactly not what you should do? This tension might be exactly what you need to perform like a champion. Olympians who use their anger at the right times are more emotionally intelligent and this is how they rise above their competition.
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There is a reason why we feel emotions; they are useful. Understanding those uses can put you ahead of your rivals. If your goal is to confront or compete with someone else then losing your temper can be useful. People who make themselves feel angry in the right contexts, because they are aware of the advantages, are using their emotions like tools.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can fly off the handle at your teacher! But understanding that anger is a natural human emotion and learning how best to channel it into something positive, rather than expressing it negatively or even violently, could have a real impact on your day-to-day life.

Three things you can do right now to be more mindful

Three things you can do right now to be more mindful

01
Try simple meditation. Take 5 full minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breathing.
02
Go for a walk. Take some time to be aware of your body's movement as you go.
03
Eat mindfully. Put down the book, turn off the TV, close your computer and focus on the food you're eating!
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To really be in touch with your abilities, you have to feel the negative emotions
Jordan Burroughs
Wrestling (USA)
London 2012 Gold Medallist
“Emotions are not these pre-programmed monsters that take over. That’s not how emotions work,” says psychologist Maya Tamir.
Emotionally intelligent people are people who understand what emotions do and are able to manipulate that to their benefit.
If we know that when we are angry we are really focussed and energetic, if you know that what gets you burning up and going is to feel anger well let’s pump up that anger and use it. Nobody knows us as well as we do.

Whether channelling your frustrations, or using breathing techniques to keep yourself calm, mindfulness is a long-term commitment which takes time, but just by learning to be more aware of your emotions you’ve already taken the first big step!