If you’re a regular fitness enthusiast then answering questions such as:
- When was the last time you did core work?
- When was your last cardio session?
- When was the last time you did squats or push-ups?
…Would likely be pretty simple to answer.
I did all of the above yesterday. Did some planks, had a killer track workout with some pretty awesome ladies (her and her of course), did some squats and some push-ups in a workout I filmed for our upcoming project.
But what if I asked you:
- When was the last time you worked your mental muscles?
One of the reasons we are pleagued with “oldstimers” as my family calls it, isn’t because of age… it’s because as we age, we forget to work our mental muscles.
What’s the saying?
“If you don’t use it, you lose it?”
Well, this goes beyond having a muscular, round butt or nice, toned shoulders.
We all want to be the best we can be, yet if our mind isn’t sharp, if we’re not mentally strong, then what’s the point of being able to do 50 nonstop push-ups or burpees?
I’ve learned that if I get lazy in one area of my life, other areas are sure to suffer as well. I am 100% a believer that to be my best physically, I have to be mentally strong as well.
How do you exercise your mental muscles?
There are several ways, and I urge you to choose 1-2 of them to do each and ever day.
You refuse to miss your planned workout, it’s a priority, right?
Make your mental workouts a priority too… perhaps even more so than your sweat sessions.
The Best Mental Workouts
-Leave the earbuds at home.
For some reason we are afraid to be by ourselves.
What’s the first thing that so many of us do when we leave the house? Put in our headphones and listen to… something.
Anything to take our mind off things going on in life. And while this is okay sometimes (hello, audiobooks), sometimes it’s far better to deal with what you have going on.
I think that headphones makes it far too easy to run away from our problems and put them on the back burner instead of just taking time to think about current situations and figure them out.
At least once a week, I leave my headphones in my car and I go out for a run sans-technology.
Forget pace, forget calls, forget music, and instead enjoy the time to reflect. I won’t lie, it felt strange at first and I was worried I wouldn’t make it a mile before giving up. But oddly enough, that first mile came, mile 2 came and suddenly 6 miles were completed.
What’s going right in life? What’s not going right, and what can you do about it?
The bottom line… stop avoiding conflict and think about it. Become a problem solver.
-Read every single day.
It doesn’t have to be a motivational book by Tony Robbins, pick up any book that keeps you interested. Personally, I love going between self-improvement books and fun “no-thinking” books. And yes, audio books are great options.
I rely on my audio books to get me through long runs, and traffic. Try it just for a week and see how much better you feel after listening to a great book rather than the annoying radio station.
I just finished Choose Yourself by James Altucher… great book!
Just about every other day, Dan and I take a 20 minute naps. 20 minutes is just the perfect amount of time to feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… but I work at an office.
Even when I had an office job, I would down my lunch quickly so that I could close my office door, turn off the lights and relax for 15-20 minutes.
Doing this is going to help reset your brain, wake you up and at the end of the day you’ll see your productivity had increased.
Just like daycare, I think a 20 minute nap time should be a requirement.
-Write just to write.
Pull out a pad and sit down for 10-15 minutes and write. You can write anything you want. Write about your day, write 10 ideas you have for upcoming projects, write 20 things you’re thankful for, write out blog post ideas, write a diary entry, or write a fictional short story.
The possibilities are endless, but this 10 minutes of creativity will help strengthen your creativity muscles and let’s face it… who knows what can happen.
Plus, there is just something wonderful about writing with pen and paper, yet because of technology we forget that.
-Play around more.
Play games that require some thinking! Puzzles, suduku, chess, even video games are shows to help keep the brain cells firing away.
After a few hours of work, set a timer for 10 minutes and play something. Once the timer goes off, put it away and get back to work.
Those 10 minutes offer a mental break from work while still keeping your brain thinking… it’s like an active rest during a workout!
Here’s a suduku to get you started (I love suduku)
-Do nothing for 7 hours, at least.
I know I always complain about how little sleep I get. I’m not perfect.
Your brain and body work so hard for you during the day, sleep is crucial to efficient thinking during the day.
Concentration, memory, alertness, and productivity will all go up with the more sleep you get. A recent book I listened to by Grant Cardone (If You’re Not First, You’re Last) explains that to plan your day, the very first thing you should schedule is your sleep. What time do you go to bed? What time do you plan on waking up?
I think we’ve gotten into a society where we are almost looked down upon if we get more than 7 hours of shuteye each night. It’s like you’re “bigger and better” if you can run off less sleep.
Forget that… America isn’t run off Dunkin Donuts, it’s run off sleep. Get at least 7 hours a night. Really work to make it happen!
I couldn’t leave this off!
Exercise and mental strength do go hand in hand. It’s why I believe that to be good at one, you have to be good at the other.
Continue to stick with a regular workout program, one that you enjoy and one that easily fits your schedule.
If it’s possible, workout first thing in the morning to help wake your body (and mind) up for the day ahead. If that isn’t going to happen, no big deal.
The best time to workout is when working out works for you (got that?).
Do you consciously make an effort to keep your mind strong? How??