When people talk about fitness, they’re almost always referring to things like a low body mass index (BMI), endurance, muscle tone, and overall physical readiness to be at their best. But the other aspect of fitness – mental fitness – can be just as important to your well-being and your ability to perform tasks adequately throughout the day, the week, etc.
We’re all pretty much bombarded with literature, photos, and videos from all kinds of media outlets about how the next great fitness program can sculpt our bodies and make us physical dynamos – but shouldn’t every member of your family be ‘sculpting’ their minds at the same time?
Importance of mental fitness
By mental fitness, we mean to include a person’s emotional, social, and psychological states of well-being, because those factors have a huge impact on how we handle stress, how we relate to people, and how we make important choices in life. Mental fitness affects how people act, think, and feel, so its influence is felt right from childhood on up to old age.
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Have you ever tried to make an important decision when you are under severe stress? For instance, when things at work are totally hectic, can you leave it all behind you, and be cool, calm, and collected at home with your family? Could you survive the emotional rollercoaster of separation from your spouse, and having to go through divorce mediation?
Granted, even good mental health might not make you immune to such gut-wrenching ordeals, or sudden, overwhelming trauma like a death in the family, but maintaining a general state of good mental fitness will probably help you cope with most of life’s stresses.
How to stay mentally fit
One of the big supports for good mental fitness is – physical fitness! Being physically active and keeping your body in good shape provides a natural boost to your mental side as well. A healthy body makes for a healthy mind, and that’s the starting point for mental fitness. We humans are social creatures at heart, and we need social interaction to feel good about ourselves. Staying socially involved is another of the rungs on the ladder of mental fitness, and that means participating in events, helping others, discussing significant issues with friends or loved ones, and doing fun things that make us feel good.
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Maintaining a positive attitude is a great approach to life, and is much preferred over the opposite point of view, so whenever there are two ways to view an issue, try to find the more agreeable perspective! By making a habit of this, you’ll develop a brighter disposition, rather than being shrouded in darkness. Getting plenty of sleep is another practice that can help you manage your day better, and keep you in a more flexible state of mind; able to cope with whatever indignities you’re faced with each day.
Of course, if you go through a prolonged period of emotional or psychological difficulty, you may not be able to pull yourself out of it on your own. In that case, it’s infinitely better to recognize that fact and seek professional help, rather than to either ignore the problem, or continue fruitlessly to attempt your own salvation.
Physical fitness may get a lot more airplay these days, but to enjoy both healthy body and healthy mind – don’t forget mental fitness!