When we think of fitness, we immediately envision lifting weights, running on the treadmill and lacing up our running shoes for an early morning jog. Though these images are certainly connected, there's another form of fitness we should be practicing in our daily lives: mental fitness. Here's why you should know and care about one of the most important parts of your exercise routine.
Mental fitness is essentially a set of mental exercises that each and every one of us should be doing to ensure our minds are in tip-top shape and our attitudes are flowing in the right direction. Mental fitness has little to do with intelligence or IQ tests and a lot more to do with positive thinking and affirmations. The benefits that can come from daily mental fitness exercises are nearly endless, from better sleep to lower anxiety to higher self-confidence. Here are some different exercises you can do to get your mental fitness game on point.
Known to many as "daydreaming," undergoing the process of visualization is fun, motivating and exciting. The brain doesn't know the difference between reality and fantasy, so you can close your eyes anytime and transport yourself to your dream life and surroundings. Visualize your goals and reap all the wonderful feelings that come with it. By doing so, you'll be more motivated to take steps to achieve those goals.
As wonderful and exhilarating as visualization can be, it's also very powerful and beneficial to meditate regularly. Allow all of your thoughts to fall away and focus only on your breathing for a period of up to 30 minutes. Studies now show that meditation not only reduces stress but actually thickens grey matter in the brain, leading to heightened working memory and improved critical decision-making skills.
Most of us are chronic multitaskers and we don't even know it! We're obsessed with productivity to the point that we're overdoing it and running ourselves down both mentally and physically. Studies prove that multitasking negatively impacts the functionality of working memory in older adults. So, whether at work or at home, start practicing doing one thing at a time and find yourself easing into a more peaceful (and overall more productive) state.
Journaling once a day, either when you wake up or before you go to sleep, is a transformative practice that allows you to get rid of any mental baggage and become more at ease with yourself and your circumstances. Journaling is also a great way to come up with solutions to your problems and creative ideas that inspire you.
Remember way back to when you used to love curling up with a good book? Well, reading is an important part of your mental fitness. Diving into a book or a magazine is a fun activity that keeps you learning new things while also relaxing you. Some studies even show that you'll be up to 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease if you read regularly.
With so much evidence backing the importance of mental fitness, you might be wondering why you've always placed so much emphasis on other forms of exercise while forgetting about your poor old brain. Well, you'll be happy to know that your physical fitness has been positively benefiting your brain all along. Now all that's left to do is to get both forms of fitness running in sync.