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 5 – Seven Easy Pick-me-Ups
#BarAThon Day 6 – Seven Reasons why people Write
Like we have other illness, our mind too can have problems, we are human beings dealing with lot of stuff. Helpful pointers.
Absolutely! All too often we forget to include our mind too when we think of the other parts of the body that endure stress and exhaustion.
Great pointers, Esha. From your list, I practice 2, 3, 5, 6 and 6. I have been practicing mediation and reiki in the mornings for 10-15, but it’s on and off and still has not become a morning ritual for me, despite getting up early. Must really focus on it.
When I am stuck while writing, I take a break, do something around the house and come back to the laptop and it works for me. When tired, I take power naps. I love word games and puzzles and cant do without them.
Talking about our feelings is so important for your peace of mind and the best is that it helps and strengthens our relationship with the other person too.
Thats great to know, Shilpa. I can see why you say you need to focus on those must-do morning rituals. Its the same with me too. I try and fit in some meditation on most days but there are times when for days I’ve not been able to practice it and Thats wha I am trying to change now. Being consistent is more important is what I understand!
I so well connect to this post – mental agony, stress is something I have seen braved so closely… at times killing self was the only option I saw. But then God’s grace a little hope and positive note from a total stranger gave me a new view to look at things. and today, my daughter tells me to ‘relax maa’ I love it when she says it. Lovely post all the points bring energy and concentrate positivism in self.
here’s mine – http://www.gleefulblogger.com/2017/07/01/call-wind-time-never-stop-anyone/
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I can understand why you feel so strongly about the angst and the agony of it! So many of us can relate to that feeling just like you do! I can say you are blessed to have such an amazing daughter who cares so much for you!
Sometime people come into our lives only to sort things out for us and we only can only count on life’s blessings then! Thank you for stopping by the blog and sharing your thoughts! Will check out yours too 😊
Super duper tips, Esha. Loved all your posts, thank you.
I keep myself perked up by cuddling up to my furry girls and spending time with my daughters. Sometimes listening to my kind of music. A good workout like a long ride on my bicycle. All this really helps me stay grounded.
And yes responding and not reacting in negative situations is mostly my mantra , though I do fail at times but I keep striving😊
This was such a fun challenge and I’m glad we nailed it.
My latest posts:
Thank you so much, Natasha. I loved reading your tips to a happier, healthier life …yes, kids are the best way to stay cheerful, isn’t it? Music is my way of relaxing too…and as for dealing with bad vibes, I’m much better now, in ignoring what drains my energy and positivity. For me, being mindful also helps in a big way!
Great tips and very useful. Jotting them down
You’re welcome, Neha. 🙂
All the 7 ways are great. Loved to apply these in my daily routine. This is something I am trying to set my feet into for long. My Mother is my biggest support. A call to her talking about my weakness or strengths marks my day complete.
Thanks! I can relate to that equation you share with your mom, Upasna. I’m also very close to mine and draw a lot of strength from her every day.
I love your positive attitude to life and enjoyed spending these 7 posts with you. To keep my peace of mind I believe in doing some deep breathing when I am angry . I also like to talk off my stress with friends who are my punching bags. I call my mother every day and touch base with her. This is one routine that keeps me calm even though my mom and I don’t always have the same ideas on things….
I call my mom too, every single day…and speaking to her always makes me feel good, no matter what. It also helps that we think alike on many things if not everything! Btw, thanks for showering so much love and support on my posts over this challenge and even beyond. I had so much so many wonderful blogs. Enjoyed reading your posts equally as much, and am so glad we’ve made it through the #Barathon even after joining in late! 🙂
Loved the tips Esha- going to start my morning 30 mts for myself me time….. Yes mental fitness is extremely important too. Good one to round up the barathon 🙂
Thanks Shalz! Fab idea of 30 mins me-time in the morning. I love mine too and think everyone should have it. It feels like your batteries are recharged for the day! Go for it, girl!
A good way to end the BarAThon. I am happy so many people have started talking about mental fitness these days, a topic which has been taboo for a long time.
Thanks Namratha. There is a change in the way people think about mental illness these days and it is a good sign. Help is assured for those who wish to acknowledge it and that is a big positive!
Enjoyed these tips. I agree with zainab but its something I continue to strive for!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Marquessa.
really hard to ‘not’ respond to the negative vibes. But, yes need to practice,
I understand what you mean, Zainab. Hard but nor impossible, I guess. We all learn, with time, to adapt to what’s best for us.