Focusing on Mental Fitness for High Performance
Mental fitness can be defined as having and maintaining a state of well-being and cultivating awareness of how we think, behave and feel. In the same way that our physical fitness also affects our performance and mental health, our mental fitness ultimately affects our physical health, wellness and high performance.
Our brains carry thoughts along neural pathways. These pathways are like ruts that have been created and reinforced over time. If you always take the same route to work, you may notice that you can get there on "autopilot." When we repeat a certain thought pattern many times, that neural pathway is reinforced, and the thinking becomes automatic. When these automatic patterns are positive and healthy-it leads to positive outcomes and performance! However, oftentimes, negative thought patterns, insecurities, lack and trauma from youth (conscious and subconscious) interferes and reduces or inhibits positive thoughts, outcomes and performance-leading to self sabotaging behaviors, depression, lack of motivation and energy.
When you build a mental fitness practice, you have the awareness, mental strength and agility to identify options, choose your route and respond to situations-reaching high performance in multiple areas of your life.
The benefits of strong mental fitness include:
Being mindful. When one is present, they can better listen and hear information, process, and not be impacted by distractions. The result is better processing and the ability to relate to others and enjoy life more deeply.
Response vs. Reaction. When we can fully process information, words and behaviors of others, we can choose to respond vs. having an automatic or stress response, be less emotional and improve our ability to communicate and process more effectively.
Improved cognitive function. Cognitive function includes a variety of mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, decision making, and language comprehension. When you practice mental fitness you have a stronger ability to process quickly and focus, increasing your ability to connect with others, process information and data and make quicker decisions.
Optimism. A positive mindset is a direct result and benefit of mental fitness. Those with less mental fitness tend to revert to a negative thought pattern. This can lead to insecurity and an overall negative attitude on most topics that the individual comes in contact with.
More confidence. With more positive thought patterns, the belief in one's own ability increases. With self love, or a belief in one's strengths, positive feelings surround them, leading to successful outcomes in relationships, professional situations, education and experiences.
Healthy habits. A domino effect occurs with multiple layers of strengths and positivity, improving the ability to manage time, relationships, emotions, outcomes that align with positive goals.
Sleep. As with physical fitness, mental fitness also contributes to better quality sleep and rest. This has a multiplier effect on all of the above.
Top 10 ways to practice Mental Fitness:
- Number one way to practice metacognition (awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes) and mindfulness
- Minimum 10-15 minutes per day
- Start with my 5-minute hypno meditation
- Multi colored fruits and vegetables
- Plant or animal protein
- Water! Stay properly hydrated
- Puzzles including word games like crosswords, scrabble, and sudoku
- As a Rapid Transformational Therapist, reducing limiting beliefs by reprogramming the brain has been powerful for my clients
- Massage therapy, doing things you enjoy and that feel good like bike riding in the sun or walking on a beach
- Talking out loud to a trained specialist can help break through emotional challenges from the past
- How many hours do you get a night? Research shows how important sleep is for brain health and development. Rest is so important.
- Physical fitness produces endorphins that make you feel better, help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline. Yoga besides flexibility and core strength, it is known to play a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language.
- The grounding effects of nature are so powerful to mental and physical health and cognition. To increase the positive effects of grounding, take off your shoes and walk barefoot in water, grass or ground. Here is an exercise to stimulate the positive effects the next time you are outside:
- Notice five things that you can see
- Notice four things that you can hear
- Notice three things that you can feel
- Notice two things that you can smell
- Notice one thing that you can taste
- Has a similar aerobic positive effect as working out, however it is combined with the grounding effects of walking through nature. What’s more, scientific studies in rats have shown that swimming can help generate new brain cells in those parts of the brain where chronic stress has led to cell deterioration – it’s a process called ‘hippocampal neurogenesis’.
- Reading not only helps the brain grow, but reading can be used as therapy. This has become so popular, they now have a term for it. ‘Bibliotherapy’. There are actually Bibliotherapists who can prescribe books to specifically help with mental health issues like anxiety, grief or depression.
How can you tell if you need more mental workouts? Stress, lack or inconsistency in sleep patterns, low energy, low motivation, depression, toxic relationships, overall lack of calm or peace. Feelings of insecurity, jealousness, over caring of how others perceive you, lack of identity.
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