Everyone knows it’s important to stay physically fit and exercise your body. You might jog, do yoga, lift weights, or do aerobics to stay healthy and keep your body in good working order. You also might work with a trainer or attend group exercise classes, or take a course on nutrition or wellness in order to better be able to care for your physical health and overall bodily functioning. The idea of caring for ourselves in these ways is a pretty familiar concept — we’re taught from childhood to eat our vegetables and get plenty of exercise and fresh air. But did you know it’s also crucial to exercise your mind? Learning how to improve mental health is one piece in the puzzle of achieving and maintaining overall health — both physical and mental.
The importance of mental health
Staying mentally fit is just as much a part of your overall health as maintaining a healthy body, but the idea of “exercising the mind” is a new concept for many people. During the past year, when many people experienced periods of isolation from friends, family, and colleagues, it became more apparent than ever that the need for so-called “mental gyms'' was there. There were many people who could benefit from classes, webinars, courses, and support-group sessions that provide exactly what you’d think of when contemplating a “mental gym” — a place to go (or visit online) that would help you exercise your mind.
Mental gyms sometimes took the shape of online support groups where people who struggled with similar issues could meet up and share stories. Or, they could be classes or courses in which participants took part in conversations about different Self-Care concepts geared toward deepening understanding and spreading awareness of certain specific topics. No matter the format, mental gyms all share the same aim: to improve the mental health of participants.
Mental health tips
Whether or not you decide to take part in the mental-gym trend, there are a few simple guidelines everyone can follow to improve their mental health — especially during times when you may be isolated from friends and family, working from home, or experiencing the effects of the changing seasons.
- Stick to a routine. This could be as simple as waking up at the same time each day and taking a few moments to record your thoughts in a journal, or taking a walk in the evening to clear your mind and reflect on the day.
- Get some sunlight. Our bodies use sunlight to make Vitamin D, and people who don’t get enough of this vitamin may feel more down and depressed in the winter months when much of our skin tends to be covered up. Take a moment during your lunch break or after work before the sun sets to stroll around the neighborhood and feel the sun on your face.
- Get enough rest. If you aren’t sleeping well, this is reflected in every part of your day and in your mood. Make sure to get enough healthy shut-eye each night to wake up naturally without an alarm clock and feel refreshed.
- Keep in touch with friends and family. It can be tough to reach out and ask for help sometimes, but feeling isolated almost always leads to poor mental health. Who knows — maybe by reaching out to a friend or relative, you’ll brighten their day, too?
- Meditate. Take a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the day to quiet your mind and body. Try an eye pillow to help block out light and sound as you focus on a mantra of your choice.
Whatever your mental Self-Care looks like, it’s worthwhile to incorporate some time into your day to reflect inwardly. Mental gyms can be a great way to help you reach this goal — and learn some new healthy habits and meet like-minded friends, too.
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