Similar to physical health, mental fitness has numerous advantages. But what exactly does it mean to exercise mentally? Does the brain have abs?
We are aware of the value of being physically fit. And there are several ways to improve it, including working out with a trainer at the gym, taking a HIIT class, or going for walks and runs in the open air. To maintain the health and well-being of our bodies, each of us combines various activities.
The outcome? You build muscles that improve your ability to carry out daily tasks. You are more resistant to accidents and injuries, muscular, leaner, and have more incredible energy or endurance.
You are “fit” if you operate at a more significant health level. Fit to handle daily responsibilities like carrying shopping bags, chasing after kids and dogs, and being better equipped to enjoy life. Gaining excellent health can increase happiness, reduce stress, and give one a sense of accomplishment.
The good news is that improving your mental fitness can provide similar advantages.
How is mental fitness beneficial?
Having and maintaining a level of well-being and cultivating awareness of our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are examples of what mental fitness means.
Mental fitness aids in the same way physical fitness enhances our capacity to respond to life in all of its complexity. It allows us more space to select how to react to a situation, whether that scenario is a forethought, an external stimulus, or a mood. We are, therefore, less prone to suffer (or bring about) emotional and related harm.
Consider what happens if you find yourself in an argument with your partner. In a fit of rage, your husband says something terrible. When we are in a reactionary phase, we respond immediately from the source of our hurt. Your spouse returns the favor once your arrow hits the target. And so it goes, leaving you both tense and out of control.
When that first furious remark is made to you, a mentally fitter person will understand that they have an option. Instead of starting over or making amends later, mental health enables you to halt and react as you see fit in the present. It resembles using the wisdom of hindsight in the here and now in some ways.
How does exercising benefit mental health? When we’re mentally fit, we engage with the world differently. There have been multiple interactions with spouses. Our emotional health is affected with time. Think about the hundreds of interactions we have each week if we were less reactive. The example above demonstrates that rather than bouncing from one reaction to another, we are selecting how to be and how to respond. That results in significantly less tension and unpleasant feelings over time.
Our mental fitness eventually impacts our physical health and wellness, just as our physical fitness has an impact on both.
How is mental fitness achieved?
Thoughts travel along cerebral pathways in our brains. These routes resemble ruts that have developed and been reinforced through time. You could discover that you can arrive at work on “autopilot” if you take the same route daily. Numerous repetitions of a particular thought pattern reinforce the brain circuit, making the thinking automatic.
A daily routine can be beneficial, but we need to be mindful of our habits and the thought patterns we unintentionally reinforce when it comes to our cognitive processes.
Automatic thinking—or thinking quickly, as Daniel Kahnemann refers to it—is problematic when it leads to inappropriate responses to the circumstances. Our answers are predicated on beaten paths to earlier emotions or triggers.
As your mental fitness increases, you’ll have the awareness, mental fortitude, and agility to recognize alternatives and take a different path. What do I want to happen in this situation? Where do you want me to go? We act, speak, and think far too frequently, involuntarily, or automatically.
Our limbic system, part of our survival brain, produces automatic thought. It has been continuously scouting the surroundings for hazards since the beginning of evolution. The limbic system, which we inherited from chimpanzees, can defend us. But in contemporary society, it can also inspire negative thoughts and deeds against us.
We can develop and reprogram the human portion of the brain. We may build brain pathways that will better serve us and improve our lives with the same deliberateness we use to develop specific muscles or perfect a movement. This is the essence of what we mean by mental fitness training.