Mental fitness is just as crucial as physical fitness, and yet so many people neglect to intentionally take care of their brain health. But just like our bodies need exercise to stay healthy, our brains need exercise to stay healthy too to increase cognitive abilities, and prevent cognitive decline!
In this blog post, we will discuss what mental fitness means, why it's so important, and several strategies for improving it.
Why is Mental Fitness Important?
Mental fitness is important for a variety of reasons. For one, it's essential for the mind-body connection. When our minds are healthy and fit, we're better able to connect with our bodies and vice versa. Research suggests, that this connection is essential for overall health and well-being.
Additionally, mental fitness can improve the quality of our lives. A healthy brain allows us to think more clearly, increase our brain’s processing speed, allows us to focus more efficiently, and be more productive in all areas of life. It also helps us to better manage stress and anxiety, two common mental health challenges that can negatively impact our lives if left unchecked.
Finally, mental fitness is vital for relaxation. A healthy brain allows us to unwind and relax more quickly after a long day or a stressful event. When our minds are healthy and fit, we're better able to enjoy the good things in life and manage the bad ones more effectively. At the same time, a healthier brain is also more resilient to whatever life throws at us.
As this article from Elemental explains:
"In the brain, resilience means protecting against many stress-induced changes, particularly regarding the size, activity, and connectivity of the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex — the brain's fear, memory and mood, and executive control centers, respectively."
(Do you want to read more about resilience? We share 10 powerful ways to enhance your resilience here)
So, how exactly can you go about setting yourself up for success and boosting your mental fitness? Let's dive into tips for doing just that now!
Different Ways to Boost Brain Fitness & Mental Health
As it turns out, there are all kinds of ways to boost your brain fitness and mental health. It all comes down to the methods that work best for you and the ones you most enjoy.
To give you a head start, here are the strategies we'll cover today:
- Brain games
- Learning a new language
- Setting aside time for yourself
- Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation
Brain games or Music
Brain games or playing a musical instrument are mentally stimulating, and a fun and effective way to help you keep your mind fit. These can be anything from learning the guitar or piano to crosswords and Sudoku which are more challenging memory and logic puzzles. Not only are these activities fun, but they give your brain the mental workout it needs to stay sharp.
Playing mental fitness games regularly can help improve attention span, focus, problem-solving skills, and overall cognitive function.
Meditation has also been shown to help improve mental fitness in various ways.
For one, it can help to improve focus and concentration. Additionally, meditation has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety levels, leading to improved mental clarity and peace of mind.
Furthermore, meditation can also help to boost brain power and memory function. All of these benefits combined make meditation an excellent way to improve mental fitness.
If, at first thought, meditation doesn't appeal to you, keep in mind there are all sorts of different kinds of meditation. That means there's a good chance one of them will work for you!
Along with brain-boosting benefits, did you know meditation before sleep also has the added benefit of helping you sleep better and for longer?
Learning a new language
Another great way for improving your brain function and mental fitness, especially as you age is learning a new language. Learning a new language has been shown to provide many mental health benefits, including improved cognitive function, increased mental flexibility, and enhanced memory.
Additionally, learning a new language can also help delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Learning a new language is one of the best, and more challenging ways to keep your brain active, and prevent memory loss.
Modern technology has also made it a lot easier, or at least more convenient, than ever to learn a new language. There are all kinds of apps and online courses available to help you quickly and easily learn a new language. So, if it's something you've always wanted to do, now is the time!
There's an old saying that goes, "a healthy mind is a healthy body." What this means is that mental and physical health are interconnected. So, if we want to have a strong and healthy body, we need to have a solid and healthy mind. And vice versa.
This is where mental fitness comes in. Mental fitness is all about keeping our minds sharp, flexible, and resilient. It's about thinking, concentrating intensely, and remembering things well. It's also about having the emotional stability to deal with stress and setbacks. And for many people, yoga provides them with that emotional stability, while also boasting several physical benefits.
Yoga is such a powerful exercise that it has even been found to improve mental fitness in people who have Alzheimer's disease. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that twelve weeks of yoga improved mental fitness in patients with early-stage Alzheimer's. The participants had better scores on tests that measured memory, attention, and brain function than those who didn't do yoga.
Simple poses to try
So, how can you start incorporating yoga into your life to improve your mental fitness? Below are three beginner-friendly yoga poses that you can do at home:
- Mountain pose: Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides. Take a deep breath in and raise your arms overhead as you exhale. Then, sweep your arms back down to your sides as you inhale.
- Downward-facing dog: Start on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. As you exhale, lift your knees up and away from the floor and straighten your legs. Keep your feet hip-width apart and press back through your heels to lengthen your spine.
- Warrior I: Start in mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step back with your left leg, keeping both legs straight. Turn your left foot to point out at a 45-degree angle and bend into your right knee so it's directly over your ankle. Reach both arms up overhead, framing your face with your hands. Then, look up at your left hand. Hold for five breaths before repeating on the other side.
Doing these yoga poses a few times a week can help improve your mental fitness, as well as your physical fitness.
Setting aside time for yourself
Making time for yourself is another critical component of mental fitness & brain training.
When you make time for yourself, you can focus on your thoughts and feelings without distractions. This can help you better understand yourself and figure out how to cope with stressors in your life.
A great way to spend this time with yourself is exercising. Doing so provides you with the benefits of one-on-one time with yourself and the benefits of physical exercise in one. Exercise releases endorphins that have mood-boosting effects, so even just a few minutes of physical activity can improve your mental state.
Finally, setting aside time for yourself allows you to relax and recharge, which is essential for maintaining a healthy mental balance. By taking some time each day to focus on your mental fitness, you can improve your overall well-being and quality of life.
As important as setting aside time for yourself is for mental fitness, socializing is also a vital component of a healthy brain. Several studies show the incredible effect socializing can have on the brain and how it can help reduce stress, improve memory and mental flexibility, and increase overall cognitive function.
So go ahead and schedule that coffee date with a friend, join a book club, or finally sign up for that cooking class you've been wanting to try. Your brain will thank you for it!
Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Mental Fitness
One promising method of improving mental fitness is transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS). tVNS is a non-invasive practice that involves stimulating the vagus nerve with gentle electrical impulses. This stimulation has been shown to improve mental clarity and focus and reduce stress and anxiety in many people.
tVNS is safe and easy to use, making it an attractive option for those looking to improve their mental fitness while also reaping all the other potential rewards of vagus nerve stimulation.
If you're interested in trying tVNS to improve your mental fitness, Xen by Neuvana is precisely what you've been waiting for. It allows users to experience vagus nerve stimulation with the help of vagus-nerve-stimulating headphones and a handheld device that connects to their phone. Shop for yours today!
Start Improving Your Mental Fitness Today
There are many different ways to improve mental fitness, but some of the most effective include the methods we shared today, including vagus nerve stimulation. However, no matter what methods you choose to try, making time for yourself and your mental health is essential for a healthy brain.