Mental fitness is a lot like physical fitness: it essential for healthy living, should be performed everyday, and it should be taken seriously. Despite the similarity between the two, though, mental fitness is different than physical fitness in many respects. After all, we don’t have dumbbells for the brain, nor do we have a 10-mile trail to commit to, right? Right.
Even without the equipment and track, though, there are a couple major things you can be doing daily to improve your mental fitness. From approaching your health holistically to exercising the brain with daily stressors, you can be sure you’re getting everything you need for a rock solid mind.
Number 1. Be Holistic in Your Approach – Physical Fitness is essential!
First off, it should be noted that a major part of mental fitness is physical fitness. Simply put, in order to have a healthy mind, you need a healthy body. The mind depends on physiological balances, adequate upkeep through proper nutrition, and opportunity to define the limits of one’s ability. Getting on board with a regular exercise regimen is essential!
But wait, does that mean I can’t keep a regular schedule? Not at all! It’s easy to get something started in the morning, keep it regular throughout the day, and finish it off nicely at night. For example, take 20 or 30 minutes in the morning to stretch, do a few yoga poses, and jog around the block. While at work, be sure to get up and stretch every hour or so to keep the blood flowing. You can even make it a mission to run to your car at lunch! Finally, stretch again at night and maybe close it off with some push ups, sit ups, pull ups, and a final jog.
Overall, you’re getting around 1-2 hours of exercise in tiny bits and pieces. Perfect for a busy schedule, perfect for a healthy mind!
Number 2. Practice Better Thinking
When you’re done with “regular” exercise, though, there are some mental gymnastics you want to do in regards to your thinking. Everyday, you’ll be bombarded with stressors, challenges, conflicts of morality, and much, much more. There are three mental tools to keep in mind when dealing with these oh-so-common vicissitudes: trust, acceptance, and virtue.
Everyday, you want to practice trust. Trust is essential in business relationships, marriages, friendships – indeed it is essential for all things important. It can be tough to trust, though, especially if you have felt betrayed. But that can’t bring you down! Be open, thoughtful, candid, and yourself. Tell the person how you feel and provide the opportunity to grow trust with other, new people.
A part of trust and mental wellness is acceptance. Truth is, you don’t always get what you want. Frankly speaking, it’s actually the case that you often do not get what you want! Part of this is the interesting case that everyone wishes everything could be perfect in their world. Perfect, unfortunately, only exists in abstract – not in reality, and not in humans. Accept this! So what if things don’t always go your way? The real test of character is pushing forward with courage, strength, and optimism.
Virtue is a big blanket term. To Aristotle, it meant the balance point between a deficiency and an excess of a trait. To us, it involves prudence, temperance, justice, patience, honor, discipline, and so much more. If anything, for your mental health, take these virtues into consideration. Work toward them in your daily life. In addition to awareness, this will provide you with goals and mental solace. There is something greater to be working toward in life: that’s virtue.
Number 3. Train your Brain, Fuel it Right
In addition to the “best practices” mentioned above, you also want to be doing some regular housekeeping for the brain. That means stressing it, challenging it, and helping it grow. There are two sides to this: the exercise and the fuel.
For exercise, make a point to read and write everyday. Keep a journal (maybe for thoughts or dreams or notes), read a good newspaper or news site to keep updated in the world, and keep a novel at hand for free time. This, maybe with a dash of math or science related focus, will help keep you sharp and witty. For the math and science, it’s easy sit back and absorb a documentary or lecture. Just plug in your headphones and listen while you make food or fold laundry.
For fuel, eat wholesome, healthy, organic foods. When it’s not organic, you risk exposing yourself to synthetic chemical pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and GMOs. Instead of going down that road, provide your brain with food you know is healthy and real. If you’re wondering what your meals should look like, check out what Dr. Berka has to say about the most important meal.