Mental fitness refers to your state of well-being, level of cognitive functioning, and ability to cope with the psychological and emotional demands of everyday life. Just as physical fitness is important in maintaining bodily endurance, strength, flexibility, and weight, mental fitness has a direct correlation to your mental and emotional health. It’s important to maintain your mental fitness so that you can better meet, handle, and overcome daily psychosocial hardships. From coping with stress and drawing healthy boundaries to being present and building a sharper mind, your mental fitness makes you, in essence, you.
Here are ways to maintain your mental fitness:
Games and Puzzles: Sudoku, crosswords, and any other game or puzzle that relies on logic, words, math, or strategy are fun ways to get your brain thinking. Even just 15 minutes of solving puzzles a day has proven to stave off mental and cognitive decline.
Meditation: Meditating connects your body with your mind and can help bring you inner peace. Stress-reduction, mental and emotional clarity, tranquility, and an increased self-awareness are some of the biggest benefits of meditation.
Reading: Books, with their expansive imagery and detailed prose, push your imagination, which stimulates brain activity. In addition to cognitive stimulation, reading increases your vocabulary and knowledge, boosts your memory and focus, and provides stress and tension relief.
Learn Something New: When you learn new skills, you work multiple areas of your brain. From memory and muscle memory to mental connections and engagement, your brain is active whenever you take on something new. Additionally, there’s an increase in personal adaptability, resilience, and overall a heightened sense of accomplishment.
Physical Exercise: Similar to learning new skills, physical exercise taps into the areas of your brain related to muscle memory and cognition. On top of that, physiological responses—like changes in insulin levels, reduction in inflammation, and a boost in endorphins—improve the health of your brain cells by stimulating cell growth and survival.
Gratitude: Research in psychology overwhelmingly links gratitude with feeling a greater sense of happiness and well-being. Many corollary benefits of practising gratitude include improved sleep, a decrease in stress, a boost in self-esteem, and an openness to life. One of the easiest ways of incorporating gratitude into your mental fitness routine is keeping a thankfulness journal. Take time each day to jot down what you’re grateful for; the key is to do it with intention and savour the experiences you’re writing down.
Let Go: This one isn’t always the easiest to do, especially when heightened emotions are involved. Learning to let go requires you to practise recognizing when things are out of your control, when what you’re thinking isn’t necessarily the reality of the situation, and when it’s time to choose your own well-being and walk away. It takes a strong sense of self, mindfulness, and presence to be able to mentally tone down the impulse to give in to your emotions. However, learning to let go will prove to be one of the healthiest skills you could ever have.
Jericho Tadeo | Contributing Writer