It’s not surprising that staying physically fit can be a challenge for many people. We live in a busy and chaotic world, with endless pressures on our time and energy. Too often we accept the loss of fitness and pay for it next time we find the time and motivation to pull on our running shoes.
Making time for mental fitness
People may be time poor when it comes to physical fitness, but at least it’s on our radar. How many of us actually prioritise and make time to work on our mental fitness?
If I asked you what would it take to get physically fit enough to run 12kms, or to lose that 5% surplus body weight over 12 months, most of us would have no problem developing a suitable training plan. But what if I asked you what would it take to:
Decrease your stress levels;
Feel more relaxed;
Increase your focus and clarity to become more efficient at work; and
Increase your ability to overcome the regular adversity that comes your way?
Most people wouldn’t know where to start.
Assessment and goal setting
Just like physical fitness – which is often structured and goal oriented – we must approach mental fitness proactively. Without working on improving our mental fitness, we will not think, process, problem-solve and stay on top of our emotions.
Improving mental fitness requires a similarly holistic plan to getting physically fit. It starts with self-reflection to assess where you think you are emotionally, how you think you are performing cognitively and setting some structured goals. Your goals may consist of simple tasks like improving your diet, increasing your sleep, taking regular time out for yourself, meditation or reading books. It could also include attending specialised courses, attempting further study, finding a mentor or someone to regularly help debrief, or by engaging a specialised professional in this area.
A team effort
Training for a marathon requires a regular, structured, holistic training plan – involving you, your training partner and often specialist advice too. Mental fitness is no different. Most people wouldn’t think twice in engaging a friend, exercise partner or even a personal trainer to help them develop their physical fitness. Why should mental fitness be any different?
We should treat our minds with as much respect and importance as our physical selves. Then when we need to rely on ourselves, we know that we have put in the training and have the confidence to meet any mental challenges that come our way.
Your GP can provide advice on improving your mental fitness and help guide you in setting and achieving your goals.
This article was written by Dr Ben Grant