36 Ways To Work On Your Mental Fitness Every Day

You probably hit up the gym or do Yoga with Adriene to keep up with your physical fitness, but what about your mental fitness? Getting into a positive headspace where you feel good about yourself and your life is not only vital for your overall well-being, but it has a seriously positive knock-on effect on anything and everything else in your life.

Those who have mental fitness are more likely to be better equipped to handle stress or adapt to change, as well as maintain healthier relationships with other people. In other words, it’s a skill well worth mastering.

Need a boost? Here are some things to do that can help.

  1. Get your butt out of bed early. There’s no sense lazing about all day and sleeping ’til noon. Studies have consistently shown that early risers are more productive and that they’re happier and healthier. Set your alarm and get up.
  2. Do at least 5 minutes of morning meditations. You can do this via an app like Calm if you prefer guided meditation or simply give yourself a few minutes of calm in which to collect your thoughts.
  3. Keep a gratitude journal. Some days you’ll have to dig really deep to find things to be thankful for, but once you do, you’ll see just how good you have it.
  4. Practice mindful breathing. Your breath controls everything. It can regulate your heart rate, reduce stress, and restore a sense of equilibrium. Focus on taking slow, complete breaths in and out to bring yourself back to center and clear your mind.
  5. Eat a balanced diet. Yes, what you eat affects your mental fitness. Leafy greens, lean proteins, nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit all have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will keep your brain working at its peak.
  6. Stay hydrated. Put down the iced coffee and grab your water. Treat yourself to one of those Stanley cups TikTok is nuts about, if you must. Dehydration can lead to headaches, tiredness, brain fog, and more. So, just make sure you’re drinking enough to keep your body (and brain) functioning well.
  7. Try not to eat too much sugar. Yes, Skittles are delicious and you can’t eat french fries without a huge mound of ketchup, but consistently high blood sugar levels lead to brain shrinking and lower cognitive function. For the sake of your physical and mental fitness, cut back.
  8. Start drinking green tea. A 2017 study suggested that regularly drinking green tea can boost brain function. Combined with its myriad other health benefits, it’s worth adding to your diet (and yes, it counts towards that hydration goal!).
  9. Get off the couch and exercise. The idea of getting sweaty and panting for 30 minutes a day may not seem inviting, but it pays dividends to your overall sense of health and well-being. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity and you’ll be in good stead.
  10. Stretch daily. Even for 10 minutes! Not only does nurturing your body in this way keep you from getting sore, tight muscles, but it also gives you an opportunity to re-center yourself, which has a positive effect on your mental fitness.
  11. Take some walks out in nature. Getting out of the house and around some trees, fields, and other bits of nature will make you feel like a million bucks. The benefits are lengthy, so make it a priority.
  12. Start doing crosswords, sudoku, or other puzzles. You’ll feel like you belong in MENSA the first time you complete the New York Times crossword puzzle without turning on autocheck.
  13. Learn a new language. Always wanted to learn French? Download an app like Duolingo or Busuu and get started. By the time you go on your next vacation, you’ll know exactly how to ask for your croissant and cafe au creme.
  14. Read whatever you can get your hands on. It goes without saying that the more you read, the more you’re exposed to different ways of thinking and existing. It expands your worldview and can change the way your brain is wired.
  15. Take up a creative hobby. Whether you’re really into writing poetry or you’ve always wanted to try sculpting, creative expression is a vital part of mental fitness. Don’t neglect it.
  16. Spend some time for face-to-face socializing. We live our lives through our phones, but doing so makes us miss out on all the benefits of in-person socialization. The next time you text a friend, ask to meet up!
  17. Brush up on your active listening skills. It’s not enough to listen — you need to actually hear what the other person is saying. Stay in the moment, offer your full attention, and offer feedback or advice, where warranted.
  18. Volunteer somewhere your help would come in handy. Regardless of how tough life is sometimes, you still have it good. Going out of your way to help those in need shifts your mindset and makes you realize how fortunate you are.
  19. Eat mindfully. When you sit down to eat a meal, take slow bites and chew your food completely before swallowing. Think about where your food came from and how it got to your plate.
  20. Learn how to network. This is a skill that will boost your mental fitness every time you do it! Making professional connections requires you to be adept at walking the walk AND talking the talk.
  21. Try out progressive relaxation. Never heard of it? That’s okay. Progressive relaxation is a way to destress and reduce anxiety by calming the mind and the muscles. It’s well worth trying.
  22. Attend therapy or counseling. Even if you don’t feel like you have much to talk about, you’d be surprised how the tools professional therapists have can help you dive deep into your own mind and discover new things.
  23. Use positive affirmations. When trying to boost mental fitness, these affirmations can keep you in a good headspace and allow you to maintain a general attitude of optimism.
  24. Laugh more. Laughter isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the mind, too. It increases all kinds of feel-good hormones that will make you feel on top of the world.
  25. Practice good sleep hygiene. Go to bed at a decent hour, cut yourself off from screens at least an hour or two before bed, and make sure the room and bed are comfortable. Good sleep is conducive to good brain power.
  26. Express your thoughts, opinions, and feelings regularly. Suppressing or hiding your feelings is not good for mental fitness. Be open, honest, and expressive to stay in a good headspace.
  27. Limit your screen time. Staring at your phone for hours, mindlessly scrolling through social media is killing your ability to think clearly. Put it down sometimes and walk away.
  28. Relax before bed. At the end of a long, busy day at work, school, etc. it’s imperative that you unwind and relax. This is also vital for good sleep hygiene.
  29. Develop a new skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Maybe you’ve always wanted to know how to fix cars or install new lighting fixtures in your house. Doing so rewires the pathways in your brain every time, so go for it.
  30. Take online courses on a topic that interests you. Similar to the above, there are plenty of free online courses that will expand your intelligence and provide intellectual fulfillment.
  31. Listen to educational podcasts. The topic is up to you — whatever you find thought-provoking is generally a good choice.
  32. Attend workshops and seminars to open your mind. If online classes aren’t your thing and you prefer something more dynamic, you might consider signing up for a seminar or workshop. You’ll come away having learned a lot!
  33. Take time for self-reflection. Mental fitness requires checking in with yourself often to assess where you’re at and where you’d like to go. Make this a priority.
  34. Set goals, both short and long-term. No matter how on top of the world you might feel now, there are always higher peaks to which you can climb. Never stop striving.
  35. Keep a journal. This is mental fitness 101 but well worth saying. If writing isn’t your thing, why not try audio journaling?
  36. Do a mental review at the end of every day. This is another way to check in with yourself and see how your day went (and how you’d like tomorrow to be different).
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill