Just as we develop our physical muscles to gain strength and maintain our health, we also need to pay attention to strengthening our mental muscles. Learning to develop mental strength can help in many ways from overcoming challenging situations, to learning from and bouncing back from failure to viewing these challenges as opportunities for growth. Read on for six healthy habits you can develop to maintain your mental strength.
Not only is regular exercise good for our physical health, but it also does wonders for our mental health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which trigger all sorts of benefits. Exercise ties your brain and body together and can improve your mood and energy levels over the long term. And this benefit isn’t limited to one specific exercise. Everything from running/walking to weight or resistance training to yoga and meditation can boost your brain power.
Sleep is More Important that you Think
While everyone is different, most experts agree that people should regularly get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Not maintaining regular, good sleep can cause a variety of issues. If you have had multiple nights of tossing and turning then you know the brain fog, stress and anxiety that can come throughout the next day. Create a nighttime routine that helps to set you up for success.
Be a Lifelong Learner
One advantage to exercising those mental muscles can provide an important long-term benefit. Harvard Medical School believes that learning a new skill may slow down cognitive decline as you age. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by learning a new language, instrument or taking up a new hobby like photography or painting. If none of those options sounds appealing, try puzzles or crosswords which have also been found to help with improving memory and cognitive functioning.
This is a key trait among many mentally strong people. Being thankful, or practicing gratitude, can be a powerful tool with scientifically proven benefits. Rather than focus on the negative and let a problem boil over, people who practice gratitude improve empathy and can keep toxic responses in check (nobody wants to be around someone resentful or envious).
One study found that gratitude did, in fact, increase mental strength as it helped to improve resilience following the attacks on September 11, 2001. No matter how traumatic the event, being thankful and recognizing the positive developed strength and resilience.
Self-Care is Key
Not everyone falls into the same self-care routine. While it can look different for most everyone, prioritizing a few things like sleep and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, exercising, and finding ways to relax and unplug can be essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind.
You may read that statement and think, “I barely have enough money myself! How can I practice generosity?” We’re not simply talking about money here, although you could certainly be generous with your finances. Another way to practice generosity is to spend time with people who could use a little extra kindness in their lives. For example, you could donate some time to a retirement center or volunteer to be a big brother/big sister. You could lend your talents to help fund a cause you care about or simply donate the money you would spend on lunch once a week to your favorite charity. There are a lot of ways to practice generosity that don’t involve money at all!
As you can see, our mental strength is tied to many different healthy practices. By adopting positive habits, you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and be well on your way to greater physical and mental well-being.