By Shaima Anis
Taking care of ourselves and being fit goes a long way in maintaining our health and also contributes to the happiness in our lives and our relationships. As the common saying goes, “health is wealth”; in fact our experiences in life show us that good health is really more precious than having lots of wealth. When one loses their health, that is when they realise its importance, but then that is too late. So let us learn more about fitness and ways to keep ourselves fit.
What is fitness?
Fitness is a general term that encompasses the physical, mental and physiological well being of a person. Women often tend to ignore themselves and focus solely on caring for their family members and their household. But it is essential to take care of one’s self in order to take care of others. For the purpose of this article, we shall be paying special attention to mental fitness. Physical fitness has been emphasized to a great extent but one’s emotional health is just as important. It is not possible to be completely fit when one has troubled thoughts or is nervous and anxious.
Importance of fitness
It is very important to remain fit and healthy. It is more likely for us to fulfil our duties and responsibilities well when we are fit. Also a healthy Muslim is better able to perform their obligatory duties, whereas an individual suffering from an illness might not be able to do so. Thus it is essential for us to remain fit and active. Also, since even our body is entrusted to us by Allah, we are obliged to take care of it.
I] Physical Fitness –
1. Diet. Our diet plays a major role in not only maintaining our health but also has an effect on our mood, which is a component of mental fitness. Thus, it is essential that we pay special attention to what we eat and drink. It is essential to keep ourselves hydrated by drinking enough water. Some food items tend to uplift our mood, such as bananas and nuts and certain fruits and green vegetables.
2. Rest. It is of utmost importance to ensure we have proper rest. The right amount of sleep is necessary for the repair of damaged tissues and for the body to rejuvenate. It also contributes to a healthy and active mind. Without rest, one does not feel fresh nor does the brain function properly without it, leading one to feel lazy and tired all the time. Lack of rest also wreaks havoc on a person’s thinking capacity. It affects the person’s memory as well. On average, a person should get a minimum of 6-8 hours of sleep everyday.
3. Exercise. Exercise is an effective strategy to improve overall health. It tends to increase the blood circulation to the different parts of the body and hence encourages the flow of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the brain and other vital organs. Maintaining a habit of exercising regularly is essential to promoting overall fitness. So to maintain a healthy body and mind, do not forget to exercise.
II] Mental Fitness –
The saying, “a healthy mind in a healthy body” is true. Taking care of one’s mental health also results in a better mood. One is also more alert and receptive to one’s surroundings when one is mentally fit. Below are some ways to maintain and promote mental fitness.
1. Being positive and optimistic. Look for the good in every situation. Everything in our life happens by the will of Allah and there is always wisdom behind it whether we recognise it or not. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to think positively. A little stress is sometimes good to get things done. However, too much stress affects our health in adverse ways. One of the ways to relieve stress is by the remembrance of Allah. “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace”. [Quran, 13:28]. Supplicating to Allah and then doing what we can to remedy a solution while leaving the rest to Allah is a way to reduce stress.
2. Focusing on one task. Although multi-tasking is possible for certain things, it is not possible for tasks that require greater concentration. By doing many things at once, our concentration tends to decrease. However, if we focus on one task at a given time, not only will we be able to finish it faster, but we would be able to complete the task more efficiently and effectively. This also helps us in building and improving our concentration power.
3. Memorizing the Quran.This is one of the ways to improve mental fitness.Memorising the Quran keeps the mind in a healthy state and prevents the brain cells from degenerating. The age-old rule is true, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. In fact memorising the Quran is one of the best ways to keep our minds active. Even though brain degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’ are commonly seen in the elderly, a Hafiz of the Quran is rarely seen to suffer from either of the two even in old age, SubhanAllah. (Reference:http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/article/S1552-5260(11)01981-9/fulltext )
4. Stimulating our minds. It is important to regularly stimulate our minds by trying out new things. Solving puzzles and performing certain mental exercises also help to keep the brain cells active. Other ways in which we can keep our minds in good condition is by learning new ways of doing things, by cultivating new hobbies, and by reading.
III]Emotional Health and Fitness –
1. Thinking well of others. Emotional well being contributes a lot to mental fitness. This includes thinking good about others and making excuses for their mistakes not for their sake, but ours.
2. Accepting instead of complaining. Some people start complaining of their situation instead of accepting it. All events in life happen by the Divine decree of Allah. It is incorrect to think, “if I had done so, this would not have happened,” or “Had I done that, such a thing wouldn’t have occurred”. What had to happen, happened, and no one could change it from occurring except Allah.
3. Being social. Interacting with people at various levels helps us to keep mentally fit. Having healthy discussions, not arguments, are good to keep one mentally alert and active.
So, from the above we can clearly see how essential it is to care of our physical, mental and emotional health for a more fulfilling and balanced lifestyle.