Developing Mental Fitness

ALAN WHITE

Wellness Consultant at EazySAFE

Mental Health is one of the most misunderstood concepts in society. Years of stigma and misinformation means that we associate the term with mental illness. When we think of physical health, we think of things such as energy, vitality and fitness. However when we think of mental health we immediately think of mental illnesses.

Yoga Session

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” 

JON KABAT-ZINN

That is why I believe that we need to redefine what it is to be mentally healthy and to achieve this, the first step is to develop a new terminology that helps us all understand what this means. For me becoming mentally healthy means learning how to develop our mental fitness.

So what is mental fitness?

Everyone can gauge their physical fitness quite easily, but we also need to learn how to gauge our mental fitness and like exercising and eating well to take care of our physical fitness, doing these things along with some other techniques will help us to cultivate mental fitness. We all know the things we can do to improve physical fitness so here are a few things we can do to improve our mental fitness.

Step One: Meeting our needs.

When life gets busy with the increasing responsibilities that modern life brings, the first thing we often neglect are our own needs. Taking the time to meet our needs is key to maintaining mental fitness. It is easy to remember what our needs are by using the acronym CAN DO.

  • Connect – with family and friends.
  • Active – exercise and having fun.
  • Notice – how you are feeling in the moment. (Mindfulness)
  • Do Good – help others, practice gratitude.
  • Open to learning – something new, a new skill, a new hobby, taking on a new challenge or project.

Step 2: Take the time for self-care.

We often feel like self–care is indulgent or even selfish. However, it is important to remember that we cannot pour from an empty cup and to meet our responsibilities to our families and colleagues we need to learn to take time out for ourselves. There are many things we can do such as, reading, writing, meditating, listening to podcasts or even watching our favourite show on tv. Taking the time to slow down allows us the space to switch off and rest. In fact, reading for 30 minutes a day is proven to reduce stress level considerably.

Step 3: Setting Appropriate Boundaries 

We cannot be all things to all people. For a lot of us one of the most difficult things to do is say no when we need to. This leads to many of us stretching ourselves too thin and always feeling there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. This can cause an increase in stress levels. Prolonged high stress levels can take their toll on our physical and mental health. So, it is important to set our personal boundaries clearly.

Step 4: Work towards goals

Most of us are aware of the feeling of anti-climax when we have been working towards a goal and achieve it. Initially we feel a sense of satisfaction but often this is quickly replaced with a feeling of, what do I do now? We are at our best when we are working towards something. That is why it is important to always have goals, both big and small to work towards.

There are so many things we can do to develop our mental fitness and the above are just a few. Learning these skills can not only help to reduce stress but also allow us to develop more positive relationships, cultivate a sense of purpose in our lives and generally improve our quality of life.

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