What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you hear the word “fitness”?
A perfect body with a six-pack? A lean figure who eats veggies and fruits? Maybe a body free of disease?
Having your body in physically great shape is important… But, you’ve missed something equally as important. Your mental fitness.
Your mind can’t go to the gym and do crunches or squats to get better. The mind does not work that way—which means you need to take care of it just like you take care of your body.
Many of us assume that the term fitness only refers to a healthy body. And to achieve that, we are constantly on our toes doing various activities every day to stay fit.
But when it comes to mental fitness, all we hear is the sound of crickets. 🦗
Now is the time! Enough of taking your mental fitness for granted and suffering in silence. It is time for action!
Today we’ll talk about the benefits of mental fitness, its importance, and how to achieve that in your life.
What is mental fitness, and how does it work?
What does it mean to be mentally fit? What is the actual definition of mental fitness?
Mental fitness is a healthy state of well-being. It’s a cultivation of awareness… allowing us to see how we think, behave and respond to our environment.
Just like physical fitness, mental fitness also offers us a better quality of life, allowing us to live in harmony with ourselves. It provides a new and incredible perspective to choose how to respond to a situation that works best for ourselves, and avoid any emotional injury.
Let’s understand mental fitness by taking a look at a normal day-to-day example. You argued with your best friend. Now you are hurt by what he said and feel it was rude and unexpected. And in return, you say something awful— eventually hurting each other.
In the situation mentioned above, you had two choices—turn reactive and hurt him back or you could have taken a moment, paused, and responded in a way that you don’t regret later. Mental fitness gives you that wisdom where you can analyze and respond correctly and calmly.
As humans, we are exposed to a lot of stimuli. If we are mentally fit, we’re most likely to respond and react in a way that saves our energy and helps us do something fruitful.
But how often can we avoid the temptation? Do you feel it’s impossible to achieve a state of mind where you decide where you want to invest your energy or not?
Here is the good news! If you start working towards your mental fitness, you can reach this state of mind.
According to research by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, specific memory training exercises can increase “fluid intelligence”–the ability to reason and solve new problems. With practice, you can keep your emotional and mental centered.
And no, it doesn’t help you ace your test or win an Olympic medal—that’s a different topic. But mental fitness can help you to stay sane and keep working on your goals.
Benefits of mental fitness
Mental fitness improves the quality of your life. Here are some of the significant benefits that come with honing your mental fitness:
- Better sleep. Research states that mental fitness can improve sleep quality and fix your unhealthy sleeping schedules.
- Inculcate good habits. A healthy mind is the way to a healthy life. When you have a healthy mind, learning new and good habits gets easier. You can self-evaluate and work towards being a better person and achieving your goals.
- Boosts your confidence. Mental fitness fills you with upbeat optimism. And that contributes to you being more confident and makes you believe in yourself and your abilities. Not only this, it helps you to be more empathetic and kind to the people around you.
- Cognitive function. When you are mentally fit, you are likely able to focus better, communicate well and manage your work in a more productive way. It helps you to perform better and keep ticking off your professional and personal goals.
- Promotes mindfulness. Mental fitness helps you be mindfully present, allowing you to retain information and deal with life’s obstacles in a healthy manner.
Importance of mental fitness
Did you know that our chimp brain produces three negative talks to one positive one, which sometimes results in cognitive errors? Also, when we go to bed, our body takes a rest, but our minds do not follow.
Do you know someone who never listens or seems lost? Poor mental fitness might be the reason why. Poor mental fitness can lead to polarized thinking where the person cuts themselves off from the present environment.
Moreover, our mind loves assumptions. It stores such assumptions, which builds into guilt or obligations, and if unaddressed, these errors can lead to significant disruptions in our professional and personal lives. It can also affect your self-esteem and make you utterly unproductive. It affects how we view life and eventually makes us hate ourselves.
So, practicing mental fitness activities can help us to prevent such discrepancies and keep us sane.
Ways to become mentally fit
The best way to prevent mind flogging is to practice mindfulness. And what could be better than meditation? Start with five minutes a day and choose a time according to your schedule. Be consistent, and you will notice that five minutes will show a significant change in your life. If you find it hard to concentrate, you can begin by downloading meditation apps such as headspace for better results.
Journaling plays a vital role in inculcating optimism and positive emotions in your life. You don’t need fancy diaries or journals to get started; a plain word document or a notebook would be great. Please keep it in a place where it is easily accessible and keep doing it regularly. You will feel better.
- Start setting boundaries
To save yourself from burnout, you should start setting boundaries in your life. Keep at least 20 minutes a day for yourself. Do self-care, go back to your long-lost hobby, and explore yourself.
- Avoid multi-tasking
Multi-tasking is a time killer. It messes with your daily life, keeping you anxious and worried all the time. It also makes you unproductive and weakens your concentration. So, focus on one task, and once done, you can move to the next. Several apps can help you to concentrate better. Get your hands on them and say goodbye to multi-tasking.
- Try out positive affirmations
Positive affirmations can promote good thoughts in your mind. We are exposed to so much content in the social media world that makes us question our worth. So, practicing positive affirmations can help you boost your self-confidence and have faith in yourself.
- Read more
Reading fiction can help you imagine and visualize. And imagination is the first step to defog your mind. Research also states that reading can help your brain to relax and process information better.
- Explore new things
Exploring new things can help you get rid of the monotony. Try out different activities, or foods, or talk to new people. Doing this will help you feel better and energize you to take charge of the day.
The final word
Mental fitness and our emotional health should be our main priorities.
The uncertainty around us makes us anxious all the time, so we need to notice our emotional health.
Start by taking baby steps every day, and you will start seeing results within no time.
You don’t need to spend money, or go out, or do fancy things.
All you need is patience and determination.
So, start today and keep going. I know you can do it!
Suhana Siddika, Clinical Nutritionist
Health Trends Alert