I remember being in elementary and having to take the presidential fitness test. From elementary to college we are encouraged to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. Scrolling through Instagram or watching a television commercial you can almost be guaranteed to see a reference to one’s physical health. But what about mental fitness? We don’t really see references to maintaining our mental fitness. Wait, do we even know what mental fitness is?
Mental fitness is basically the ability to emotionally and psychologically meet the demands of our everyday lives. Just like working out and eating right helps us with our physical fitness there are things we can do to help us with our mental fitness. Here are few things you can try incorporating into your life to help you maintain or improve your level of mental fitness.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the “runner’s high.” Exercise releases endorphins, which are those “feel good” hormones. Exercise also increases the blood flow to your brain which increases the level of oxygen to your brain. The combination of these two can help you reach a calmer, more relaxed state after your workout. This can lead to better decision making and less stress in your everyday life.
Speaking of stress, stress can cause an increase of cortisol in your body which can lead you feeling fatigued, angry, and/or irritable. Using humor to help you handle stressful situations can help reduce your stress level and lower your level of cortisol. If you enjoyed reading the Sunday comics look some up online, or pick up a newspaper. Read a funny story or watch a comedy to help you destress.
Focus on one task at a time
Technology can be fantastic, but it can also mean that we are multitasking more now than ever before. We may feel that if we are not doing 100 things at a time, then we are wasting our time or not accomplishing “enough.” This can cause us to feel like we have to go full force at all times but what ends up happening is that we may end up depleting our energy source! Take your time and focus on one thing at a time.
Pick up a new hobby! Learning something creates new neural pathways in our brains. Or maybe you have an old hobby that you have neglected and you want to get back into. This can be anything from reading to photography to gardening. Hobbies help you become task orientated and can help you feel productive.
Life gets tough sometimes. And sometimes we have to reach out. Don’t fear reaching out. Utilize your support system. Remember that show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” had phone a friend as an option for contestant’s life line. You can choose to use “phone a friend” to help you cope. Sometimes just vocalizing your stressors helps you feel better. You can also reach out to a professional. Call your counselor and set up an appointment. Or if you don’t have a counselor, you can call the counseling line (512-782-5069) and speak to someone or set up an appointment.
Hope these five tips can help you on the road to mental fitness. Just like it’s important to keep our muscles active to keep up with our physical fitness it is just as important to keep our brain active for our mental fitness.