There are a few necessities swimmers cannot do without...here are 5 reasons how practicing gratitude daily can help them.
Gratitude is more than feeling thankful. It is a deeper gratefulness and creates longer lasting positivity. Gratitude invigorates us. It’s one of the greatest emotions a human can have.
Swimmers are great kids. Now how can this wonderful ‘tool’ help our swimmers?
‘Thank you for tap water in my home’ – Less than half of South African households are estimated to have water piped in their homes.
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means that instilling gratitude in your kids at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people.
5 reasons how practicing gratitude can help swimmers develop an attitude of gratitude
The brain is the most energy consuming part of our body. It uses up to 20% of the body’s energy production. Our brain needs to stay healthy and it needs exercise. There are 24 hours in a day…What do we feed this amazing ‘muscle’ every day?
Let’s discover why practicing gratitude daily can help our swimmers.
- Mental health – A swimmer must have a positive mindset. It’s a no-brainer. But being human, we all go through emotional highs and lows. There are1000’s of thoughts milling in our minds daily. Unfortunately most are negative and we repeat them on a daily basis. Experts call it Automatic Negative Thoughts. (ANTs) So much is written about positive and negative thinking that we can read elsewhere. Let us simplify matters and just concentrate on 2 mental states – a Beautiful (when you feel love, joy and gratitude) and a Miserable (when you are stressed out, angry, depressed, resentful or fearful) state of mind.
Our body makes a type of neurotransmitter called Dopamine. The brain releases it when we experience happiness & pleasure. Let us call it the ‘pleasure booster’ (PB) – Beautiful state of mind.
Then the body also makes Cortisol. Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. This is the bodies ‘stress hormone’ – If not controlled, it can play a part towards a miserable state of mind.
It’s estimated that the brain can store 2,500,000 gigabytes of information. What would we like to have in there? Negative or positive thoughts? Teaching our children to keep a daily gratitude journal and therefore start practicing gratitude regularly, will help them to develop a positive mindset which will lead to the next 4 benefits…
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” — Lao Tzu
2. Self-esteem (Confidence) is NOT self-importance. But what exactly is self-esteem? The expression, self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-respect or personal value. How much do you like yourself? Do you believe in yourself, are you happy about your appearance, behaviors and emotions?
As we enter level 1 of Covid-19, our swimmers might experience the ‘stress hormone’ starting to mess with their minds. I have missed months of practice….and all the other negatives that goes with it start milling in our minds. Are you going to allow the ‘stress hormone’ to chip away your confidence? Aikona!! Time for the ‘pleasure booster’ to take over. Take a walk outside and have a look at one of the 5 wonders in the world…Table Mountain. Think of how blessed you are to live in Cape Town only minutes away from the beach. And some pools are open for training and our own facility will open soon.
Take pen and paper and write down your achievements for the last season and start setting goals how to get back there. ‘I did it before and now I’m going to do it even better’. Eliminate negative thoughts brought on by the ‘stress hormone’ Don’t dwell on the past (6 months) and negative experiences. Identify your needs and work on the confidence to get it. Keep on practicing gratitude, it will boost your self-esteem.
3. Gratitude makes you sleep better.
Beside food and water, sleep is the next essential factor that humans (especially swimmers) need to survive. Sleep also plays a role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake. Feeling grateful helps people sleep better and longer because they have more positive thoughts.
Sleep deprivation directly affects a swimmer’s performance. It has already been proven that a person’s reaction times will be much slower than a well-rested person; therefore, it makes sense to claim that a sleep-deprived swimmer will react and perform much slower in comparison to a well-rested swimmer.
Make a list of things for which you are grateful before going to bed. Practicing this daily will soon result in dozing off quickly and enjoy a peaceful nights sleep and you will feel fresh in the morning ready to tackle anything.
4. Gratitude will lead to a healthier lifestyle
Gratitude is a powerful tool, not just for our minds but also for our bodies. Now that we are practicing gratitude, our mindset, self-esteem, sleeping patterns are all tuned towards positivity…thanks to that wonderful ‘pleasure booster’ transmitter. We are feeling good about ourselves!
Good self-esteem will automatically drive you to treat your body with respect.
Thoughts are always with us. They consume us throughout our day. In moments of mindfulness, you can focus on how you behave with them. On your way to the pool, while you do your stretching exercises before your warm-up, let the nervous, sad and stressful thoughts come. Note them, reflect on them, then focus on letting them go as you then go full out in practice giving 100%.
Complete living is a balance of your mind, body, and spirit…Holistic swimming is where you balance your life in and out of the water to maximize your ability to lead a more fulfilling life.
Eat well-balanced meals and give 100% effort at swim practice and everything else in life. It will make you feel good and strong. Be thankful for what you are now and keep fighting for what you want to be.
5. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
We live in a world where the ability to understand and share the feelings of others are lacking.
How we experience the world is intensely shaped by who and what surround us on a daily basis. Today that can include more virtual, social media friends than physical ones. “You are who you meet.” How we perceive, experience, and act in the world is intensely shaped by who and what surround us on a daily basis—our families, communities, institutions, beliefs, and role models.
‘I’m thankful my childhood was filled with imagination & bruises from playing outside instead of apps and how many likes you get on a pic”
Cyberbullying is real. So is social ‘aggression’. We cannot be with our children 24/7. Although keeping our kids inside a protective bubble will spare us a lot of anxiety, playing it too safe teaches our children that fear must be avoided at all times.
Build trust with your children. Set time limits, explain your reasons for them, and discuss rules for online safety and Internet use. Ask your children to contribute to establishing the rules, then they will be more inclined to follow them. Don’t threaten to take away your children’s phone or computer if they come to you with a problem. This only forces kids to be more secretive.
Grateful children are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kind to them. Gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others. Gratitude is an antidote to aggression. Gratitude will shift our swimmers to a higher frequency, and they will attract much better things.
The takeaway – Gratitude is a wonderful remedy. Help your child affirm all the good in the world, so that even on their worst days, they will see that they have much to feel thankful for.
It will improve your mood and punch stress in the face.
With the workload in the pool, at school and what passes for a social life it can be understandable that your average swimmer gets a little cranky at times. With the never-ending pile of assignments and training on the horizon it can be hard to stop and smell the roses.
Setting aside a few moments each day to recount your blessings instead of your burdens, can help improve your mood and coping ability with stress. Your swimming will thank you.