The Importance of Mental Rest for Athletes

Published by Susan Zaro on

The Importance of Mental Rest for Athletes

“You’re not doing everything you can to succeed if you aren’t taking care of your recovery.” (unknown)

The article, “How to Help Athletes Get the Mental Rest Needed to Perform Well and Stay Healthy” in the Journal of Sport Psychology in Action is a useful guide. The article lists several areas to address mental rest which aids recovery and ongoing skill learning. The highlights of this article include descriptions of mental rest and strategies to obtain it. A few of these are: 

Sleep: Sleep is critical for overall mental health. Quality of sleep affects an athlete’s cognitive functions, such as judgment, decision making and reaction time. The authors mention that the amount of sleep is specific to each individual. Along with tracking an athlete’s sleep, “wakeful resting” experiences contribute to the mental recovery process. Wakeful rest includes:

1)  Taking a break from thinking about your sport. “A psychological experience comprising a process of resting is the experience of not thinking about your sport.” Often easier said than done. Strategies for this include, engaging in low demand activities such as listening to music, taking a walk in nature, reading a book, being with family/friends.

2) “Getting a break from feeling like their life is controlled by sport.” The authors recommend planning ahead for “me time” during which the athlete can do exactly what they want on their own time. 

3) “Having a personal life outside of sport.” Due to scheduling commitments athlete’s often have limited time to spend with family and friends and participate in outside interests. The author’s research reveal that athlete’s who take a rest day and attend to an activity outside of their sport feel more mental rested. 

On the surface these tips seem obvious. But when they are examined in relationship to the overall health and well-being make-up of the athletes, ratio to training, competition and recovery balance this is an area that can create a competitive advantage. 

For additional tips check out the article.

Taking time for friends/photo credit to CandyRetriever
Sleep is essential for rest & recovery for athlete’s. Photo credit to Sharon McCutcheon

Planning a day of outside activities/photo credit to Grant Door