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7 Science-backed Techniques to Build Your Own Mental Gym

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People hit the gym, participate in sports, and seek out new ways to sculpt their bodies. However, an equally important aspect of wellness often takes a backseat – mental fitness. Just as we have gyms for physical strength, it’s crucial to build our own mental gym for cognitive health.

According to this research, employees who prioritize their mental well-being experienced a staggering 56% reduction in missed days due to health reasons. Not only that, they were 5 times more likely to be recognized as top performers compared to those facing mental health challenges. Moreover, their productivity soared by 25% and their engagement levels surged by an impressive 34%.

Mental strength embodies the power to effectively regulate our thoughts, navigate our emotions, and act productively in the face of challenges or adversity. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and profoundly influences our cognition, perception, and behavior.

To help you learn how to build your own mental gym, here are 5 scientifically proven techniques:

1. Practice gratitude:

Practicing gratitude is a powerful mental exercise that truly transforms your life. It’s about recognizing and appreciating the wonderful things that surround you. Whether it’s the simple joy of sipping your morning coffee or the profound love and support from someone dear to you, gratitude fills your heart with positivity.

For young professionals and entrepreneurs, this technique can be a game-changer. It’s not just about skills and knowledge; it’s about cultivating a positive mindset. Embracing gratitude fuels resilience and determination, empowering you to conquer challenges and setbacks with unwavering strength.

But that’s not all. Gratitude practice also enriches your relationships, which are crucial in today’s interconnected world. When you express gratitude, you deepen connections, build trust, and foster a collaborative environment. It’s the secret sauce to success in any professional or entrepreneurial journey.

Remember, gratitude is not just an action; it’s a way of life. The more you practice, the more your mind will effortlessly seek out the silver linings. You can make gratitude journaling a part of your daily routine, and watch as it transforms not only your mindset but also paves the way for a prosperous and fulfilling professional journey.

2. Write expressively

Expressive writing is not just a practice, it’s a profound journey of self-discovery. It’s about pouring your thoughts, emotions, and experiences onto paper without worrying about rules or correctness. It’s words that heal, according to James Pennebaker and John Evans.

For young professionals and entrepreneurs, this practice is a game-changer. It unlocks personal growth and professional development like nothing else. It clarifies your thoughts, brings fresh insights, and equips you with the wisdom to make better decisions. It fuels your leadership skills and enhances your relationships with others.

Embrace expressive writing to uncover your deepest thoughts, motivations, and aspirations. Spend just 20 minutes daily creatively jotting down your ideas. It will help you navigate professional challenges and stay connected to your mission. Grammar and sentence structure aside, let your soul speak!

Out of desperation to find the perfect journal, I created my own all-in-one journal to include sections for gratitude journaling, daily planning, and freestyle expressive writing. So pick up that pen and embark on this transformative adventure.

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3. Learn something new:

Engaging in activities that stimulate the brain is another avenue for building mental strength. Learning something new or teaching others not only provides intellectual stimulation but also fosters a sense of accomplishment and personal growth.

Read a book on a topic that interests you, listen to an insightful podcast episode, or enroll in an engaging online course to expand your knowledge and broaden your horizons.

Teach someone else what you’ve learned, whether it’s through a discussion, presentation, or even creating a tutorial, as this not only enhances your own comprehension and recall but also helps solidify the information in your memory. Sharing your knowledge with others can be a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience.

For young professionals and entrepreneurs, this continuous learning can be a key driver of success. It allows them to stay current with industry trends, gain a competitive edge, and bring fresh ideas to their roles or business ventures. It also promotes adaptability, a crucial trait in today’s dynamic professional landscape.

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4. Get creative:

Engaging in creative activities such as music, drawing, or arts and crafts can not only stimulate your brain but also enhance your emotional resilience, allowing you to better navigate life’s challenges.

If you’re looking for a fun and inspiring way to incorporate creativity into your daily routine, consider trying one creative activity per day for a year with the delightful book “365 Days of Art” by Lorna Scobie. With its diverse range of prompts and ideas, this book will keep your creative juices flowing and help you discover new artistic horizons.

As a young professional or entrepreneur, embracing creative activities can be a game changer on the road to success. Engaging in creative activities allows you to tap into a deep well of original ideas, setting you and your business apart. Moreover, they sharpen your problem-solving skills, enabling you to find unique and effective solutions to business challenges. Ultimately, they foster resilience – an essential trait for navigating the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

5. Take a break:

Breaks, although seemingly counterproductive, are a vital tool for success. The constant grind can often lead to mental fatigue, decreased productivity, and burnout.

Taking short breaks throughout the day has been shown to improve memory retention and cognitive function. It allows your brain to recharge and process information more efficiently. By intentionally incorporating short breaks into your workflow, you give your mind the necessary time to refresh and revitalize and promote more efficient deep work.

Adequate sleep allows the brain to recharge and consolidate memories while supporting cognitive function. Most young professionals may find 7-8 hours of sleep to be ideal. Sufficient sleep promotes better concentration, mood, and overall cognitive performance.

6. Meditate

Meditation is a potent tool for success, enabling young professionals and entrepreneurs to cultivate a calm and focused mind. It involves a variety of techniques, such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity, to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.

Regular meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are often high in professional and entrepreneurial roles. This, in turn, can lead to better decision-making and improved interpersonal relations. Moreover, meditation enhances self-awareness, providing insights into thought patterns and emotional responses. It fosters a growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence – crucial traits for navigating the business world.

If you are like me, you would find it extremely hard to meditate in complete silence at first. I personally found that Declutter the Mind has helped me tremendously with guided meditation for anxiety, sleep, and more.

7. Train your brain

Brain training involves activities designed to enhance cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, problem-solving skills, mental speed, and attention. It’s akin to physical training. Just as you would exercise to strengthen your body, brain training exercises help to strengthen your mental muscle, forming new neural pathways and improving your cognitive flexibility.

For young professionals and entrepreneurs, brain training can unlock greater success in business ventures in three ways.

  • Enhanced memory and concentration improve productivity, enabling better task management.
  • Improved problem-solving skills and mental processing speed aid in tackling challenges and finding innovative solutions.
  • A focused attention span helps entrepreneurs stay committed to goals, cutting through distractions and maintaining a consistent work ethic.

Consider using brain training apps like Brain IQ or Peak for daily mental workouts. Alternatively, traditional methods such as puzzles, reading, learning a new language or instrument, or simply creating a daily list of priorities can also stimulate brain activity by improving recall. Remember, consistency is key in brain training – the more time you invest, the better your brain becomes.

In conclusion, fostering your mental health and cognitive performance is pivotal for professionals and entrepreneurs alike. From incorporating mindfulness practices to engaging in regular brain training, these steps can significantly enhance mental agility, productivity, and resilience.

Remember, the path to a well-tuned mind involves consistency and commitment. As you embark on or continue your journey in the professional or entrepreneurial world, prioritize your cognitive health just as much as your business objectives. Embrace these practices, and you’ll be well-equipped to be in the 1%.

Publisher: Natalie Glass

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