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Editorial / Health & Wellbeing

Sustaining Mental Fitness: Going Beyond January’s Burst of Motivation

With research revealing that only 9% of Americans who make resolutions complete them, and 23% of people quit their New Year’s resolutions by the end of the first week followed by 43% quitting by the end of January, it’s hardly surprising people are searching for ways to maintain their mental fitness practices beyond January.

How can this be done?

Set small, achievable and specific goals for mental fitness practices, such as meditating for 5-10 minutes daily. If you are spending less time per day on something, you’re more likely to do it for longer, in turn creating a sustainable habit. Something that takes only 5-10 minutes means you won’t have to sacrifice anything for it, giving yourself little to no excuse for skipping it one day. 

What are examples of mental fitness?

Mental fitness can easily be brought into a daily routine. Ways this can be done through activities such as a few minutes of mindful attention to the present moment during your morning coffee, such as what we practice in Balance’s Morning Brew meditation. If that meditation isn’t for you, the Balance app is home to a variety of others, ranging from dream scenes to forgiveness. Unknown to many, meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting in a compromising position in a gym, it can be done simply by listening to certain audio tracks and following a few breathing exercises. It can be done on your way to work, on your lunch break, or on an airplane.

Meditating every day can help you maintain consistency because you’re integrating practices into your everyday life. Not only this, but it makes everyday mundane things feel even better. 

How can I ensure I don’t give up?

It can be helpful to keep a journal to track your progress and insights. Reflecting on the benefits you’ve been experiencing from practicing mental fitness will reinforce the value of these practices. Forcing yourself to focus on the “WHY” behind your actions will motivate you much longer into the future when the original burst of holiday new year energy subsides. 

Find a community, friend or accountability partner that can either do the practices alongside you or simply check in with you on your commitment, and give you encouragement and support. Alone we can go far, but together we can go much further. 

Is it normal to want to give up?

Adopt the mindset that practicing mental fitness is a journey, not a destination. Be patient and kind to yourself when motivation wanes, and it will at least once. Balance this kindness with commitment and muster the dedication to show up and do the practices even on the days when you feel less than enthusiastic. You will always thank yourself for the benefits you receive from it. 

What if I am motivated but I can’t enjoy it?

If a particular practice isn’t working for you, check in with a coach. It may be time for you to try different types of meditation or mindfulness exercises. It’s good for people to have 3-4 different practices in their personal tool kit that serve different purposes depending on specific needs that day. Some days you may feel low energy and need a pick me up, other days you may need to calm your nervous system down. Some days you may need more focus to combat overwhelm, while other times you may need something to help you release resentment or grief. Keep experimenting until you find the practices that seem effective for you and your particular needs. This way you can keep your routine engaging and prevent it from becoming monotonous.

About Author

Leah Santa Cruz is one of Balance's Co-Heads of Meditation. Leah is also a seasoned yoga teacher who excels in helping individuals improve their productivity, energy, sense of balance, and well-being. Having taught more than 5,000 meditation classes around the world, Leah brings a touch of healing into her teachings as she combines ancient techniques with modern science, offering practical tools to help busy people find relief from anxiety and burnout. Leah believes that we can transform the mind from a perceived obstacle into a powerful ally.