There’s a reason why the human brain is at the top of our head. It’s as if the universe is trying to imply that people should make it a priority to care for their heads – not to mention what’s inside of it. Not only does the extraordinary human brain separate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom, it also functions in ways we can barely imagine.
This is the reason why it’s imperative that people take care of their mental health, as well as to provide the necessary aspects for keeping your brain strong.
Various activities can result in improved mental health. Exercising one’s mind through crosswords and chess can actually make the brain function better. Exposing the brain to calculations and logical problems exercises its analytical side. Also, the creative side of the brain is trained by exposing the mind to abstract and reasoning problems, doing puzzles and making music, to name just a few things. Overall, continuous use of the brain in these types of activities helps to keep it sharp and ready, which is one of the primary facets of a healthy brain.
On the other hand, the archenemy of good mental health is stress. Truly, one of the most arduous and challenging task that a person could ever hope to overcome is the ability to handle stress – and for very good reasons.
Not only does stress affect people mentally, it has also been proven to creep its way into the physical realm of human beings. This is where learning to simply relax plays a major role. Relaxation induced by nature helps to achieve a calm mind and therefore helps the brain to recover from stress. It also relieves the mind from pressures incurred during especially demanding times.
There is no beating a day sitting in your car, feeling the plush Shear Comfort-covered seats, and driving away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Now that’s some R and R.
Considering all of this, relaxation does come from a variety of sources. One of which is by doing physical activities. Yes, physical activity can actually make the brain function better. Stimulating the body through physical activities can provide the same assistance to the brain to become as active as it is when doing mental exercise. This is due to the fact that the most powerful brain boosters are actions which incorporate both aerobic activity and coordination. Physical activities, like sports, essentially improve one’s mood, improve concentration, AND mend bad sleeping habits. This bridges the physical and perceptual aspects that make up a person’s overall mental health.
But really, what are these physical activities that a person can do to have good mental health? Here are some exercises the brain can actually benefit from:
Play Ping-pong, Be Headstrong
Table tennis, more commonly known as ping-pong, is one of the most competitive sports when it comes to speed and agility. People who play the game are actually more coordinated with their hands and eyes, not to mention their balance – which they need to hit that speeding ball across the table. What most people don’t realize is that it is a sport that transcends others when it comes to benefits in mental health.
One of the primary functions of the brain is to control body movements by way of nerve stimulation. Since practicing this sport tends to work on the coordination of the body, the brain is quicker to react to visual stimuli as well as to muscle memory.
Additionally, the game stimulates several parts of the brain. A key element to the sport is anticipation of the shot of the other person across the table. Technically speaking, a player utilizes the prefrontal cortex for the strategic planning he needs to hit the ball back. In turn, the hippocampus, the part which is accountable for humans forming and remembering long-term memory and events, is stimulated from the aerobic exercise done in this activity.
In addition, ping-pong also helps developmental acuity. In the sport, it is vital for a player to observe the movement and placement of the ball as it hits the table, as well as the way it spins. Experienced players of this sport would have unwittingly developed skills in creating and solving puzzles involving the above-mentioned elements.
Mental Health: Cha-Cha-Challenge Accepted!
Another great way to exercise both physically and mentally is dancing.
Dancing is a perfect concoction of slick moves and good memory. In dancing, a persons mind has to remember certain moves or sets of moves that need to be performed in succession. Logically speaking, this can be a good exercise for memory-retention and of course a good cardio workout for the human body.
Though dancing is mostly considered a physical exercise, it encompasses more than just bodily health. Researchers have actually found that going out to dance can significantly improve the emotional state of a person. This is imperative for people who undergo stress regularly, and even more so for people who might suffer from depression.
More importantly, however, dancing provides a social setting in which a person can interact with many types of people. Again, one important thing for stressed people is to have other people to mingle with. This eliminates the element of having negative emotions – which most of these type of people might actually incur.
Overall, dancing not only proves to be a good way to slim down, it also uplifts a person’s mood and provides a pathway to socialize. It’s safe to say that the lesser the stress, the lesser the cha-cha-chances of mental illnesses (Okay, done with the puns now, I promise).
Fight Right, Mind’s Might
Most people would probably be surprised to learn that martial arts can effectively boost the mind.
Yes, studying the art of fighting proves to be the more exciting and explosive equivalent of the usual Sunday night chess game. This comes with good reasons, considering that martial arts disciplines not only ones muscles, but more meaningfully, the mental fortitude of a fighter or a student.
This has been proven by a wide array of research concluding that martial arts induces a sense of self-esteem for a fighter, including some behavioral changes due to the extreme control which it teaches.
Speaking of control, the study of the art improves one’s self-regulation in daily living – which is a main influence of the willpower taught in most martial art types.
With regard to one’s personality, it has also been proven that fighters or participants of martial arts are more driven to achieve perfection in everything they do, as well as lessened aggression to other people. This comes as a result of how martial arts are taught – a type of self-defense to be used only when necessary.
Mental health is irreplaceable in attaining excellent overall health. This adds more importance on training the mind to be stable, and can be one of the most arduous tasks to handle. Plus, most methods can be quite tedious and uninteresting. However, several activities prove that mental health can still be attained and maintained in a more exciting way.
These novel approaches have evolved to provide ample exercise for the mind. Practicing the sport of ping-pong, dancing, and studying martial arts can be beneficial to both physical and mental health. In addition, what they really bring to the table is their ability to sharpen the mind.