In recent years, it has been difficult not to see a print ad, TV commercial, billboard, or medium that doesn’t touch on some element of physical fitness. Though these are very prominent and easy to find, how often do you see or hear about the concept of getting your mind mentally fit? Probably rarely, despite its importance. Would you like to learn more about getting and staying mentally fit?
We know that getting and staying physically fit can be a benefit in several ways: being stronger, having more energy, and being less likely to be injured. However, despite the pervasive importance of mental fitness, very little time and energy is spent on defining and encouraging it. Mental fitness can be defined as having and maintaining a state of well-being regarding how we think, feel, and behave. Similar to physical fitness, mental fitness can help us feel stronger, have endurance to complete daily tasks, and afford us the ability to handle stress in our world.
If we are mentally fit, we will have the ability to think through situations and realize that we have options regarding how we react. This ability to pause and “think it through,” will help us avoid the need to retract or apologize for an impulsive response. Mental fitness allows for mental agility and flexibility, through which both problem solving and creativity can blend, and our quality of life benefit.
Our brains become accustomed to how we think about certain situations. If we repeat the same thought process over and over, it becomes “automatic” for that thought to occur. While this may be a benefit if the thought is positive, what if it’s a negative thought? Do you know someone who appears to always be negative? Seemingly no matter what is said, the response from that person is negative. The mental health field refers to this phenomenon as Automatic Negative Thoughts. We the people refer to this person as a downer or as pessimistic.
Without doing some mental fitness work, we can develop this automatic negative thinking. As you can imagine, if you have negative thoughts, you will likely have negative feelings which are more likely to lead to negative behaviors. Equally likely, if you are mentally fit and have positive thoughts, you will likely have positive feelings, and express positive behaviors. These concepts are derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which was initially developed by Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck in the 1950s and 1960s.
The English proverb, “Birds of a feather flock together,” can be used to propose how mental fitness has the potential to attract mental fitness. In other words, we are driven to select like-minded partners according to research performed in the US in 2016, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Consequently, as you are improving your mental fitness, surround yourself with others seeking and realizing positivity and growth mindsets.
If this sounds interesting and familiar, it’s time to revisit and improve your mental fitness. Also, if this seems like something you want to learn more about, set up a time to meet with a One Health Coach!