4 ways to strengthen your mental health when things are tough

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus isn’t just a physical threat, but it is also putting many of us under significant mental strain. And while we’re all concerned about keeping our bodies healthy and fit while self-isolating, very few of us pay the same attention to our mental and emotional health.

As any Run/Walk For Life member knows, our mental strength is key to improving our physical health and especially when times are hard, being mentally tough is key to maintaining balance in our lives.

Here are four simple methods to incorporate into your life in order to build those mental muscles.

Start meditating

Meditation teaches us about living in the present without focusing too much on the things we can’t change. When we focus on the past or the future too much, we forget to experience the joys of the now. To many people who haven’t given mindfulness practices a shot, meditation often seems like something far more complicated than it actually is. However, mobile apps like Stop, Breathe & Think make it easy to start including short sessions into your day. Meditating is the first step to mastering the mind, and will also be very useful to you in upcoming races and events.

Keep track of what you do

Just like we log the times we run or keep a food diary to help us eat more healthy, keeping track of what we busy ourselves with is a great way to take note of, and eventually cut toxic habits from our lives. Keeping a journal helps to foster and boost willpower, and it also reveals things that might be detrimental to our mental health, like spending too much time on social media and news websites. Instead, try to also write down one thing that you’re grateful for every day, and watch how your mood improves.

Track your progress

Once you do start meditating or incorporating better mental health habits into your life, also take care to write these things down. It’s much easier to continue fostering a good habit when you can actually see how far you’ve come. Just like you keep track of the distances you cover every day, you should also try to keep detailed notes of the efforts you put into improving your emotional state.

Lean into the uncertainty

We become uncomfortable when we don’t know what the future holds, but any athlete knows that one’s comfort zone is rarely where the magic happens. Get used to feeling uncomfortable by using the time at home to often do something you’re not particularly comfortable with. If you don’t enjoy reading, for example, this is the time to pick up a book. Remember, the point of this exercise isn’t to start liking something you’ve never enjoyed, but to willingly embrace feeling uncomfortable. Every time we do something that pulls us out of our comfort zone, it builds our resilience – which is certainly something we can all use at this point in history.

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