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Here is a tip for you: those stretches you do before and after your workouts that keep you limber and help prevent injuries? Those are good for your brain too. A sprain or a strain in your frontal cortex may be harder to see, but you will still feel it, and an injury to your brain will affect your physical fitness.
In this case, we are not talking about a physical injury like a concussion. We’re talking about mental wellness or making sure your brain is both flexible and strong. But how do you do this? It is not like you can schedule an hour of brain yoga or make Tuesday “brain day” and run your brain on the mental treadmill for an hour.
Here are some tips for mental flexibility to help with physical fitness.
Stretch Your Brain
Just like your body, your brain needs to be stretched and challenged to be at its best. This means that you must consciously do things to push it outside its comfort zone. What do those exercises look like?
- Read More: Whether it is a novel for pleasure, a self-improvement book, or something business or work related, reading keeps your brain sharp, and absorbing information through the written word is a great way to stretch your brain.
- Write: Yes, writing things down, whatever it is, is also good for your brain. Emails don’t count, but a journal, content for your own blog, or other expressive writing does. If you can find a way to write on a regular basis, you will do a lot for stretching your brain.
- Play Games: Online puzzle games, chess, sudoku, crosswords, and other such games make your mind think in a different way, and it is stretched by competition with others or trying to improve yourself.
You have to work and stretch your brain just like you do your hamstrings. These are just a few ways to do so. Your brain will then be better suited to help your body with its fitness.
Expand Your Willpower
One of the key roles your brain plays in your physical fitness is willpower. Your brain helps you make choices between good and bad, even if what is bad for us is what we want more or may even be addicted to. Our willpower is limited though, and once it is used up, we have to recharge it or it is harder to make the right choices.
This is why it is so important to expand your willpower. This can be done a number of ways, including through exercise, the right diet, and even the mental practices listed above. The more capacity you have for willpower, the more endurance you will have for developing physical fitness.
Sometimes the difference between winning a race, finishing a ride or run, or even enduring through the end of a workout or an aerobics class comes down to determination as much or more than it comes down to physical fitness. This type of mental toughness comes from willpower, and it can be trained and expanded with some hard work on your part.
Expanding your willpower is a mental exercise that can result in great physical fitness too.
Make Strong Habits
Guess what else helps you with willpower? Good habits. Developing good habits and getting rid of bad ones, replacing inferior habits with good ones, and just setting yourself up with a successful routine is an important part of physical fitness, but is also offers you a mental advantage.
Yes, you can expand your willpower, but you can also reduce your dependence on it by developing good habits. For instance, if you get up and run at 5 a.m. for 60 days in a row, you will not only be in better shape, but getting up that early and running will also have become a habit. It will be harder to not get up and run than it will be to stick with your routine.
The same can be said for bad habits. If you eat sweets after 7 p.m., you know it is bad for you, but it can be a tough habit to break. However, if you get in the habit of having a glass of lemon water instead, soon the craving for the sweets will do away, and it won’t take a lot of willpower to skip the cake late in the evening.
Strong habits conserve willpower for areas where you need it most, and they also contribute to better physical fitness.
Empty Your Mind
Sometimes the best exercise for your mind is to empty it and simply focus on one simple thing or on nothing at all. This is where meditation comes in. You can do this a number of ways. There are guided meditation apps on your phone or you can even use virtual reality goggles to immerse yourself further.
There are even videos that help you with guided image meditation and other techniques. With practice you will be able to meditate almost anywhere, anytime. This ability can be a huge help to your physical fitness. With a few moments of meditation when you get to the gym, you can leave the cares of the day behind and focus on your workout and fitness.
Instead of grabbing that donut or cupcake, you can take a few minutes to meditate instead, focusing on the good that will come with self-control. The practice of meditation can make you mind more limber, but it will also have a huge impact on your physical fitness.
Mental flexibility is essential to your physical fitness routine, and you can get better at it. Consciously practice your mental exercises, and your will be better prepared to work out, endure through the tough time, and will even have more willpower to help you make the right choices.