Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve lifting weights or entering a gym.
We all know the benefits of fitness, but exercising your brain has some serious benefits too. It’s true, being mentally stronger can sharpen your mind, but it can also improve your overall health.
In fact, certain memory training exercises can increase “fluid intelligence”, or the ability to reason and solve new problems, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Moreover, the The Alzheimer’s Association has found that keeping your brain active increases its vitality.
But don’t worry, incorporating a brain conditioning routine into your life doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. We turned to psychologists Emily Anhalt, PsyD, and Jacinta Jimenez, PsyD, to break down what you need to know and how you can get started.
First of all, what is the mental form?
Mental fitness means taking care of your emotional, psychological and social well-being. Dr. Anhalt and Dr. Jimenez like to think of it as fitness, but for our minds. Just as our body needs regular exercise and checkups, our mind also needs this upkeep.
“Our mind is a useful tool and our brain has this unprecedented ability to process and analyze information, but like anything high-performing, the mind also needs regular upkeep and maintenance” , says Dr. Jimenez, vice president of coaching innovation at the mental health platform, Better Up.
It is also generally broken down into seven components: self-awareness, empathy, mindfulness, curiosity, playfulness, resilience, and communication. Self-compassion is another key element, according to Dr. Jimenez. “I’m really impressed by the resilience of humanity,” she tells us. “It’s normal to be struggling right now – you’re not alone in this.”
What are the benefits of mental fitness?
Exercising your brain has many benefits: increased cognitive function, stimulated positive emotions, more confidence, improved concentration, and the ability to retain information better. Working on your mental fitness even improves relationships with those around you, whether it’s a family member or a partner.
“By working on our mental fitness, we build the tools we need to have a healthier relationship with ourselves, which in turn translates into healthier relationships with others,” says Dr. Anhalt.
What are the ways to become more mentally fit?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach: it’s about finding a mental conditioning routine that works best for you. This can include everything from doing your favorite puzzle or crossword to keeping a daily journal.
Meditation is also a great way to keep your brain in shape, as it helps strengthen your overall awareness of who you are. “Observing how you react to things in your external environment and just observing that reaction without reacting can be so powerful in knowing what things stress you out, what things excite you, what things fill you up, and what things exhaust you,” says Dr. Jiménez. .
If you are unsure how to deal with these reactions or emotions, you may want to consider seeking help from a mental health professional. “The therapy is a great example of a way to bring in someone who is really trained and experienced and able to mirror some things to us that would be hard for us to see ourselves,” says Dr Anhalt, who is co-founder of the online platform Cocoawhich seeks to demystify emotional and mental fitness through courses.
Why is this important?
Improving our mental fitness can help us better navigate the inevitable ups and downs of life. This includes the ability to better overcome adversity and meet challenges without difficulty.
It can also help us learn to become less reactive, which has become all too common in today’s culture. “When we have more control or more awareness over our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we may choose to react more proactively than reactively,” says Dr. Jimenez.
The take-out sale
When it comes to mental health, consistency is key. It can be practiced in a few minutes every day or at least once a week. “Just setting aside some time to connect with yourself can go a long way toward feeling more empowered,” Dr. Jimenez tells us.
This is also where the community aspect comes in – investing in professional coaching through BetterUp or taking a live online course through Coa could help you stay on track. But you don’t necessarily have to spend the money: you can find a friend or start a group to get the support you need to stay motivated and maintain your mental fitness routine.