I’m participating in the #BarAThon – a blogging Challenge which involves blogging on every alternate day from Jun 17 – Jun 30, 2017. For each of the seven days, bloggers are free to choose either a theme (‘Seven’) or one of the seven prompts based on Book Titles for each day. Going with the theme—I’ve chosen Seven Steps to Mental Fitness.
A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, More often than not, mental illness is not discussed openly as there is a stigma attached to it. Hence, despite the existence of effective treatments, there is a belief that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent, or incapable of making decisions.
This stigma often leads to abuse, rejection, and isolation and excludes people from timely remedial measures and support. “If only” is a phrase we hear too often in mental health. If only we knew what was going on. If only they knew they weren’t alone. If only we had recognized the signs. If only we had access to treatment.
It often baffles me that while we are so obsessed with losing weight or getting in shape physically, we never think of mental fitness until we find things spiraling out of control? Perhaps some do, but certainly, not in a conscious way.
Practicing a few simple things can actually lead to a noticeable impact on our minds, but only when we practice them, consciously, with our full awareness. These could be:
1. 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. Keeping a journal is a great way to record how we feel, in order to see clearly, the changes happening within us.
2. Taking short breaks (5 or 10 minutes depending on our schedule) through the working day, helps to de-stress. A little stress is but a normal part of life, but chronic stress, especially, over a period of time, can often lead to serious complications of the mind and body. We must disengage and take control before it gets serious. To give a rest to the tired, worn-out brains and bodies, short breaks, are essential. 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.
3. Engaging in 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.
4. 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 out 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? Give it a shot. You will love the change.
5. 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 with whom interactions inevitably lead to a heated argument? Well, no matter 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. Change your response since you have no control to the situation.
6. 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.
7. Talking more often, about our feelings and realising that it isn’t a sign of weakness if we do so. It’s part of taking charge of our well-being and doing what it takes to stay healthy. Talking can be a way to cope with a problem that we’ve been carrying around in our head for a while. The beautiful thing about doing that is that it works both ways. If we open up, it also encourages others to do the same too.
As we approach the end of the busy week today, let us pledge to prioritize our mental well-being alongside our physical well-being. Let us 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.
What is most important is that, if at any point in time, we feel overwhelmed with the things that are happening to us, it is absolutely essential that we seek professional help at the earliest.
Recognizing 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.
How do you keep yourself healthy and mentally fit in your day-to-day life? Are there any tips you would you like to share with us today?
You may read my other posts for the series here:
#Barathon Day 1 – The Fault is in the Stares.
#Barathon Day 2 – Life of Pie.
#Barathon Day 3 – Seven Favourite Film Scores.
#Barathon Day 4 –Seven Memorable Skywatch Shots.
#BarAThon Day 6 – Seven Reasons why people Write