7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Fitness

Each of us is only as sharp, productive and well-adjusted as we push ourselves to be. Because we human beings are flawed creatures, we must work toward being our very best. A big part of that work is finding balance in the emotional and physical aspects that contribute to our overall well-being. Some activities hone us more effectively than others, but each of these seven practices can set nearly any person the right track.

Laugh More

Who doesn’t love to laugh? And yet, how many of us don’t do it often enough?

Research has demonstrated the incredible impacts laughing can have on the human psyche. Even when we simulate laughter, because the brain can’t differentiate the action from natural laughter, simply going through the motions can improve our mood. Based in this idea, new forms of therapy, such as laughter yoga, can improve mental well-being, promote bonding and even protect the body against the effects of stress.

Go ahead, tell a funny joke or recall a silly memory. Laughter is good medicine, and the improved mood could help sharpen your focus and raise your overall productivity.

Use It or Lose It

Our continued mental functioning depends heavily on why, how and how often we use our brains. Our neurons rely on connections with other neurons in order to perform well; the more connections they have, the more effectively they can do their jobs. While cognitive conditioning is merely one component to keeping a fit mind, it’s a vital factor in preserving memory recall and keeping skills sharpened.

Practice your favorite hobbies as often as reasonably possible. Speak multiple languages? Find other people to practice them with, so you can keep your vocabulary and conjugation skills fresh. Play an instrument. Read (or write) a book. Learn or improve upon an artistic or trade skill. An idle mind becomes a stagnant mind, so keep yours engaged.

Try Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about more than meditation, and its effects can extend to nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Mindfulness based Mental Fitness Training, a form of secular mindfulness practice, can help users improve mental attitude, self-worth and determination. The practice may also have impacts on sense of worth and social connections with others.

Mindfulness practices reduce our aptness toward emotional responses by improving emotional thresholds and helping to broaden and balance perspectives. Here are some tips on getting started.

Stay Active

There is an undeniable connection between physical health and mental health. Studies have shown regular exercise can temper people’s ability to handle stress and anxiety, while improving social skills, self-image and mental functioning. The benefits are so great, some researchers see exercise as the perfect add-on treatment for combatting serious comorbidities such as alcoholism and drug abuse.

Research on college students showed even short-term interventions (6 weeks of low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise) can dramatically reduce depression and anxiety levels. A study involving police officers demonstrated the protective effects of exercise against burnout and physical stress. In short, staying active can improve well-being, hardiness and overall quality of life.

Just Dance!

There’s something about a good beat that most people can’t deny. Dancing is great exercise, creates social buffers and is almost universally enjoyable. Even those of us who are too shy to dance around other people can sneak in a few moves when nobody else is around. Research on the effects of jazz dancing found dramatic improvements in physical and mental fitness across the board. Adding a few extra moves into your daily routine could be a fun and easy way to improve both body and mind.

Nourish Your Brain

We might not always consider the importance of proper nutrition and mental sharpness, but having the right building blocks it vital to healthy brain function. Just like you can’t build a sturdy house without a good foundation and strong materials, you can’t build a healthy brain without a wide variety of proteins, vitamins and other nutrients.

Research strongly suggests that balanced diets can go a long way in improving both gut health and mental health. Moreover, the two appear very much to go hand in hand.

Make Time for a Soak

The distinction between bathing and showering might not seem like much, but it could make all the difference in some people’s mental fitness. A study focusing on students in Japan found that people who shifted more toward showering during the summer suffered more depression, anxiety and burnout than those who allowed themselves regular hot soaks year-round.

The idea is that bathing is a form of self-care, one that can benefit the mind on multiple fronts. A good soak aids in relaxation, and it’s a great excuse to get in some meditation practice. Bathing can also help improve circulation and may reduce overall cardiovascular risks, which also have direct impacts on mental sharpness and well-being.

Our mental fitness is dependent on a number of factors, with genetics and environmental variables also often coming into play. By taking charge of the factors we can control, we can offer helpful boosts that can keep us at our happiest, sharpest and most balanced selves. The more beneficial practices we’re able to adopt, the better.

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