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The Key to This Soccer Player’s Recovery? Mental Fitness.

Men's Health logo Men's Health 6 days ago Vanessa Etienne

We've all heard of buzzy"self-care." But true self-care is more than just meditation apps and whatever-the-hell-mindfulness-is. Sometimes, it's just about allowing yourself time to recover. Pro soccer player and defender for Toronto FC, Omar Gonzalez, gets it. During the latest Friday Sessions on our Instagram, co-host Gregory Scott Brown, M.D., spoke with Gonzalez about the importance of recovery for our mental health.

Like a lot of professional athletes, Gonzalez says he copes with the overwhelming pressure of having to perform. Unfortunately, the 32-year-old had to learn the hard way that it takes being proactive in order to be on top of your game. It was only after tearing his ACL in 2012 that Gonzalez changed his mindset and started to take the proper time to let his body recover after workouts.

“People just go, go, go,” he said.“They think that they have to go 100 percent every single time. But if you do that, and you don’t spend the time to recover and to take care of yourself, you’re going to break down pretty quick.”

Now, Gonzalez is prioritizing meditation and eliminating his anxiety triggers during his downtime. According to him,“Your body can feel ready but if your mind’s not primed and ready to take on that challenge or that game, it’s just not going to be a good day for you."

“We see athletes like Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Cristiano Ronaldo doing great things at higher ages,” he continued.“People want to emulate them and what are they doing? Taking care of their bodies. They’re watching what they’re eating, they’re watching what’s causing inflammation, and they’re getting hands-on treatment.”

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And while it’s important for professional athletes, allowing your body to rest and recuperate is worth it for anyone who lives an active lifestyle. When it comes to self-care, Gonzalez suggests getting enough sleep and keeping your mind at ease. That’s how he plans on continuing his soccer career for the next several years, and we'd say that's a valuable lesson for anyone who isn't a pro soccer player.

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