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We live in an intense and fast-paced world, where quite regularly, we end up ignoring or parking our anxieties and worries to be dealt with at another time. It’s quite apparent that while physical fitness receives adequate attention, and rightfully so, mental health gets neglected, which may cause anxiety, depression, and self-doubt.
Mental well-being could be summarised as a positive sense of how we feel, think, and act. Nourishment, therefore, ought not to be just limited to our body, but also for our mind, and for that, we need a well-conceived mental diet plan. Following are three mental diet tips that you can incorporate to nourish and strengthen your mental well-being and cognitive health:
1. Thought control
Due to neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to form and reorganize nerve cell connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury) of the brain, the more we feed negative thoughts to our brain, the more likely they will surface and occur.
This happens because thoughts that evoke certain emotions, cluster together via neural pathways. Hence, every time we allow a negative thought to repeat, it strengthens. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the patterns that create difficult emotions and negative moods.
You can integrate techniques to regulate overwhelming emotions and thoughts as and when they arise. For instance, you can exercise or do breathing exercises. You can also resolve patterns that detract from your well-being by building new ones that contribute to mental fitness, such as following a routine, meeting friends, or playing a team sport.
2. Positive affirmations
A per research published by US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, positive affirmations are expressions that are repeated, often without thinking about it, used to introduce to the subconscious with a thought that can motivate you, remind you of your positive attributes and provide the confidence needed to accomplish goals.
It is important to select affirmations that are concise, and include visualization as you repeat your positive affirmations. Make sure they are also easy to remember. Affirmations should preferably be in the present tense. For example, if you are affirming your ability to win a race, imagine yourself crossing the finishing line while you say “I am a winner” or “I am crossing the finish line first.” Visualization provides a way to implant pictures in your subconscious that complement the words you say.
Meditation teaches its practitioners practice to focus on the present moment, breath by breath. It is described as a means of noticing what you feel in each moment–be it easy, difficult, painful, and/or joyful.
Meditation has been known to help individuals sleep better, cope with few symptoms associated with mental disorders like depression and anxiety, reduce psychological difficulties associated with chronic pain, and even improve cognitive and behavioural functions.
While there are multiple ways of meditating, one may simply choose to start by getting into a comfortable position (choose where and how you will sit), closing the eyes gently and putting the stream of thoughts aside (don’t ignore or suppress the thoughts, simply remain calm, note and acknowledge them, and then use breathing to bring you back to the present moment).
So follow these tips for great mental health and watch this space for more such content.