When we think of fitness, we immediately envision lifting weights, running on the treadmill and lacing up our running shoes for an early morning jog. Though these images are certainly connected, there’s another form of fitness we should be practicing daily: mental fitness. Did you know that taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important for a long and healthy life as taking care of your physical health? Here’s why you should know and care about one of the most important parts of your exercise routine.
Mental fitness is exactly what it sounds like: keeping your brain and emotional health in tip-top shape and our attitudes flowing in the right direction. It has little to do with intelligence or IQ and a lot more to do with positive thinking and affirmations. The benefits that can come from daily mental fitness exercises are nearly endless, from better sleep to lower anxiety to higher self-confidence.
Here are five different exercises you can do to get your mental fitness game on point.
Known to many as “daydreaming,” undergoing the process of visualization is fun, motivating and exciting. The brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, so you can close your eyes anytime and transport yourself to your dream life and surroundings. Visualize your goals and reap all the wonderful feelings that come with it and you’ll be more motivated to take steps to achieve those goals.
It’s also very powerful and beneficial to meditate regularly. Allow all of your thoughts to fall away and focus only on your breathing for a period of up to 30 minutes. Meditation not only reduces stress but actually thickens grey matter in the brain, leading to heightened working memory and improved critical decision-making skills.
You may think that multitasking enables you to get many things done at once, but it actually creates more problems than it solves. Focusing on one task at a time will not only improve your concentration, but it will help you to see the bigger picture, and get you pointed in a productive direction.
Journaling once a day, either when you wake up or before you go to sleep, is a transformative practice that allows you to get rid of any mental baggage and become more at ease with yourself and your circumstances. Journaling is also a great way to come up with solutions to your problems and creative ideas that inspire you.
Reading is great for the brain, it can stoke the imagination and ignite so many different parts of the brain. Even as you’re reading this sentence, your brain is processing each word, recalling the meaning instantly. Beyond the mechanics, reading helps you visualize the subject you’re reading about, imagine what voices sound like and more. Diving into a book or a magazine is a fun activity that keeps you learning new things while also relaxing you.
Mental fitness does not have to take up a lot of your time. Just spending a few minutes every day visualizing, affirming, or relaxing can help you feel better and think more clearly. Oh, and by the way, you’ll also be happy to know that all of the physical fitness that you’ve been doing has been positively benefiting your brain all along. So, add a mental fitness break into your calendar right next to your workout schedule. Your mind and your health are worth it.