Going the distance

Concentration and conditioning keep you in the game

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. February 20, 2014

Much of the world is fascinated with the Winter Olympics. Athletes have devoted years of their lives to one performance, one run down the mountain, one event.

Overwhelming evidence suggests that most of these performers are essentially equal in terms of physical ability. Their strength, dexterity and coordination are all about the same. So what is the difference between those who win gold and those who do not? And what can we mere mortals learn from them as we struggle with the stress and disappointments of life?

Sports psychologists emphasize two key dimensions:

  • Conditioning. Athletes train to become fit and build up endurance. This gives them that bounce back factor. You may not be an elite athlete but you can do yourself a favor by taking better care of your health. When you are in poor health, your resiliency suffers. Medical problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, take a toll physically and mentally. Do your best to prevent them by being physically active (walk 30 minutes most days of the week), following a plant-based diet and getting enough sleep.
  • Concentration. Text messages, the web, blogs and tweets are like a flood sweeping over us. Athletes know they need to be able to shut out the outside world so they can focus on what they're trying to achieve. Periodically, you too need to unplug, eliminating screen and computer time, for a brief reprieve to heal your heart and soul.

No, this is not brain surgery or rocket science, but if you don't take care of yourself and pay attention, the wounds of disappointment and loss will never really heal. The choice is yours.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Feb. 20, 2014