Since the mind has an effect on the body, (see studies under Attitude, it’s important that we look after our mental health. Canadian Mental Health Association ‘s national office has adopted this message:
|Practice mind + body fitness. It’s one thing to look after your body, just don’t forget about your mind.|
Practicing mind + body fitness centres on a healthy mind, body and spirit. It’s a positive, pro-active enjoyable way to equip ourselves for the many and varied challenges that each day can bring.
Gym memberships, yoga, spinning classes, rock climbing ― we pay a lot of attention to our physical fitness, and we reap many benefits, like renewed energy, improved sleep and sleeker bodies. We have all come to realize the power of regular physical activity to enhance our sense of general well-being.
What if we devoted the same attention and energy to nourishing our mental health? Our society has come to recognize that a state of good health includes both physical and emotional health. Both are essential for a well-balanced life. And yet, the awareness that surrounds physical fitness is by no means matched by a recognition of the need to support and develop our mental fitness. Mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a mentally healthy state, just as physical fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good physical health.
Having good mental health enables us to more fully enjoy and appreciate our environment and the people in it. We can often better resist stress and tackle our challenges in a positive frame of mind. It allows us to be creative, to use our mental abilities to the fullest extent and make the most of opportunities.
People’s responses to stress and difficult events are as individual as the people experiencing them. So everyone will assess and measure their mental fitness in different ways. But there are common factors which facilitate good mental health. By considering some of these factors, it is possible to identify how we can improve our mental fitness:
- Realistic attitude: When we are able to feel and draw on optimism, a sense of perspective and flexibility, we gain the resilience needed to endure shock, hardship or change, and to carry on with our lives
- Self-esteem and confidence: Instead of focusing on what we are lacking, we need to focus on the qualities we do have that make us a good friend, a valued colleague, a loving parent or family member
- Emotional support: Close ties with family and friends build support networks through which we receive help and, in turn, help others
- Mental agility: Giving our minds and bodies a workout by engaging in a variety of mental activities – such as reading a book, solving crosswords or playing a musical instrument – enhances mental agility and promotes overall wellness.
Excerpts from CMHA National website.