Do you want to operate at a peak level of wellness? The truth is, most fitness programs only get you halfway up the mountain. The idea of health-related fitness has been reduced down to just 5 components: Cardiovascular Endurance, Muscle Strength, Muscle Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition). These 5 components are essential pieces of fitness, but it isn't the whole picture. You can not ignore mental fitness and when you are on the journey towards a high level of wellness.
We need to start training our emotions as hard as we train our bodies. This is the only way for us to reach Total Wellness.
Total Wellness = Mental Fitness + Physical Fitness
So, how do we begin to change and improve our mental fitness alongside our physical? Well, we first are going to look at why we need to develop mental fitness, then we will give you a recommended holistic exercise to try.
Self-awareness is something that a lot of people just ignore. However, if you are going to be mentally fit, you have to become self-aware.
Self-awareness is tough. It's a lot easier to mask your emotions with distractions. Common ones are social media, television, drugs, alcohol, co-dependent relationships, (insert your distraction here), then face your stuff. But this journey is worth it if you want to see your relationships, your feelings, and your communities elevate
So how do you get more self-aware?
A great way to start being more aware of yourself is to begin a meditation routine that can help you focus yourself inward and increase self-awareness.
Next, you have to get honest with yourself, your blind spots, and take responsibility for the things in your life. A great practice is to journal or blog; really, any forum where you can spew out all the thoughts floating around inside your mind without judgment from others (or even yourself). This may be difficult at first, but the act of purging out the junk is a great way to start lightening up your spirit.
Sitting still might be too difficult for you (it's much harder than most people think). So some good exercises to practice to get your thoughts centered are:
Self-awareness is the first step towards mental fitness. Once we are aware of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, it becomes easier to make changes that will help us become whole again. Self-aware people have no trouble understanding themselves from all angles and how their actions affect the world around them (for better and worse). Whereas those who are not self-aware tend to be more reactive and resistant to life (ie life beats the snot of you).
This is a twist on knowing your physical boundaries. When you go past your limits physically, you get injured. Go past your mental limits, you get injured.
Believe it or not, thinking will burn calories. Do you know that feeling of being exhausted after binge-watching a TV show? Well, that is because your brain was processing information and "working out".
Overworked brain = burnout.
You need to become aware of what your body can handle in terms of mental stimuli. You probably didn't realize that the second episode of "Grey's Anatomy" would put you closer to the edge of burnout. Well, where is Meredith Grey now that you are in a mental crisis?
You can also think of it as that second glass of wine that seemed like such a great idea at the time, but the following day disagrees with the decision.
To prevent overworking your brain, you need to set boundaries against your own impulses. That means not checking email on your phone after hours, limiting your social media consumption, or binge-watching YouTube without taking extended periods of mental breaks.
Have you ever heard of the term depersonalization? It's when a person is so overwhelmed that they can't even recognize themselves. Imagine if you are always in a constant state of "putting out fires" what is the damage? Suppose you can get injured and feel long-term pain from overworking a muscle. In that case, you can see similar long-term adverse effects from underworking your emotions.
Depersonalization is the detachment of yourself from reality, and it can cause severe psychological problems. You might feel as though you're living a different life or that the world around you is unreal. Even worse, depersonalization causes people to question their own existence and what they think about themselves, like if they are worthy of anything in this world. As you can see, being mentally fit is critical to fighting back against depersonalization so you can regain your sense of purpose, self-worth, and mission.
Kind of scary stuff right?!
Well, it doesn't have to be...
Holistic fitness routines are a great start towards developing your mental fitness while still not ignoring your physical fitness. Let's explore potentially the greatest one, Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is like dynamic stretching compared to Yoga as static stretching. While Yoga is focused on a single stretch held for some time, Tai Chi is all about fluidity and continuous movement. This is why Tai Chi is usually more accessible to beginners but can be just as challenging for advanced practitioners in the breathing and stretching aspect of this ancient practice.
Tai Chi is considered moving meditation and has both mental fitness and physical fitness covered. Remember our equation earlier, total wellness = mental fitness + physical fitness.
Our company TaijiFit has put together a 10-minute holistic health routine based on Tai Chi principles. It is lead by David-Dorian Ross who has been leading and training holistic leaders for years. It's totally free and you could do it every day for the rest of your life to improve your mental fitness.
Mental fitness affects how you view yourself and impacts your relationships with others and the world around you. Mental fatigue (or lack thereof) will define what type of life experience we have for ourselves every day. So it is vital that you begin your mental fitness routine today!
Remember Total Wellness = Mental Fitness + Physical Fitness