got BEEF?

This post is made easy by OrthoCarolina as a part of our hygge cares programming, where each month we focus on different wellness topics with programming. Learn more about what that’s all about here.

If you’ve played much basketball, or ever had a good basketball coach, the concept of BEEF is probably a familiar one to you. It’s the phrase going through most people’s minds as they get ready to shoot their free throws: balance, eyes, elbow, follow-through. 

If only everything in life had such a simple formula for success, right? 

2019 has been a tough year for a few different reasons, and it’s been a lot to handle. Come mid-summer I needed something to get it all out – an outlet that let my mind race like it always seemed to be doing anyway, but also served as a distraction and maybe even some kind of brief escape from stress or drama or whatever might be going on. 

For me, that thing has always been basketball. I played a lot of basketball through high school, and at a certain period basketball was all I cared about in life…my grades reflected that. Ever since then I’ve gone through periods of getting back into it when I need it most, and this year has been no different. So, to this day when I need to get away and have some mindless time, I go back to the same thing I’ve done for years…I go shoot free throws.

BEEF has become a large part of my life the last 6 months. This roller coaster of a year has been tough, but in the times I need it, BEEF is there. When I go to the court it’s usually empty, but its always welcoming. And I just shoot free throws – at least 100, sometimes up to 500, and keep track of my shooting percentage for each 100 shots. 

The days I’m most motivated to get out on the court and take an hour to shoot some free throws are the ones when I’m feeling down or negative, when I need to blow off some steam. It starts with a 10 minute walk to the park near my house, which is just a nice way to get my blood pumping and get out some of the energy I need to when I’m feeling angsty. 

From there, the free throws become methodical. There’s something about having BEEF to fall back on. It’s easy. The same motion over and over again and slipping back into old habits that leave me energized as a kid, and that helps with whatever is on my mind. It doesn’t solve any problems by any means, but it gives me an opportunity to think through them without whatever it is that’s bugging me totally taking over my mind. Maybe it’s the sense of feeling that you have all of the tools and complete control of executing something successfully. There aren’t many areas of life that we can fully control, but if you stick to BEEF, you’re definitely set up for success from the foul line.

That’s why I like this form of wellness in particular. I’ve had others on the court ask me if I’d like to join their pickup games or run full court. I don’t have the knees or the stamina for that these days, but even beyond that, shooting baskets solo allows me the opportunity to think about things, but not let them take over and become consuming. If I’m in a bad mood or frustrated by something at work or at home, I can be thinking of that in the back of my mind, but the front of my mind is still BEEF. 

And don’t get me wrong, shooting baskets for me isn’t all negative. I don’t only get out on the court on the bad days when I need to work off some stress, but also on the days when I need some time to come up with ideas or figure out solutions to problems. Some days it’s simply because I enjoy shooting free throws…nothing else.

It’s also just some time I can carve out that’s just for me. I think we all feel sometimes like our schedules are not our own – like we’re at the mercy of our meetings or our jobs or appointments. Heading to the park with a basketball is an easy way for me to get out of the house when I’m bored and not sure what else to do. When in doubt, there is always the court. 

This isn’t something I do to reach a goal – my free throw percentage still isn’t where it was when I was in high school, though I am getting it back up there. I don’t go to the park to get physically fit, though the physical benefits from the light exercise I get from the walk and chasing the ball around is great. But I like to think that as the months have gone on and my percentage has improved, so has my mental health. 

Okay, okay, maybe that’s just wishful thinking. What’s not imagined is the real effect this has on my mental health. I feel better when I get outside and do something I’ve loved for so long. And, maybe there’s something more we could all get out of BEEF. Balance, eyes, elbow, follow-through? Sounds like there might be some other life applications hidden in there somewhere…but I’m not sure about elbow? Have to think about that one.

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