The gym. Weights. Jogging.
It’s what often comes to mind first when you hear about ‘fitness’. We associate fitness with physical activity because of the strong health and wellbeing benefits.
But what if you applied the same fitness logic to the mind?
Yes, it’s possible to be physically fit and mentally fit. An awesome union of the body and mind.
What is mental fitness?
Mental fitness is when you keep your brain and emotional health in good shape; there are no I.Q. tests involved but the occasional game of Wordle counts. Mental fitness can influence how you act, think and feel, and how you choose to process stress and anxiety.
The goal is to create thought patterns and practise daily habits to help experience more positive emotions on a regular basis.
Take for example, a busy day at work. Mental fitness gives you the tools to pause, stay calm and be mindful of your actions rather than let anger, stress or negative thoughts overwhelm.
The ability to stay in control of your thoughts and feelings is a testament to mental fitness.
What are the benefits of mental fitness?
There are many benefits to mental fitness. An increase in the activities associated with mental fitness may help lower stress and anxiety and give you a sense of purpose and control throughout the day.
Mental fitness is important because it establishes habits that condition your mind to find ways to slow down and decompress. It allows your mind to focus and keep your life in perspective.
How to exercise mental fitness
There are simple ways to work on your mental fitness and these activities only take a few minutes each day.
Gratitude: Take a moment each day to acknowledge the things you’re grateful for in your life. Gratefulness my help to keep your day in perspective and reinforce positive memories.
Keep a journal: To quote Madonna: “express yourself”. She’s right. When you write down how you feel it may help to process emotions. You can keep tabs on moments or behaviours that bring on negative emotions and figure out strategies to cope when they reoccur. It’s also a great way to highlight what works and give yourself praise – don’t forget to celebrate.
Sleep: Your body needs sleep so your mind can process the day. While you sleep your brain does a lot of important mental chores to refresh the mind for the next day. Adults should aim for seven hours or more sleep on a regular basis.
Mindfulness: Be present and stay in the moment; that’s mindfulness. It’s a type of meditation where you’re aware of what you sense and feel at any given moment. Mindfulness may help to reduce stress because your attention stays in the moment and your thoughts won’t drift to negative places.
Breathe: Practise deep breathing exercises regularly because it encourages your body to relax. It’s a great way to ease tension and put your mind at ease.
New hobbies: Pick an activity you love or something you want to try. The focus on this activity will keep your mind active and create a positive experience because it’s not a chore or work. Your chosen hobby will give you space to stay in the moment, focus and enjoy yourself.
Read: When you open a book you focus on the story and characters. It’s like a creative form of mindfulness because your imagination gets to play, and it keeps your mind active with visualisations. Try to carve out uninterrupted time in your day to read.
Play: Let a game hold your attention. It could be a word game, a boardgame or a card game. These games help you stay present and keep your mind stimulated.
Tasks: Make a ‘one task’ rule to avoid multitasking. When you try to juggle multiple tasks at once it may lead to stress and muddled thoughts. When you focus on one task at a time you think clearly and get a better sense of accomplishment when you tick it off your to-do list.
Try to combine a mixture of these activities throughout your day. Each activity contributes to your mental fitness.