There is an increasing consensus in mental health circles highlighting the importance of mental exercise to your overall health. Bottom Line – Mental Fitness is just as important as Physical Fitness.
“If there is one thing that we can be sure of in life, it’s that the next challenge is always around the corner. On top of this, we all inhabit a highly mediated world in which we are bombarded with vast amounts of information, much of which can be disconcerting. We rely on our psychological health to help us process and manage these complexities, and to do so in such a way that allows us to continue to take care of ourselves and our loved ones regardless of what life throws at us.” says Mark Rowe.
Dr. Mark Rowe is a General Practioner and expert on well-being wisdom and holistic leadership. Author of the bestselling book A Prescription for Happiness, he asserts that mental health is not separate from overall health and well-being but rather a key component that’s interconnected.
Mental fitness is coming to the forefront of our lives more than ever as the biological link between the physical and mental aspects of life become more apparent. Take for instance an extremely trying life situation say a serious illness or a death of a loved one, having psychological resilience and mental toughness or strength can be the difference in how your life is affected from that point on. This will also ensure the speed of which you can proceed with a healthy mindset and not go off the cliff into negativity which will affect every aspect of your life.
Fifteen minutes of physical exercise can benefit your mental health; with neuroplasticity, we can train and shape our brains just as we can our bicep or deltoid muscles.
- Show Me How it’s Done
Dr. Rowe says “We can train our brains to do just about anything – we have that facility. I like to use the term ‘psychological fitness’ to remind us that, just as with our physical fitness, we can train our brains to better meet the needs of our lives.” He also explained how our brains can be shaped just like or bicep or a deltoid “As far back as 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as more than the absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and relational well-being.”
- Mental Couch Potato
How exactly can we define what a mental couch potato may or may not be? According to Rowe, there are many lifestyle choices which we can attribute to this; such as poor diet, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, not enough sleep, and simply being too sedentary throughout the day. He also explains that being too attached to electronic devices can suck the life out of your brain. Constant checking of social media, emails, and text messages are “toxic,” according to Rowe.
He maintains that since “We all inhabit a highly mediated world in which we are bombarded with vast amounts of information, much of which can be disconcerting. We rely on our psychological health to help us process and manage these complexities, and to do so in such a way that allows us to continue to take care of ourselves and our loved ones regardless of what life throws at us.” being proactive is a huge factor in achieving and continuing sound mental health.
Forstner reminds us that there are no quick fixes either. “Regular mindfulness meditation is a great way to increase your own and your team’s mental fitness levels.” It’s just like your muscles, you aren’t going to build them up by doing a single bench press; you have to build your strength and endurance week after week, and month by month.” He concludes by saying “Unfortunately, it takes time and effort, and it’s exactly the same with your mental fitness. It is something you have to practice every day. If there is one thing that we can be sure of in life, it’s that the next challenge is always around the corner.” Try yoga as a mental escape and a way to meditate.
- Work-Related Stress and The Mind
Stress derived from our jobs is a huge factor in mental fitness. A 2015 survey by international human resources consultancy Mercer found that 82 percent of employees were facing increased stress at work.
“Study after study shows that around 70 percent of the workforce is not engaged or is actively disengaged with their work. This leads to less productive teams, more sick days and general unhappiness,” says Armin Forstner of Serrano 99 Management Consulting (serrano99.com), who has worked with companies such as WizzAir and Uber. Forstner specializes in the corporate application of positive psychology and mindfulness.
Forstner’s focus when he works with companies is to create the best possible working environment for employees to reach their utmost potential. He says “In an environment where people are generally happier, they make better connections and have a more positive view.” He also explains “Leaders of teams and organizations can counteract negative trends and help contribute positively to mental health. One way is to become a so-called ‘positive leader’ who applies positive psychology practices to themselves and looks holistically at their organization to build a positive work environment.
A good way to manage stress is through physical fitness as well. Here is a body weight workout you can do while watching television.