How to Keep Mentally Fit

Life is strange and often surprises us when we least expect it. After going through a surgery last year, I was hoping my life was going to change for the better. Instead, after months of pain, it took me on a downward spiral, leaving me with a series of health conditions that I struggled to cope with. I never complained, keeping it all bottled up inside me. Towards the beginning of this year, unable to get my energy levels or my physical fitness back, I began to sink into a state of depression. It took me a few months to realise what I was going through was a mild form of depression that needed immediate treatment .

Eventually, after weighing all the options, Jay suggested we hire a Yoga instructor who’d put me on a regimen of yoga and breathing exercises. The other bits in my life needed changing too -things I ‘d been doing over the years but had given up over the course of the past one year! Put together, they seemed promising enough. A few months later, things began looking up again. I feel much more in control over my mind and body now. My takeaway from all this is – the more I help my body, the more I help my mind. A new surge of hope is making me feel positive. It is a known fact that physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to the brain. A lot of it is to do with the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals, in the brain that have given me a second lease of life. I wonder why it has taken me so long to figure this out?

It makes me wonder why is it that while we are all concerned about losing weight or getting in shape physically, we never think of mental fitness, until we find things are going out of control? Perhaps some of us do, but perhaps, not in a conscious way. During this time, I’ve also learnt that there are simple things which can create a noticeable impact on our minds, if we consciously practice them, with our full awareness, over a period of time. Today, I’m sharing these with you:

  • Starting the day with a morning ritual that focuses on calmness and silence. A short 10-minute meditation or a set of breathing exercises practiced in the morning is guaranteed to enhance our focus and concentration, that will make a tremendous effect on our productivity over the day. If you haven’t, do try this and keep a journal where you may record how you feel, in order to see the changes happening to you.
  • Taking short breaks (5 or 10 minutes depending on your schedule) through the working day helps to de-stress. Nothing relaxes our tired, worn-out brains and bodies more than these short breaks, as they break the monotony of the drudgery, leaving us refreshed to resume our work, be it at the workplace or in the confines of our home.
  • Short activities that keep our brain active (the daily crossword, a Sudoku or a jigsaw) that gives you a ‘brain workout’ (yes, there is such a word). Games are a great way to build up our brain muscles, besides helping to boost our ability to learn new tasks and increase our attention span. Games that test reasoning and other portions of our brain are actually fun ways to keep our mind sharp.
  • Trying something new and different from what we normally do is a great way to keep us on the path to mental fitness. This could be trying out a new menu at home, or a new dish at the office canteen, trying new ways to do an old task, or getting off the beaten track and traveling to some place we’ve not been before. Have you tried this yet? Go ahead and try this. You will love the change.
  • Practicing ways to stop responding to anger or negative vibes. Perhaps there is this obnoxious person who is known for being nasty or rude, or a work colleague who always rubs us up the wrong way, no matter how ‘inflammable’ the argument gets and how difficult the situation gets, respond without getting worked up. Remember the lesson from the Buddha’s life  – if we don’t accept their negativity, those words mean nothing to us.
  • Being generous when giving smiles even if others we meet look glum or serious. You’ll be surprised how people begin to change the way they respond to you. If not immediately, then certainly over a period of time, your cheerfulness will rub onto them.

Today, as we all begin another busy week, it is even more important to remind ourselves that mental fitness doesn’t have to take up a lot of our time. Spending a few minutes on it every day and feeling better can enhance our mental fitness and ensure we keep stress at bay. Needless to say, if at any point in time, we feel overwhelmed with the things that are happening to us, it is absolutely essential to talk to someone about it and ask for professional help at the earliest. Recognising our problem and acknowledging it is the very first step in regaining control of our health. The commitment to mental and physical fitness is a decision that can transform our lives forever and it must come only from us.

These are simple but tried and tested tips  that I’m consciously following, but to me they seem to make a big difference in how I feel at the end of a busy day. How do you keep yourself positive and mentally fit in your day-to-day life? would you like to share some of them here?

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(Linking this with #microblogmondays and #mondaymusings.)

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19 thoughts

  1. Mental illness is often brushed off as a mood swing that we expect to overcome with time, it isn’t something people give importance to like our physical health. You have thrown light into the importance of keeping our minds fit too, and also rightfully explained that the body and the mind are correlated and so are the illness caused from them. Their fitness is complimentary and something we need to take care of. Thankyou for the tips Esha, they are of great help.

    P.S- I’ve nominated you for the versatile blogger award 🙂 Feel free to accept it or not.
    http://dashyspeaks.blogspot.in/2016/11/being-versatile.html

    1. True, Dashy! I’m glad you found these tips useful. All too often, we are caught up in keeping our bodies fit and attractive, but ignore our mental health.
      Thank you so much for nominating me for the blogger award. I will check out the post right away 🙂

  2. Loved this post Esha! having peace within yourself and outside is very important for a healthy you. I am a fan of morning routines and starting a day positively is the best thing your can do for yourselves. Good list of dos here. Being generous without expecting much works great for ones mental peace and th
    Menaka Bharathi has recently published <a http://simpleindianmom.in/diet-thyroid-imbalance-dos-donts/ at is what makes me happy through my day!

    1. Thanks Menaka. Yes, not having expectatations works beautifully but sometimes, giving too much without getting anything back in return is also not right. Too many women do that in our country and they feel depressed when it becomes a one-way street. Will hop onto your blog and read your post, now, Menaka.

  3. I agree with each and every point you made here, Esha!
    These are some of the things I began following since the last year or so. Another thing I try doing is practising mindfulness, and not just while meditating, but also while doing chores, or walking. Just remembering to be in the moment, and concentrating on our breathing helps us deal with a lot of stressful situations. That is not to say I don’t get hassled by issues, I do, but it now takes lesser time for me to get back to my normal mood and realising that things that happen are not within my control, so I just leave it. Que Sera Sera is my new mantra! 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shilpa. Mindfulness works beautifully for me too, as you rightly say, while I’m doing something. I make it a point to enjoy the moment as it comes. As part of yoga, I do pranayam everyday and feel that deep breathing works like magic to make us feel fit and uplifted first thing in the morning. I too get my daily fix of energy from my morning routines and cannot do without it, now that it is part of my everyday schedule. Nice mantra to have, by the way 🙂

  4. Thanks Esha for sharing such wonderful tips… Wish for your good health always. Today. it is very difficult to remain peace in mind, but yes if we all make short and small steps towards it then definitely we can achieve a healthy life with healthy mind. I started my weight loss journey from the month of August and today I can say that eating clean really helps me not to be only physically fit, but mentally fit too.

    1. You’re welcome, Dipannita. So glad to know you’re on your way to get fitter and healthier. Yes, small steps can always pave the way for greater good. I felt so good following these that I really wanted to share them with the rest of you. Good luck with your weight-loss programme. I am sure you will share you journey with a few tips too for us. Am looking forward to that!

  5. I really love how you mention that people don’t consider exercise for something other than to lose weight. Me, on the other hand, exercise (climbing specifically) because I often have negative thoughts and it helps me work through them. For some reason, I think that is common in climbing. Maybe because it takes your full attention physically and mentally, but it’s a unique perspective. I think it’s more commonly found in people who are already athletic, but it seems to be something that others should be aware of too!

    1. So true, Alice. Exercise gives me that boost first thing in the morning. I wouldn’t have the same stamina or the positivity if I didn’t even for a day. The benefits of exercise far outweigh the energy spent doing it. Climbing, even more so, as an arduous activity that calls for mind and body coordination! I’d love to do that some day!

      1. I’m thinking of trying some meditation first thing but I’d have to leave space as I might fall back asleep. My mind is so restless lately, even with exercise. I’m going to try your tips…You should try climbing! It’s extremely hard though and can be off-putting to start, but after practice it’s more a mental sport than physical, which I think is unique.

  6. A helpful and inspiring post, Esha! Even though so many of these things are obvious and known to us, somehow in the rush of life and due to our ignorance, laziness or whatever we ignore these. And often circumstances come in life to remind us of the significance of the inner harmony we need – in our body-mind-heart nexus. I also find the few minutes of silencing or breathing exercises very helpful. I also like listening to soothing music to relax the nerves, or just strolling in my little garden, pulling a few weeds or pruning some dead leaves etc can be a stress-buster for me. Thanks for writing this post.

    1. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts Beloo! You’re right about how easily we tend to ignore the small but important things that are needed for the mind-body wellbeing. Like you, I also love listening to soothing music and tend to my balcony garden. Writing, for me, is also very therapeutic.

  7. This is a great post to start this day. Mental health is absolutely important. Also it works both way, when you keep physical health proper, it keeps the mind in control and vice versa. Such a nicely written post. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Ashwini. Agree, mental and physical well-being go hand in hand. Glad to see you stop by at Soul Talk. I wish you a great day ahead and a fab start to the week too 🙂

  8. I loved reading your post first thing in the morning. I agree with u on each and every point Esha. I keep myself busy with dancing, sports, writing, listening to music and spending time with my girls. These things keep me sane. It is really important to take care of your mental health first as it is going to keep going in life. Inspirational post which everyone should read. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Deepa. Sometimes we have to lose the most precious thing in life in order to value its worth. This is my experience with my health. You seem to be doing all the right things to keep yourself in shape both mentally and physically. Ironical that people overlook mental well-being because they take it so much for granted in life. Thanks for stopping by at Soul Talk. Have a wonderful day & week ahead 🙂

  9. I hear you, Esha. Good to know that you are better and much more positive now. It took me a long time to figure this out as well. In fact, I only realised it in the past few months. As you must know, I have been trying to be more mindful. I break my days into a series of activities and I plan them in such a way that I don’t feel stressed. There are still uncertainties at my work front which coupled with the physical stress of taking care of a one-year-old had a month or so back sent me into a downward spiral. But I have tried to consciously remedy the overthinking. Though physically I could do a lot better but mentally and emotionally, I now feel I am in control. Reading books, walks, music and writing, in general, have helped me a lot. Still a work in progress with occasional lapses but I’m learning

    1. I totally understand your situation Nabanita. Isn’t it fantastic that we are able to look at our conditions and still feel we are capable of setting them right when things go offtrack? I’, filled with gratitude when I see that because a lot of the time I also see people who’ve lost it all and are stuck in a situation from where they really can’t help themselves. That can be scary at times! I’m sure things are going to improve for you soon and as M grows older, even though you’ll need to be around for another year or two, you know you are getting closer to your goals both personal and professional, in the long run. I agree that this uncertainty about the future can also be unsettling at times but, with the right inputs, everything will work out fine. We’re all work-in-progress that way, but I guess, it means we’re also on our way to improving things for the better, sooner or later. That certainly makes a difference.

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