Just as physical fitness and exercise helps us to keep our body strong, mental fitness helps us maintain good mental health. It is important for us to think about and monitor our mental and emotional health regularly, consider our stresses and demands and how they impact us. Below are some mental fitness tips courtesy of CMHA Ontario.
Learn to manage negative thoughts – Negative thoughts can be persistent and loud. Learn to interrupt them. Don’t try to block them (that never works), but don’t let them take over. Try distracting yourself or comforting yourself, if you can’t solve the problem right away.
Day dream – Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whether it’s a beach or a mountaintop let the comforting environment wrap you in a sensation of peace and tranquility.
Collect positive emotional moments – Make it a point to recall times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence or other positive emotions.
Exercise – Regular physical activity improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety.
Do one thing at a time – For example, when you are out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and stop making mental to do lists. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells.
Enjoy hobbies – Taking up a hobby brings balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of pressure and deadlines and it also keeps your brain active.
Set personal goals – Goals don’t have to be ambitious. You might decide to finish that book you started; to take a walk; learn something new; to call your friends instead of waiting for them to call you. Whatever goal you set – reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction.
Keep a Journal – express yourself – Expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.
Volunteer – Volunteering is called the “win-win” activity because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. At the same time, it widens our social network, provides us with new learning experiences and can bring balance to our lives.
Humour – Life often gets too serious. A little humour can go a long way to helping us keep mentally fit.
Treat yourself – See a movie, call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in a while, have a bubble bath, sit on park bench and smell the flowers. Whatever it is, do it for just you.
Eat Right – Making the right nutritional choices can have a positive impact on your mental health. Eat a well balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish, seeds and eggs, protein and whole grains (Source CMHA, National).
Drink Water – Water’s essential for overall health, both physical and mental. Drink plenty every day.