By Polly Keary, Editor
Of all the kinds of fitness one might pursue, mental fitness is arguably the most important, but also the most underrated.
This time of year, many people vow to improve their health or strength in the coming year. But without good mental health, including the optimism, energy and self-esteem to see it through, such efforts are likely to be less successful.
But developing good mental wellness practices can help you keep on track all year, whether it is stress, work, or sheer busyness that drags you off course.
And just like developing good physical fitness, results can be had with regular exercises.
“One thing I like to suggest to clients is what I call the blue dot special,’” said Zandra Zimmerman, a Monroe counselor at Mountain View Wellness Center. “I have them get some small adhesive dots like folks use for marking yard sale prices, only smaller. Then they put those dots where ever they pause, such as across from the toilet seat, on the window above the kitchen sink, on the bathroom mirror, on the car steering wheel, on the computer screen, etc. Then, whenever they see the dot, they can stop and repeat/focus on whatever mantra/reminder/positive self statement they are currently trying to develop/strengthen.”
When a client’s focus improves, the dots still act as a reminder to “pay attention with intention” to the new belief and/or behavior being worked on, she said.
Zimmerman also reminds people that thoughts matter.
“Every thought is followed by a molecule,” she said. “We cannot take the picture of a thought, but we have cameras that are able to take an actual photograph of the energy trail a thought produces. Brains are computers.”
Remember the rule of garbage in/garbage out, she said.
“Pay attention to your self-talk,” said Zimmerman. “Develop and strengthen your ‘internal compassionate observer’ who often has little or no voice after the ‘internal critical parent’ gets done with us.”
And finally, Zimmerman said, be honest with yourself.
“Positive affirmations that you do not believe are pointless,” she said. “If you say, ‘I love myself,’ but don’t really believe it, no amount of repetitions will change your self-acceptance. If you do not believe what you are saying, back it up until you can make a statement that feels true, like, ‘I am learning to love myself,’ or, backing up further yet, ‘I want to want to love myself.’”