What is mental fitness?
Mental fitness isn’t a unicorn state that only highly successful people can achieve.
In fact, the great news is that anyone can develop mental fitness. This is providing they have access to a supportive environment, the right information and they’re persistent. Being supported by a qualified, highly skilled, professional that you trust can seriously accelerate the process.
To develop and maintain mental fitness requires that you approach your mental wellbeing like your physical wellbeing. This involves that you’re constantly learning and practicing evidence-based mental fitness strategies, that work for you. Keeping your emotional health in tip-top shape is the prize and will ensure you enjoy greater life satisfaction.
This is all good, however when we shave this back what is actually at the foundations of living mentally fit?
The foundations of mental fitness
Your brain doesn’t function in isolation. Therefore, before you dive into any attempt to improve your mental fitness it’s crucial that you take the time to understand how the brain co-exists with your spinal chord and organs, as a element of your nervous system.
Why? Because any attempt at personal change, including improving your mental fitness, is ultimately governed by your self-awareness of, and relationship with, your nervous system.
There’s no better way to learn how your nervous system works than by listening to Huberman’s clear explanation below.
In his ‘HOW YOUR BRAIN WORKS’ (5:00 – 8:55) episode, Huberman helps you to understand the nervous system’s structure and function. Your aim when listening to this is to acquire a general understanding of the nervous system’s workings so you can build greater mental wellbeing self-awareness.
How we interpret experiences
Knowing how you formulate a response to an experience is critical. This ensures you will be more self-aware and able to gain greater control over your response to, and the effects (positive or negative) of, experiences.
The Question: What factors are involved in formulating a response to an experience?
The Answer: There are 5 factors interrelating, within the nervous system, that dictate any response to an experience.
The 5 factors include: 1. Sensation (sight, touch, sound, smell, taste), 2. Perception (what sensations we choose to focus on), 3. Feelings/Emotions (product of the nervous system – neuromodulators), 4. Thoughts (draw on present, past & future experiences), 5. Actions (conversion of the other factors).
Now you understand these 5 factors, you can start to enjoy the benefits of being more skilfully able to interpret how and why you respond, the way you do, to experiences. In turn, this will empower you to more effectively control the specific aspects of experiences.
Ultimately, with a growing list of mental fitness strategies you will be far more capable of self-regulating how all experiences effect your mood, response, behaviour, and mental wellbeing.
Where to from here?
So if you’re still interested in becoming mentally fit…from now on your aim is to firstly develop your self-awareness around how you interpret, are effected by, and react to different experiences.
In doing this, you’ll start to identify certain experiences that predictably cause you negative outcomes, including unhealthy levels of distress and anxiety. With this information, you will easily identify your specific focus for change. This is where mental fitness strategies come in.
Follow the 4-step process below and as your self-awareness (why and how experiences effect you) and your tool belt of mental fitness strategies and skills increases you’ll progressively enjoy the healthy effects of being mentally fitter.
4 steps to develop better mental wellbeing
- What is the experience that is effecting you?
- Which of the 5 factors (nervous system) is causing these experiences to positively/negatively effect your mental/physical state?
- Once you’ve clearly identified this you need to decide on what you want to focus on changing?
- Finally, once you’ve decided on which of your reactions/actions you want to change, to ensure you minimise the effects, you need to decide how you’re going to go about doing that (mental fitness strategy).
Your Mental Fitness
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