By Rodney Long, Jr., MSSA, LSW
Everyone wants to feel good. That’s why we work out. We want our bodies to look and feel good. If you eat right and work out, you’re going to look and feel better. You can implement the same principles with your mental health. By “working out” your mind, you’ll begin to think, feel, and act in a way that matches how your body feels when you are eating healthy and working out. Here are some suggestions for ways to keep your mind active, no matter what your age.
- Read something – The self-help genre is full of books promising to help you figure out how to be happy and grow as a person. When people say they don’t like to read, I think it’s just because they haven’t found what they like to read yet. Whether you read a book, article, or newspaper, find something that you like to read. Not only will you learn something, but you take time for personal growth and development which is a vital part of working out your mental health muscles. One of my favorites is ENOUGH, dammitby Karen Salmansohn.
- Watch a YouTube video – If you don’t like to read, watch something. As fun as it is to watch celebrity gossip videos, a TED Talk, instructional video, or Crash Course video can help you learn a lot in a short amount of time.
- Listen to a podcast or audiobook – Let’s say that you’re not much of a reader and don’t spend much time watching YouTube, how about trying a podcast or audiobook? I often listen to books while I mow the grass, ride my bike, or am eating lunch. Podcasts are great when you can’t devote all your attention to a topic, but are interested in learning about something. Try Krista Tippett’s On Beingpodcast or Discovery Channel’s Stuff You Should Knowto find interesting takes and information about things you’re probably already thinking about.
- Talk to people – I think online communities are great. Facebook, Twitter, IG, are all great ways to have “community.” I think it’s awesome how we’ve been able to connect with people online. But I think we’ve lost our ability to connect with people face to face. Join a gym, join a club, or check out a local Meet Up group. Attend one of the free concerts put on this summer. Join a group bike ride. Go out and talk to people. I think you’ll quickly remember how easy it is to make friends just like we did in the good old days.
- Go do something you’ve never done before – If you really want to challenge yourself and work out your mental health muscles, go do something you’ve never done before. Whoa. That’s scary. Get outside of my comfort zone? No thank you. But at some point in life, you’ll have to. We like to stay in our little bubble, but growing as a person takes doing some things you may not have thought you would.
Working out your body is simple for many. Get moving and don’t eat terribly. It seems simple, but can often be difficult to follow through with. Working out your mind is a little different. We don’t look at mental health the same as we do physical health. Working out your mind seems like a foreign concept, but just like your physical health needs to be addressed, so does your mental health. These are just a few ways to “work out” your mind, but the possibilities are endless.
Work Out Your Mind