Simple ways to practice mental fitnessWe are all told to remember to get our 30 minutes per day of physical exercise – but we need to remember to take care of our minds as well!
By: By Amy Reineke, Public Health educator, Alexandria Echo Press
We are all told to remember to get our 30 minutes per day of physical exercise – but we need to remember to take care of our minds as well!
Throughout our day, we have plenty of ‘stressors’ that have a grand effect on our body and mind. We need to remember to think about our emotional wellbeing.
Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognize that dedicating even a short time every day to your mental fitness will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and confident.
Here are some simple ways to practice mental fitness:
Exercise. Regular physical activity improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety. Joining an exercise group or a gym can also reduce loneliness, since it connects you with a new set of people sharing a common goal.
Set personal goals. Goals don’t have to be ambitious. You might decide to finish that book you started three years ago; to take a walk around the block every day; to learn to knit or play bridge. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction.
Cope with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can be very powerful. Learn to interrupt them. Don’t try to block them, but don’t let them take over. Try distracting yourself or comforting yourself, if you can’t solve the problem right away.
Daydream. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Wrap yourself in a sensation of peace and tranquility.
One thing at a time. For example, when you are out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and stop making that mental “to do” list. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells you encounter.
Enjoy hobbies/start a new hobby. Taking up a hobby brings balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday tasks. It also keeps your brain active.
Keep a journal (or even talk to the wall). Expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.
Remember to laugh. Life often gets too serious, so when you hear or see something that makes you smile or laugh, share it with someone you know. A little humor can go a long way to keeping us mentally fit!
Volunteer. Volunteering is called the “win-win” activity because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. At the same time, it widens our social network, provides us with new learning experiences and can bring balance to our lives.
Treat yourself well. Cook yourself a good meal. Have a bubble bath. See a movie. Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in ages. Sit on a park bench and relax. Whatever it is, do it just for you.