Fitness is often only thought of as physical health. We talk about cardiovascular exercise, weightlifting, circuit training, etc, but often neglect the true foundation of fitness: mental health.

If you are finding it difficult to commit to your exercise program, or can’t quite begin one, you should look under the hood. It’s like driving a car. If the car can’t start or run like it should, it might be something going on with the parts you can’t see.

The same holds true with exercise. It takes a disciplined, mentally mature person to commit to healthy lifestyle changes over the long-term. Therefore, when you exercise physically, make sure you tune up the aspects of  your overall health and fitness that you can’t physically see. Try these tips to keep your spirit as fit as your body:

1. Relieve the pressure.
When exercising, give yourself a chance to unwind mentally. Of course, focus on proper technique, proper breathing during your workout, etc. But, force yourself to release whatever stress has built up during your day through your workout. Use your stress as energy to workout a bit harder!

2. Put your thoughts on pause. Work out your stress, but relax between sets. Not only should you relax your body and catch your breath, but silence the voice in your head for a few minutes. Focus on your breathing, focus on the burn, but keep your mind clear. Do not think about plans for tomorrow, what you are cooking for dinner or your chores. Stop thinking for those few minutes and relieve the pressure when you start your next set.

3. Spend a few minutes after your workout to pray, meditate or contemplate. Sit on your floor mat, couch, or just lay on the floor for a few minutes and appreciate life and the recent contribution you just made to your health. Again, work to avoid the temptation to think! Be thankful for your health and promise to yourself that you will do whatever it takes to maintain and improve the gift of life.