Going to the gym, home workouts, and doing yoga often come up, among others, when talking about health. After all, physical fitness helps reduce the risk of various ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular disease while also helping manage one’s weight. Treating physical fitness as an integral part of one’s well-being is extremely important in staying healthy, but why is mental fitness rarely given the same priority?
Mental fitness is often overlooked but should be valued just as much as physical fitness. Maintaining mental fitness means taking care of one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. This ensures that one’s ability to cope with everyday stress and maintain good relationships with others is improved as time goes on.
Here, you’ll find the benefits and some tips for improving mental health, along with the importance of doing so in the first place.
Why Should You Care about Mental Health?
The stigma around mental health has prevented many from communicating with others and seeking help for their troubles. Although much of this stigma is now being addressed in mainstream media, mental health remains an issue requiring more support in awareness and policy campaigns.
Here are some reasons why we must treat mental health with the same importance as physical health:
1. Body and mind connection
Research has proven that having mental health issues can cause one’s physical health to suffer. For example, those suffering from depression or chronic anxiety may have trouble sleeping and eating properly, thus risking their physical health. Also, having little to no physical exercise can double the risk of having dementia or depression.
2. Mental illness can affect one’s family
Some mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and major depression tend to run in families and affect generations. This genetic risk can lead to children suffering from a greater risk of abuse and emotional-behavioral issues as they grow up.
3. Unaddressed mental health issues may be dangerous
Unaddressed mental illnesses are a global public concern brought on by factors such as inaccessibility to mental health resources, lack of funds to avail health services, and the stigma that stops people from seeking treatment. Whatever the case, untreated mental illnesses may lead to dangers such as increased rates of suicide, loss of productivity, and reduced life expectancy.
If you need advice on how to improve your mental fitness, here are some tips from health professionals that may help:
Tips for Mental Fitness
People often use a variety of stress relief techniques depending on the skills or hobbies they have. One of the most common techniques is mindfulness meditation. This activity helps reduce stress and lower the risk of health issues like high blood pressure and anxiety. Giving your brain some time to recharge can also help you feel more relaxed and ready to take on the rest of your day.
2. Learn something new
Learning a new skill or language activates different parts of your brain. Committing to learning leads to increased ability in memory, concentration, and multitasking. This allows you to finish tasks and make decisions with precision and clarity, thus enhancing your mental capacity even as you age.
3. Food for thought
Different food can enhance the brain’s health just as much as it can enhance the body’s. It would help if you prioritized a healthy intake of fish oils, nuts, and flax seeds in your diet. It can help increase cognitive function necessary for maintaining mental fitness.
If you’re still not sold on why mental fitness is just as necessary as physical fitness, here are some added benefits to prioritizing your mental well-being:
Benefits of Mental Fitness
1. Mental exercise sharpens the mind
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan found that mental activities, such as memory training exercises, can enhance one’s “fluid intelligence,” which involves reasoning and problem-solving skills. Various mental exercises also enhance concentration and focus as one age, such as learning a new language, picking up a new skill, or even dancing.
2. Learn effective stress management techniques
Taking care of your mental well-being entails knowing how to cope with the stress of everyday life. Although moderate stress is often necessary, there are times when overwhelming stress must be dealt with to avoid serious harm to your mental and physical well-being. When you take steps to be mentally fit, you become better equippedto deal with stress and reduce anxiety, fear, irritability, anger, and more.
3. Improves socio-emotional behavior
Engaging in mental and physical exercises allows you to enjoy clearer thinking and improved moods instead of periods of irritability and anxiety when one has deteriorating mental fitness. The ability to think clearly also leads to a greater sense of inner peace, which can be further tapped into through mindfulness meditation.
Furthermore, when your mood and thinking improve, you can navigate social relationships without having to worry about risks of depression or lowered self-esteem.
1. Enhanced physical health
As you take care of your body, you also commit to strengthening your mind. Achieving mental fitness through physical exercise helps limit and prevent pain and several diseases that come with aging. You can also enjoy better sleep, increased energy, and stronger resilience for physical and mental adversities.
2. Counseling benefits
Those who have the resources to avail of counseling services find an increasein their self-esteem and self-acceptance after working with their psychological counselors. This type of treatment allows for a better understanding of your mental health conditions and emotions, thus improving your emotion regulation skills and communication skills.
Whichever tip or advice you may find helpful, remember that taking care of your mind and body is a constant process. Take your time to figure out how you can best help yourself, and remember that you’re not alone in your struggles and healing.
When you take the steps towards strengthening your physical and mental well-being, know that others are fighting alongside you as you try to live a healthier, longer, and happier life.
Top Doctor Magazine is a magazine from doctors for doctors and patients. We cover everything from cutting-edge medical techniques and procedures to enterprising doctors, dentists, surgeons, naturopaths, chiropaths, orthodontists, and more who are thought leaders within their own medical practice and changing the way we all experience medicine for the better.
We wish to be your one-stop digest for inspiration by other professionals in your field who are making waves and setting trends. If you, too, are a trend-setter, reach out to us so we can interview you for your own spotlight within an upcoming Top Doctor Magazine issue!
Brianna Connors & Derek Archer Co-Editors