Exercise Your Mental Health – 4 Practices to Enhance Your Well-being
Exercise your mental health? More exercise? Noooo! Don’t make me! OK… maybe you’re not as resistant to the word exercise as I am. I was in the army in my younger days, and my attitude toward exercise has never quite been the same. I’m paying more attention now. After all, I’m 61 and staring down at the belly fat…ugh! But this is about mental health exercise right?
What is mental health? According to MentalHealth.gov., “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” If you google “mental health”, most entries center on mental health problems. This post will take a positive approach, giving you some tools to exercise your mental health and some practices to enhance your well-being.
Feeling Happy Is Just a Part of Well-being
According to the professor of public health at the University of Warwick, Sarah Stewart-Brown: “Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence, and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are too.”
It is a good practice to take an inventory of your mental well-being. Are you content with your life? Enjoying it? How is your confidence meter registering? Do you know you are the only you that will ever grace the earth; and that in itself is so, so special. No one else can offer what you can to this world. So, how is your self-esteem? Do you share your lovely self with others?
Speak Kindly to Yourself
Mental well-being, then, is not something you are – but something you do. If you are not confident in who you are, you will not do the things you feel deep in your heart for fear of rejection or failure. If you act as though your world is falling apart, you really will feel as though your world is falling apart. Likewise, if you believe that you are destined for success and wellbeing, chances are your life will seem a lot better. So, let’s take a look at a few practices that will exercise your mental health.
Connect With People
Scientists say that loneliness is worse than obesity when it comes to the damage it can do to your health. Not only can it increase stress, skin ailments, and depression, but it can also improve your chances of dying prematurely by a staggering 14%. Moreover, loneliness is incredibly damaging to your mental well-being.
For this reason, connecting with other people on a regular basis is a good idea. Especially if your work isolates you from others, it’s important that you find the time in your busy schedule to meet up with friends and family. The power of social engagement cannot be underestimated, and can bring much joy and happiness.
Be More Active
Like loneliness, living a sedentary lifestyle could be doing much more damage to your mental well-being than you ever thought possible. In terms of your physical health, a sedentary lifestyle impacts negatively on blood circulation and muscles. It also boosts the chances of you developing a debilitating disease, such as cancer, heart disease and obesity.
In terms of your mental health, living a sedentary lifestyle is also damaging. As a new study has shown, sitting down for sustained periods of the day can increase the risk of anxiety. Being more active is a great way of switching your focus onto your mental well-being. This doesn’t mean you have to go wild and hit the gym every night. Rather, you could simply take more walks, take up a sport like tennis or golf, or walk to the grocery store instead of taking the car.
Learning a new language, skill, craft, or subject at night school has incredible benefits. These practices boost your memory, intelligence, and focus, and they also reduce the risk of you developing dementia. In addition, they enhance your mental well-being by keeping your brain active and ensure your thoughts are focused on something productive and positive. Learning something new also gives you a boost of confidence and a feeling of accomplishment, which are also keys to well-being.
If you struggle with mental health issues, learning about those issues can actually give you a sense of empowerment. According to an article written by Ashley Santangelo in Jen Reviews, “For me, it was empowering and validating to be reminded that I was not alone. Like I said earlier, 40 million adults in the United States have a mental health condition. And there are forums on the internet, and sometimes in-person support groups, for many different mental health conditions where you can connect with other who are finding solutions. The more you know about the root of your distress, the more power you will have to manage the symptoms and make your own choice about the best next step.”
Be Kind To Others
“Practice kindness every day of your life and you’ll soon realize that you’re already in heaven now.” – Jack Kerouac
Can showing kindness and compassion to others actually help your mental well-being? I think you know the answer to this. Being kind to people makes them feel happier, which in turn makes you feel happier. It could be something as simple as speaking a kind word to a stranger. Making a meal for a sick neighbor or making that long-overdue phone call may be just what the doctor ordered.
A Bonus Practice to Exercise Your Mental Health – Forgiveness
Perhaps the most harmful practice to your well-being is unforgiveness. There have been many studies done on the power of forgiveness. CBN News’ medical reporter Lorie Johnson reminded us in one of her broadcasts that unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease. Dr. Michael Barry, author of The Forgiveness Project warns, “Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety. Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body’s foot soldier in the fight against cancer.” Read this article for more thoughts on forgiveness.
In conclusion, and in order to exercise your mental health, connect with people, be more active, keep learning, be kind to others and forgive. Enhance your well-being and…
This is such a beautiful written article. It really spoke out to me in many ways. I honestly agree to all the points you wrote. It is shocking that something this simple has been forgotten these days and we as humans tend to isolate ourselves not aware we are actually making ourselves ill in the process. Connecting with people, exercise, Learning and the act of kindness and forgiveness all go a far way to benefit the mental health. I myself live by the rule that any little act of kindness can go a great length to someone else in their… Read more »
Thank you Theresa! Kindness goes a long way for the both the giver and the receiver. I appreciate you stopping by!
What a fantastic article! My mother could definitely benefit from this stuff – will be sending her your way!
I particularly loved the part about forgiveness. I can’t even describe how good it feels when the burden of a grudge is taken off your shoulders.
This article really hits home. Thank you so much!
Thank you Ryan! I hope your mom enjoys it as much as you. Take Care, Robin
Hey, thanks for this great article! I had no idea that loneliness could affect your health to such a high degree (I better get out more!). Do you think using social media is an adequate way to combat this loneliness or does it fail to compare with real physical interaction? And are the health effects of social media use too grave to risk using it to counter loneliness?
Personally, I feel the benefits of being in the presence of a person far outweigh interacting on social media. Physical touch, looking into someone’s eyes, laughing & crying, are just a few things that can be experienced in a deeper way in person. Social media has its place; but in my opinion, it should only be used as a ‘supplement’. Before social media, phone calls and letters could definitely give a lonely person a boost. But again, there’s nothing that can take the place of in-person interaction. Thanks for stopping by Danny!