People have become increasingly sensitive, so it seems, to the needs of their bodies for good nutrition and adequate rest and exercise. When it comes to the mental equivalents of these values, there appears to be a bit less attention paid.
There are Health Clubs everywhere. National chains and local operations dot every inhabited area with mats, machines, trainers, showers and a sense of camaraderie that comes from working out and sweating along with familiar faces day after day.
Abs of steel are developed, weight is managed and many folks are a lot more conscious about what they put into their bodies than they once were.
But what of the non-physical part of our beings and the exercise IT needs to be in good shape, remain resilient and increase the chances of it staying illness-free.
The mental parts of ourselves need every bit as much attention as does the physical but because, perhaps, trouble in that area does not become noticeable one pound at a time on a scale, it tends to get neglected. There are plenty of Mental Health Clinics to help people whose emotional health has become compromised, but where are the Mental Health Clubs where people can go to exercise their minds in a healthy way?
I suppose that if there were predictable profit to be made by such ventures, they would have become as ubiquitous as have the physical work-our facilities. Lacking that, here are some useful do-it-yourself tips for exercising and strengthening your own mental health.
1. Make a list of the things you like best about yourself and make a second of things about yourself that displease you. This is your personal ‘˜Balance Sheet’ and can be useful in guiding you toward how you want to direct your available energy. Just as goals are an important part of the maintenance of physical health, so are they important in focusing one’s self on what needs exercise mentally.
2. Give yourself at least twenty minutes a day to just be. Sit quietly, close your eyes, breath and try to blank your mind as best you can. This simple exercise, a simplified form of an ancient Buddhist meditation practice, helps to ‘˜reboot’ your mind from the accumulation of issues, thoughts and stressors that tend to accumulate and can get to the point of a critical mass where they actually can compromise your mental health. A little prevention — . 20-30 minutes a day goes a long way. Moreover, you don’t need to join a club to do it. It is simply one element of taking good care of yourself.
3. Allow yourself to think of people you wish you had said something to at one time or another, but decided not to do so. This can be a person either living or dead. The unexpressed feelings we carry can do some harm to our mental health, so as a simple tool, try writing each such person a letter.
NO, not with the intent of mailing it, but rather for the purpose of giving yourself permission to express the feelings you have been carrying around. Such letters can be either saved or destroyed. What you do with them is far less important than the act of writing them as though you were speaking to the person in the here and now.
4. Decide to learn something new. Most adults have feelings about something they wish they would have had the opportunity to learn when they were younger. I have met many people who wished that, as kids, they had learned to play a musical instrument or something about plumbing of home electrical work. Well, so long as a person draws breath, it is not too late!
New learning challenges parts of the human mind which may have been lying dormant. Once awakened, they add value and strength to your mental health.
5. Forgive yourself for the things you have done which, in retrospect, you wish you hadn’t. The past is over. Life and health are about today and tomorrow. Yesterday is a closed book.
This may be the most difficult for many people of the suggestions listed here, but is often the most important. It seems ironic, sometimes, that people who genuinely believe that God forgives them are unable to fully forgive themselves.
After all, if you believe that God grants you forgiveness, who are we/you to deny it to ourselves?
Belief in a Supreme Being is not a requirement, only the ability to leave the past where it belongs — yesterday.
If you can do any three of the above five things after working on them for a while, you will be actively benefitting from an exercise program for your mental health.
It really does matter.