Taking care of your mental health is as essential as staying physically fit.
The COVID-19 pandemic did the entire humanity dirty – you will hardly find at least one person who wouldn’t agree their mental state deteriorated over the past year and a half.
A study by Statista provides a great snapshot of the changes in mental stress among adults month by month from April 2020 to January 2021, where the number of people reporting more mental stress dropped over these months, but the number of those still struggling with the same mental stress level has increased dramatically.
These numbers remind us all about the importance of being mentally and emotionally fit. People, who are in tune with their mental and emotional health, have a set of coping mechanisms helping them deal with stress during the most trying times.
So, how do you become mentally and emotionally fit?
Here are some ideas.
Commit to Regular Exercise
It might sound like a broken record, but exercise is the first coping mechanism you should develop if you often feel stressed or about to have a nervous breakdown (we’ve all been there).
Some studies have investigated and proven the connection between regular exercise and better mental health. For instance, a study involving 1.2 million U.S. citizens has revealed that people who do sports consistently have 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health a month.
The Lancet Psychiatry journal that published this study names the following sports as the most beneficial for mental wellness:
- team sports
- exercising at the gym
As for the time of exercise, the Lancet recommends working out for no more than 45 minutes three to five times a week. Anything more than that can actually have a reverse effect and harm your mental and emotional state even more.
In its turn, the Australian Department of Health advises at least a 30-minute workout on most or all days of the week. You don’t have to commit to all 30 minutes right away – if you find it easier, make it 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours, especially if you have a sedentary job.
Start Learning Foreign Languages
You might be thinking – exercise is the obvious choice for better mental and emotional health. But what does learning a foreign language have to do with it?
You’d be surprised, but some studies have revealed the connection between mental health and learning languages. A 2019 study with participants aged between 59 and 79 has shown that, after learning a second language for four months, all involved reported better global cognition (thinking and problem-solving).
This effect is understandable – learning something new has proven to form stronger neuron connections, helping memory and mood. And since you constantly need to enhance your knowledge of a foreign language, you will always be learning something new.
But what is the best way to learn a foreign language?
It’s always better to start small. You need to build your language learning routine step-by-step to maximize your results and not overwhelm yourself at the same time.
For instance, if you want to learn Russian, the optimal way would be to start from the alphabet and develop an understanding of a flexible sentence structure. Don’t overcomplicate it with the vocabulary as well – learn the basics first, and then move forward to more complex constructs.
Another important point in language learning is consistency. Try to commit to at least 15 minutes of language learning a day. This way, you will retain your knowledge for longer and learn a language stress-free.
Try Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is a method of changing your perception of the world. It’s a psychotherapeutic approach helping you identify harmful and maladaptive thoughts. This method is often involved in treating patients with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Essentially, cognitive restructuring helps you see one problem from different perspectives. For instance, if you struggle with depression and think that there is no way out, cognitive restructuring therapy will guide you to sources where you can find help.
Does cognitive restructuring actually work?
A study published in HHS Public Health has shown that cognitive restructuring helps people with conditioned fear. 24 hours after the participants went through therapy involving this approach, they reported feeling less stressed, fearful, and unconfident.
So, if you can afford it, find a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioural therapy and ask if there’s an option to go through cognitive restructuring.
Is it possible to become mentally and emotionally fit?
Yes, but it’s easier said than done.
Our brain gets hooked on negative thoughts and emotions pretty fast, and it can take quite a while to re-train it.
However, there are a few things you can do. Regular exercise, learning a foreign language, and cognitive restructuring therapy have all proven to improve mental and emotional health and help develop lasting coping mechanisms.
The only thing needed from you is consistency. Once you commit to getting mentally and emotionally fit, nothing will stop you.
About the author: Ryan is a passionate blogger and writer who likes sharing his thoughts and. Now he works as a content editor and internet researcher, you can check his website. He likes to travel and explore new countries.