Mental Fitness Explained by a CBT Psychologist
Are you familiar with the concept of mental fitness and do you know how to become more mentally fit?
Today we know that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with a mental illness by the time they reach age 40. Mental fitness is a concept that has only emerged in the past few years. It was developed to help people understand that just as we can improve our physical health by moving our bodies, we improve our mental health by strengthening our minds.
I’m not referring to memory games or thinking puzzles, but rather exercises that keep you mentally well and build up your resilience to stress. Just as it’s easy to opt for the couch and Netflix rather than exercise, it’s also easy to feed negative thoughts and behaviour patterns that evoke feelings of sadness, worry, and anxiety.
We’re more likely to get sick when we don’t exercise or nourish our bodies with proper nutrition. Similarly, when we don’t practice healthy cognitive practices, the more likely it is for mental illness to develop.
Neurons that Fire Together Wire Together
Mental fitness is about strengthening the neural pathways that lead to the most realistic and objective thoughts. It’s about breaking patterns so that you experience positive emotions more regularly than negative ones. If you’ve been viewing life events through a glass half empty lens, mental fitness can help.
The more we feed negative thoughts and behaviours, the more likely they will occur. This is due to the neuroplasticity of our brains. Science has proven that humans have an enormous capacity to constantly rewire our brains throughout our lives. Thoughts that evoke certain emotions cluster together via neural pathways. This means that every time we allow a negative thought to repeat, it strengthens. Mental Fitness seeks to strengthen neural networks that make you feel mentally healthy.
You’ll feel more confident, resilient and energized by improving your mental fitness. It’s natural to feel sadness and worry but by strengthening your mental fitness, it will become more difficult for sadness to progress to depression and worry to spiral into anxiety.
How does it work?
Learning techniques that improve your mental fitness can be broken down into three skills that work in tandem to one another:
- 1. Recognizing the patterns that create difficult emotions and negative moods.
- 2. Integrating techniques to regulate overwhelming emotions and thoughts as and when they arise.
- 3. Resolving the patterns that detract from your well-being by building new ones.
Part of strengthening your mental fitness is discovering strategies that are most effective for you. Similar to how some people prefer to play outdoor team sports vs. going to the gym, you’ll discover methods that work better for you. Starling Minds’ mental fitness program offers in-depth training that will help you discover ways to strengthen your mental fitness.