If you’re working out, then you’re already on track to feeling better. Your brain benefits from it as well as your body: increased awareness, improved sleep and better mood.
However, outside the gym, there must be other ways to train your brain. Although it’s an organ, it works like a muscle — it needs exercise and parts can change or grow when used. Your habits create its shape and the paths it goes down day to day and no matter how hard you train it, there’s no DOMs the next day.
So, here are two ways to train your brain to feel better — because in the same way we want our bodies lean and muscular, we want our brains resilient and feeling good too.
A lot of people may think meditation is pretentious, or feel skeptical about its benefits — and that’s normal. It can take a long time to get it “right”, but it’s really not much more than this: breathing, stopping, and concentrating. Sitting there, on your own, with nothing in your head for ten minutes.
And that’s hard.
It’s the closest thing to squatting or deadlifting for your head. It’s like a full-body workout, but only on your brain. It puts your brain under mental strain because the monkey in your head just wants to dance. You’ll twitch. You’ll strain to sit there still. You might stop — and that’s okay because part of the process is learning to be okay with that.
You will feel the benefit, though. Increased mood, feelings of satisfaction, and just feeling relaxed.
So, learn more about meditating and do it daily, 3 times a week, once a week even, at different frequencies, or different intensities — it’s like reprogramming your brain. It depends on what you value and what works for you, but the most important thing is consistency, so give it a shot.
Writing your thoughts down
This is possibly the most simple but powerful thing you can do. Done daily, or even a few times a day, it can train you to think differently forever.
Your thoughts can make you feel bad. ‘This sucks, I’m weak, why is everything bad.’
It doesn’t have to be like that, tough. Dr David Burns, author of the Feeling Good Handbook, puts it simply. You can change your thoughts, and thoughts create your moods, so, from that, changing thoughts can change the way you feel.
He says a lot of our thoughts are distortions and not based in reality. We think the PT in our gym hates us, or everyone judges us for not being able to bench a plate yet, but really no one cares. We’re trying to read their minds and fill our own with things that aren’t true. Or, we fortune-tell and look into the future and say things like ‘this is going to go on forever, isn’t it?’ But it won’t.
So what can you do?
Write it down. Call it for what it is: a thought-distortion. And then write down a reasonable response which is both true and goes against the negative thought. Of course the PT doesn’t hate you—he doesn’t even know you.
Over time, after writing it down, your brain will begin to do this itself. You’ll have trained it to feel better.
It definitely feels weird to write down what you thought during the day. But, again, think of it like working out. This is a small proven thing that, like a workout, will train your brain to feel better. It works.
Take home message
Both of these are effective exercises that fit into a healthy routine to stay positive and motivated. It can be easy to get down, but remember: you can train yourself to feel better the same way you can train your body to. So, go and get your brain buff and improve your mental wellness.