Being fit is more than just about physical fitness. It is also about your mental health as well. A balanced life is one where your mind, body, and spirit are all well-nourished. What does this mean? You need to not only exercise regularly, but do things that are good for your mind as well.
Mental workouts are a little different and harder to structure than physical workouts. Doing a few “brain squats” is a little harder to grasp than leg day. However, there are some things you can do to keep your mind fit. Here are five ways you can boost your mental health.
There are some things that staying positive does not mean. It does not mean that you have some form of magical thinking the no matter what, everything is good. Things happen that are not good or painful. It is your reaction to those things that matters. This means simple things like being thankful for what you do have even when you lose something, or focusing on the good parts of an outcome rather than feeding negativity.
It also means that the way you respond to others is important as well. Instead of saying “sorry I am late” instead say something like “thanks for waiting for me.” Immediately the emphasis is on the positive actions of others rather than your own shortcomings. Simple things like this wil change your mentality throughout the day.
Kindness and forgiveness of the shortcomings of others also goes a long way toward staying positive. Remember to offer grace throughout the day in areas where you would like grace as well. Treating others in a positive way and the way you would like to be treated will keep your mind in a positive space. Giving in to frustration or anger only feeds negativity.
Being active is not only good for your body, it is also good for your mind. We have all heard of the “runner’s high” and understand that exercise releases endorphins that lead to happiness and a more positive attitude. That regular exercise you do to stay fit will also keep your mind healthy as well.
This doesn’t mean you have to do CrossFit six days a week either. Everything from yoga to chair exercises and adding a standing desk to your office can count toward simply staying active. Set alerts on your phone or have your Fitbit or Apple Watch remind you to stand every hour and take a short walk even just around the office. Stand and stretch. Use your breaks and lunch hour to move around as well as feeding your body.
You don’t have to be a world class athlete to get active. Engage in things you enjoy. Even a brisk walk or a few push ups at your desk can help reset your brain and get you moving.
Develop Good Habits
Guess what staying positive and getting active are the result of? They are due to you developing good habits. This translates to many areas of your life, but understand that as much as we humans like excitement and diversity, our bodies also like routine. Good routines remind both your body and mind what needs to happen next. Here are a few examples:
- Schedule Regular Meal and Snack Times: Your body will adjust, and this will keep you from bad snacking, but it also helps your mind stay fueled throughout the day.
- Develop Exercise Habits: Not only does your body need this, but your mind will let you know when you miss a workout, and your brain will be healthier if you do.
- Have Regular Home and Work Routines: This creates some peace for your mind and often eliminates unnecessary stress.
- Make a Habit of Doing Things for Yourself: You cannot care for others if you are not healthy. Make a habit of scheduling massages and even daily meditation to care for yourself and your mind.
Good habits and a regular schedule protect your brain. Don’t think of it as a dull routine, but one that promotes good mental health. These habits can pay off in huge ways both physically and mentally. Your mental health affects your physical health and vice-versa.
Write About Your Mental Health
Writing is therapeutic for almost everyone, whether that takes the form of journaling or blogging or a combination of both. Sometimes simply writing about something is enough to reduce it from something that seems huge to something manageable. Also, one way to learn more about something is to write about it.
The research you do to write a blog about mental health can help you not only understand your own struggles but to help others with the same issues as well. It can also help you understand that you are not alone and build a community. Of course, you can either write for an existing website or even start your own blog if you want to go that direction.
However, there is also something healing about simply keeping a mental health journal. You can keep one journal that includes your physical fitness goals and your diet as well, and there are even apps to help you do this on your phone. Making a habit of journaling and writing down everything from mood to stress level to workouts and diet can show you patterns and help you alter negative behaviors to more positive ones.
No matter how you do so, writing about your mental health and exploring in through that medium is a good idea.
Ask for Help
Much like medical issues or hiring a personal trainer, often when it comes to mental health we don’t know what we don’t know until we ask for help. While you can work out on your own, a trainer can help you target areas you might be missing. You would not try to set your own broken leg, so you go to a doctor.
In the same way, some mental health issues cannot be solved by working through them on your own, and a professional can help you see your blind spots and help you heal injuries faster than you could on your own. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of asking for help in the area of your mental health.
Your physical fitness matters, but just as important or in some cases more so is your mental health. Take these five ways to heart, and boost your mental health by staying positive, getting active, engaging in good habits, writing and journaling, and when necessary asking for help.