Maintaining your mental fitness is challenging in the best of times. But when life gets challenging many times, our mind shifts into survival mode, and all of our good intentions can easily fall by the wayside.
We get caught up in the daily grind of taking care of everyone and everything else, and we forget to take care of ourselves. At times like this, it’s easy not to pay attention to what we eat when we exercise, or how we stimulate our brains, which is a necessity that’s almost always overlooked.
Just like our bodies need exercise to stay fit and strong, our brains also need a good daily workout to ensure that our brain cells remain healthy and vibrant well into our golden years. Being proactive about your health and taking matters into your own hands can mean the difference between aging gracefully and withering away.
Staying mentally healthy enables you to stay attentive, efficiently manage your relationships, and deal with challenges and stress. It also helps you connect with who you are as a person and allow you to take pride in yourself and your abilities even when the going gets tough.
5 ways to stay mentally fit:
1. Create New Healthy Habits
The mind craves routine and loves something to look forward to. For example, the simple task of writing down your goals can keep you mentally alert. It gives you something to plan and look forward to. It also keeps you engaged in something that boosts your brain cells while giving you an emotional outlet.
Experiment with something new every month. It could be a new hobby or new exercise routine that you are curious about. Challenge yourself to read a different book each month or experiment with a new healthy recipe every now and then. You can create new habits around these activities that are mentally stimulating and enjoyable.
These tasks keep your mind on alert, mainly because you’re engaging in the process of learning, and, in addition, because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. All these factors help boost concentration levels, as well as your confidence in your abilities to try new things, meet new people and develop new habits.
2. Prioritize Learning
Numerous studies have shown the correlation between the amount of knowledge you absorb and the wellness of your cognitive function.
Nowadays, information can be retrieved with the touch of a button, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in countless books, podcasts, articles, and even mentally stimulating games, such as jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, and a wide range of others.
When you learn something new or engage in any sort of mental activity, you build new neural pathways in the brain, and the more connections each of our neurons have with other neurons, the more perceptive it is.
3. Exercise Often, Preferably Outdoors
Regular exercise releases feel-good hormones into your bloodstream, boosting your mood, and elevating memory and concentration levels.
Mixing up workout styles or trying out a new walking route helps form new patterns in your brain which means more neural pathways and less cognitive decline. To make the most of exercising, try taking your workout to the nearest park where you can connect more with nature, breathe in some fresh air, and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is known for its ability to prevent depression. Plus, any type of physical activity helps eliminate brain fog, boost energy levels, and alleviate stress.
4. Consciously Manage Stress
Make a conscious effort to manage the stress in your life. We are living at a time that stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. You could be suffering from hidden stress without fully realizing the impact that it’s having on you and those around you. If you are a realistic optimist, like me, sometimes stress can be hard to detect. Schedule times for deep thought and be honest with yourself about how you are really feeling.
Anxiety is closely related to depression as well. Depression can manifest as simply feeling a little sad to a lack of motivation. Also, beware that extreme stress response can manifest as anger targeted to the ones we love most. Stress can wreak havoc on our closest relationships, causing loved ones to distance themselves from us.
We all deal with some degree of stress and anxiety on a daily basis. But when cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are left unchecked, they start messing with your overall wellbeing. That’s why it’s smart to invest a few minutes each day in releasing that negative tension regularly built up by stress. You can do this through meditating, practicing mindfulness, yoga, or prayer.
Therapy is also a great way to express your emotions in a safe, constructive, nonjudgmental environment that allows you to set time aside for your own personal needs. Whichever medium you prefer, the aim is to improve your state of mind while gaining a sense of serenity and control over your emotions and mental happiness.
5. Deal with Anger Constructively
We all feel anger about circumstances and people at some point in our lives. However, negative emotions like fear, judgment, jealousy, and anger can be especially detrimental to our mental wellbeing. Left unchecked, anger can send you into a downward spiral that can cause physical sickness and separation from those you love the most. No one wants to share space with someone who is deeply angry.
You may have a hidden anger problem that is at the root and causing all manner of bitterness in your heart and mind. Sometimes, “letting go and letting God” is easier said than done. Or perhaps, you don’t even understand where this anger is coming from. There is help for you. This may be a situation that a licensed professional can help you to overcome.
Getting help is a normal part of life. We were never meant to have all of the answers.
When the going gets tough, double down on your self-care routines. Check-in with yourself and see if:
- You are sleeping well
- You are eating healthy
- You are setting proper boundaries
- You are protecting your alone time
- You are not being negatively affected by fake news or social media
- You are connecting with loved ones
- You are making time for your favorite show
- You are up on your personal hygiene
- You are doing whatever it is that you do that makes you feel good
You can not underestimate the power of self-care on your mental well-being during trying times. After all, this to shall pass!
Be well + prosper,
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