How to improve your mental fitness

You probably know how to get your body in shape, right? Work out consistently. Eat (relatively) clean. Rest well and recover. However, as more and more people are realizing, physical fitness is only half the equation.

The term “mental fitness” refers to the state of positive well-being produced by maintaining overall health of both the brain and emotions. In other words, train how you think, feel, and act, just like your biceps and quads. But you can’t see your mind the same way you can see your muscles, says Karl Olson, his performance coach, certified mental health coach.

“It’s much harder to see what’s going on between someone’s ears than it is to see what’s going on in their physiology,” explains the former Penn State University assistant athletic director of performance psychology. “You have to really understand yourself. Then you have to understand how to manage yourself in different environments. This is often unique to the individual.”

“You have to really understand yourself and then find a way to manage yourself.”

A self-assessment like this might feel more intimidating than a maximum of 1 bench press, but mental fitness plays a central role in today’s world. Nearly four in five Americans (78%) cite mental and emotional well-being as inspiration for exercise, according to a survey by Mintel, a global market intelligence agency. slightly higher than average happiness (76%). Additionally, a recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association showed that a quarter of her Americans made a New Year’s resolution to improve their mental health this year.

Thankfully, there are many resources available to enhance this area. Here, we briefly describe his three approaches to mental fitness, followed by Olson’s thoughts and feedback based on our own experience.

guided by voice


Thanks to advances in telemedicine, app development, and mental health awareness, mobile phones can be the perfect brain trainers. Calm ($70 a year), Headspace ($70 a year), Breethe ($89 a year) and many other mindfulness, sleep management and guided meditation apps help people rest, recover and rejuvenate their brains. We have proven its effectiveness.

expert take

“People talk a lot about stress management,” says Allson. “I prefer to talk about energy management because a lot of stress is not automatically bad. Good, but some apps are good at it.”

field notes

I have relied on Calm to facilitate my meditation schedule. We enjoy the ease of finding the right state of mind through the app’s guided service. However, we do not recommend the app for dealing with serious mental health conditions that are best treated with the help of a trained professional.

your brain against drugs


Whether it’s training for a new deadlift PR or training for a more intuitive mindset, the supplement industry has the answer. “Smart drugs” such as Onnit’s Alpha Brain lineup ($35+) and Thesis Nootropic Formulas ($119 for a month) improve memory, focus, creativity, intelligence and motivation. claims to let However, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and in this case they target sensitive structures in the brain, so extra care must be taken.

expert take

He doesn’t necessarily embrace nootropics, but he respects the connection between nutrients and the brain. “If I’m on his team, his performance in sports, and I have colleagues there who are nutrition experts, I realize there’s a reason for that,” he says. “Nutrition must have these other effects on an individual’s health and well-being.” Science backs him up.A review of his 21 studies from 10 countries published in psychiatric research A healthy eating pattern, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other items, was found to be associated with a lower risk of depression. Food is the same that protects the heart and blood vessels.” Green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, tea, coffee, and walnuts.

field notes

I tried Onnit’s Alpha Brain product and felt a lift after the learning curve. However, I experienced similar results with a simple meal switch. So, before you buy a bottle, try adding some of the aforementioned foods to your diet to reap the same benefits without the added uncertainty and expense. Please check whether


flex the muscles of the mind


With the variables that make up mental fitness, getting closer to the right training plan can seem daunting. But training mentally is far less of a hassle than training physically, and apps like Lumosity ($48 a year) and Elevate ($40 a year) are growing in popularity to help you unplug and stay healthy. It promotes puzzles, quizzes, and challenges as a quick, discreet way to focus on. A 2018 study published in , shows that these fun tasks work on both sides of the brain, improving concentration, short-term memory, and attention. Medical science monitor basic research.

expert take

Ohlson says that puzzle-based brain games, along with other modalities, have many potential health benefits. “They have the effect of reversing the stress response and help boost the immune system,” he says in his words of advice. It doesn’t really matter what the activity is. It’s about your philosophy of action.

field notes

I use Lumosity on a daily basis and the gaming aspect has proven to be a great way to stay focused and be in the moment. 10 Minutes for Cognitive Training You can always find time for Especially when that workout can fit in the palm of your hand.

Gear Patrol Magazine Issue 19 Spotlight

A version of this story appears in Gear Patrol Magazine. subscribe today

Matthew Stacy

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