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?