We all know that health and wellbeing is important and we are lucky to live in a city with some of the most diverse opportunities to eat more healthily, move more and live well. We can do courses in everything from sleeping better to skiing in the city. This is all something we try to make the most of but it can also add to the already busy and stressful lives we lead, adding another ‘to do’ to an ever growing list. So perhaps what is missing from this offering are more ways to manage the overwhelming feeling of ‘too much to do’, the sense of ‘getting by’ as opposed to being inspired, motivated, energized and positive about life.
The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” yet how many of us look after all three areas of our lives in equal balance? There are many reasons we don’t do this but the main reason is that we simply don’t know how. The media floods our attention with ways to enhance physical fitness but we don’t even know what social fitness or mental fitness might look like, let alone know how to improve it.
To define mental fitness is not as tricky as it may seem. In the same way that physical fitness is about our bodies functioning at an optimal level to enable us to live a good life, mental fitness is about keeping our minds strong to perform effectively and efficiently, to think clearly and solve problems, to feel good about ourselves and our lives, to prevent illness and injury, and to live long, happy lives. It includes our motivation, our creativity, our sense of life satisfaction and our ability to cope with the challenges of modern life. Social fitness is similarly simple. It is our ability to understand others, to communicate well, to use our strengths to lead and support others, and our ability to add value to our communities.
Over the last 20 years a huge amount of research has been taking place to fully understand mental and social fitness more fully and to identify how we can enhance it. What it is particularly interesting is that the evidence has shown that when we invest time in improving these aspects wellbeing our vital organs function more effectively, our immunity improves, we are less susceptible to chronic pain, more likely to eat healthily and more motivated to be physically active. It has also shown that we are more likely to reach our personal, career and physical health goals.
So now we know we want it how can we start doing something about it? The best way to start is join an X-FIT FOR THE MIND class starting in January 2018. These are London’s first “mental fitness” classes to support your mental, social and physical wellbeing in one session. These practical sessions will not only boost your mood through the darker months but will enhance your motivation, productivity and communication skills. They will include some practical mindfulness techniques, tools to build stronger relationships, tips on nutrition, movement and much more. (There will be no physical ‘exercise’ so there is no lycra or special equipment required, just bring yourself, your mind and your motivation!)
Until then here are a few simple tricks to get you started before the new year. Let’s make 2018 a year of Optimal Wellbeing!
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS – Once a week commit to doing a kind deed for someone else with no expectations of a favour in return. This could be buying the person behind you in a queue their cup of coffee, stopping and talking to a homeless person or doing some extra household chores. Be creative and please share your ideas in the comments below.
MINDFUL WALKING – Make your daily commute more interesting by paying attention to what you are seeing. Look up at the buildings or trees around you, observe the faces of the people you pass, notice the sensations of your feet on the ground and the temperature of the air on your skin. Simply take an interest in all the details of life and your surroundings.
GRATITUDE – every night for a week spend a few moments writing down 3 things you are grateful for. It could be a good meal, a warm bed or a smile from a friend. If you make the effort to do this you will find that even in challenging times there is something that you have learnt, something that made you smile or something that brought a little respite from the madness of life.