What Kind of Fitness?
Start thinking of your health holistically. If your body is out of whack, you easily recognize that your body is unfit. It’s less obvious when you’re unhappy that you may be able to think of your mind as being out of shape.
A fit brain keeps you happy, motivated, and healthy, so it’s of paramount importance that you pay attention to your mental fitness.
10 Tips for Better Mental Fitness
1. Exercise Regularly. Physical exercise releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals you can feel good about) and speeds oxygen to your brain; in turn, that increase in oxygen flow improves things like your reaction time and your memory.
2. Eat Well. If you’re sluggish, try cutting out the junk food from your diet and replacing it with whole-grain breads and pastas, fresh fruit, and plenty of dark leafy greens. It may be that your body isn’t getting all the nutrients it needs to function at peak capacity.
3. Get a New Hobby. Learning a new skill allows the brain to grow and build new neural pathways, and in the long-term, this ability is vital to your mental fitness. Try creative writing, or woodworking.
4. Converse. Talk about a wide array of topics with your friends and family. Doing so will allow your brain to explore plenty of neural pathways (and that means mental fitness for you); plus, you’ll become the life of the party if you educate yourself well enough to actually speak authoritatively on these subjects.
5. Read Widely. In order to speak authoritatively on a wide variety of topics, you’re going to want to read a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. And don’t forget to read actively—by looking at the bigger picture and asking questions as you read—so that you’ll get more out of your reading and give your brain a workout.
6. Relax. Stress kills. Stress causes you to put on the pounds, and it makes it so concentrating is more difficult. The list goes on and on, so trust me when I say that you want to get rid of your stress any way you can.
7. Learn a New Language. In addition to expanding your understanding of the globe, and providing a new set of topics for conversation, learning a new language forces your brain to work as hard as it can to learn a new set of vocabulary and grammar structures, and I promise you it’ll keep your brain fit as a fiddle.
8. Focus on the Positive. Even (especially) when things are rough, try focusing on the positives in your life: friends and family, fun experiences you’ve had, triumphs. I’m not saying you should ignore the challenges you’re facing, but recalling the positives will put you in a better mood and make you more capable of dealing with the bad.
9. Develop Coping Strategies. The negative will come. That’s a fact of life. But when it does, if you know how to deal with it, you’ll be able to get past it more easily. Say, “Yes, but . . .” when something negative happens, and then visualize how you can overcome it (see if there are multiple ways you can overcome it, too). Be realistic about what it’ll take, but then focus on the fact that it is possible. And then work to do so.
10. Be Kind. If you treat others kindly, you’ll find yourself happier. The more you do for others, the more you will feel has been done for you. Be selfless and discover how enriched your life will be.