Why mental fitness is important
Fitness excercises for your brain
- Topic Humour
- Topic Creativity
- Topic Openness and flexiblity
- Topic Mindfulness and activation of resources
- Topic Change Mindset
Be alert to the humour of life
Try to be more mindful in your day-to-day life. Which unintentionally humorous things do you see or hear in newspapers, on company signs or in names or situations you encounter? It might be a sleeping person on the train or a funny advertising poster.
And if you yourself fall victim to some misfortune, try to adopt an observer’s perspective and see the funny sides of what happened.
Keep a humour diary
Take a bit of time every day to write down all the funny situations you encountered that day. You will be amazed at how quickly you accumulate a sizeable collection of anecdotes. These will brighten your mood and can also be put to good use in conversation.
Take “information-free” breaks
Take time to appreciate the “in-between moments” in which nothing is happening, such as when you are standing in a queue or sitting on the toilet. Resist the urge to look at your smartphone. Consciously minimise distractions and allow your mind to wander. If worries or thoughts like “Oh, I need to...” arise, simply let them go and keep your attention in the moment. As you do this, your blood pressure will fall, your mood will improve and you will become more creative. Try it!
Break your routines
To adopt new perspectives – which is the best prerequisite for creativity – it is worth breaking your routine and doing things differently from time to time. Take a different route to work, change your morning routine, visit a new place or spend a day doing all activities like brushing your teeth and opening doors with your non-dominant hand.
Play games and dance
When we play games and dance, we stimulate our creativity and simultaneously boost our physical and mental health. Invite friends or relatives who you do not feel any pressure to perform in front of to a games or dance evening – and enjoy it!
Mental “stretching” exercises
- Intellectual flexibility: tackle a new problem, read a book on a new subject or discuss a new topic with someone.
- Social flexibility: talk to a person you don’t know or call someone who you have not been in contact with for a long time.
- Financial flexibility: help someone in need or donate to a charity – however much you can manage.
- Emotional flexibility: tell someone honestly how you are feeling or about a difficult experience you have had, give somebody a sincere compliment.
What gives you strength?
Create two columns on a sheet of paper and write down which external and internal resources are available to you.
- Examples of external resources: Which people do you contact when you are feeling bad or having a hard time? Which places do you go to? Which books do you read?
- Examples of internal resources: Which thoughts and memories give you strength? What are you good at? What have you successfully mastered in your life and which crises did you emerge from stronger than before?
When you are finished, pin the list up somewhere so you can look at it again when the going gets tough and remind yourself of your resources. Of course, you may also add to it at any time.
Check your personal energy levels
Do regular, quick checks of your personal energy level. Go through the areas of sleep, relaxation, nutrition, physical activity and mental health, for example. What can you change in order to restore your energy levels?
Create little islands of time in your daily life
Create little islands of time in the midst of your daily hustle and bustle to “refuel”. For example, you could mindfully drink a cup of green tea, listen to the birds singing or wash your hands in warm water.
Keep a gratitude journal
Take a few moments – if possible every day – to write down the things you are currently grateful for. This exercise is especially effective if you do it before going to bed. Since our brains cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time, the feeling of contentedness and relaxation this exercise creates can also help to improve our quality of sleep.
Change your focus
In difficult situations, try to focus on what is going well and what you have already achieved. This will give you the courage you need to tackle the new challenge.
Example: Rather than thinking about all the problems you are facing before you perform a difficult task, reflect on what you have already achieved instead.
Change your perspective with the “two-sides-of-the-same-coin” exercise
Many situations are not exclusively good or bad. Instead, our perspective – i.e. how we think about such situations – influences how we experience them. Next time you get annoyed about something, try to look at the other side of the coin and consider which positive aspects you can discover in the situation and how you can benefit from them.
For example, if you received some negative feedback, you could think to yourself: “This can help me to move forwards and learn.”
Change your physical reaction
When your thoughts get out of control and your worries or anxieties get the upper hand, physical activity is often more helpful than thought exercises. Break your negative thought loop with the following physical activities, for example:
- Take a cold shower
- Go for a walk or run in the fresh air
- Do some push-ups
- Do some conscious breathing
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