I think we’re all pretty familiar with the importance of physical fitness at this point. But what about mental fitness? What does that even mean and why is it important?
Mental fitness can be defined as our ability to think clearly and to navigate life situations effectively. It’s possessing a state of well-being both mentally and emotionally that enables us to perform at our best in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
In the wake of the ongoing Covid pandemic and the societal and cultural changes taking place, more and more people have been thrust into unfamiliar circumstances, with uncertainty about how to navigate them. Working from home or hybrid work, for example, seem to be part of our “new normal,” which leaves some struggling to delineate the boundaries between work and home, and others having to redefine parenting responsibilities and school schedules. We live in a time where many of us are having to navigate unfamiliar challenges and uncertainty.
Just as we practice proactive approaches to our physical fitness – healthy nutrition, exercise, getting enough sleep and so on – we can also practice proactive approaches to our mental fitness.
Here I want to differentiate between mental fitness and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or other issues. These types of problems should not be ignored, especially if they are ongoing, and may require the assistance of a trained mental health professional or other medical provider.
I liken mental fitness to the idea of thriving. A thriving individual feels good about life and about themselves. A thriving person is doing well in their life, relationships and work. They are confident and hopeful about the future. Like all of us, they experience disappointments and setbacks but are able to recover and bounce back. They are resilient in the face of difficulty. Mentally fit individuals are able to find the “silver lining” in a problem and use it as an opportunity for growth.
Another characteristic of being mentally fit is having healthy relationships. They have a sense of community with others, they are empathic, and communicate clearly. They know how to regulate their emotions and respond rather than react.
I am currently taking a year-long training in mental fitness called Positive Intelligence which was developed through research conducted with over 500,000 participants, by Shirzad Chamine. Shirzad Chamine has been CEO of the largest coach training organization in the world, is a sought after C-Suite advisor and has trained faculty at Stanford and Yale business schools. His lectures on Positive Intelligence at Stanford University caused his students to label his program “Jedi-Mind Training,” while it’s more commonly known as mental fitness training.
How can we as individuals develop our own mental fitness? I’ll be sharing more on this topic in posts to come so stay tuned.