We all know how to maintain our physical fitness. But, have you thought about your mental fitness?
Essentially, mental fitness is the process of keeping your brain in shape!
We all recognise the importance of maintaining a healthy, active body so it’s time to give the same TLC to our minds.
Mental fitness explained
Let’s break it down.
Mental fitness means maintaining good brain and emotional health, and is done so by way of mind exercises that assist in calming you down, boosting memory, increasing positive emotions and decreasing stress.
Working on your mental fitness also helps you decide on how you respond to certain situations – especially challenging ones, like an disagreement with a loved one for example. It will also give you the skills to navigate these situations, and move through them without sustaining emotional injury, or even causing it for someone else.
What being mentally fit looks like
There are a number of factors that demonstrate your mental fitness.
Setting healthy boundaries
You can positively set, maintain and alter boundaries between your life and your relationships with others.
Improved cognitive function
Your memory, concentration, communication and time management skills are performing at their best and it’s having a positive impact not only personally, but professionally too.
With improved mental fitness comes better sleep as you’re experience less stress and restlessness. Better sleep will then help you rest and recharge your brain!
This isn’t saying you have to be smiling ear-to-ear all the time! It means that you can look at life’s experiences objectively and optimistically. You’ll have clearer thinking and more self and social awareness, that often results in kinder and more compassionate thoughts.
When you have the ability to reframe your thoughts and beliefs to be more positive and objective, this also impacts how you view yourself. This can encourage more self-confidence and self-compassion.
Building stronger relationships
Because your own thinking has shifted, you’ll surround yourself with a community of people who not only think similarly but positively challenge your thinking, and vice versa. This also means you’ll experience more support and nurturing within your relationships.
Activities to build mental fitness
Ok, so you know why mental fitness is important, now we need to work on how to get mentally fit!
Positive affirmations are so important for building that self-love component of mental fitness. Start making a list, or putting sticky notes on your mirrors, with the positive elements you see in yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, it’s about acknowledging your strengths. Reiterating these will boost your self-confidence.
Play mind games. Well, not kind! Think crosswords, Sudoku, Scrabble, or anything that gets your brain ticking!
Physical activity is a great helper for mental fitness – go figure! Exercise can help reduce depression, anxiety and stress.
Eating a balanced, nutritious diet containing a variety of fruits and vegetables has been shown to support brain health – along with many other physical health benefits of course.
Staying hydrated is crucial in maintaining optimal cognitive function.
Stop multitasking. You might think working on more than one thing at a time is productive, but it’s usually quite the opposite. Focusing on one task at hand will improve your concentration, attention to detail and productivity.
Reading is great for your brain as it not only helps you relax, and in some cases transport you to another ‘world’, it also helps you visualise what you’re reading – imagining what character voices sound like, what scenarios look like and so on.
Meditation allows your mind to purely focus on the here and now, and notice your thoughts and emotions while also aiding in letting the negative ones go. If you’ve never meditated before, there are plenty of apps and podcasts out there that can help you. And you don’t need to meditate for long periods of time, as little as 5-10 minutes daily is great! Just be consistent with it to notice the benefits.