The Mental Fitness Toolkit
The Five Pillars of Well-being | The Mental Fitness Framework
Resilience Agenda’s Mental Fitness Toolkit brings together the some of the most useful distinctions, ideas and insights from positive psychology, practical philosophy and behavioural science into one easily accessible place.
Mental Fitness is the idea that we can be more positive, pro-active, and preventative in how we approach our mental health and wellbeing. An easily understood metaphor, Resilience Agenda uses Mental Fitness to make the insights of positive psychology more relevant, engaging and inspiring.
Just like Physical Fitness, Mental Fitness requires motivation, time, effort, can involve setbacks and can be hard work! But it can also be fun, social, make us feel great, give us clarity, and might just even prevent us becoming unwell down the track. What have you got to lose?
The Mental Fitness Toolkit is an ideal personal development companion whether you are seeking to optimize your well-being, pick yourself up from a setback, or to help others find their way through tough times.
One of the great things about Mental Fitness is that you don’t need to have a problem to get started. And just like physical fitness, whilst expert help is often useful, not seeking advice is no excuse for not starting.
The great thing about Mental Fitness is that its level is never fixed. Our Mental Fitness is constantly going up or down dependong on our environment, our circumstances, and what we choose to think and do. Sure, some people need lots of help if things get a bit too much, but we can impact more earlier if we know the levers under our control to impact our well-being.
Learn more about Mental Fitness and developing your resilience in the 2020 Resilience Agenda Mental Fitness Diary.
The Five Pillars Of
We all know that we need to exercise for optimal well-being, but often we don’t.
A focus on movement instead allows us to think differently about what we mean by exercise and how to benefit from it.
That means things like stretching, yoga or getting up regularly make a difference.
We are learning more and more each year that what and how we eat affects not just our bodies, but also how we feel, think and act.
It’s not about this diet or that diet but instead giving new meaning to how and why we eat.
Great nutrition means food is not an end in itself, but a component of living ‘the good life.’
Getting enough rest in our 24/7 world seems harder than ever, partly because there’s so much to do.
However, by skillfully integrating technology, work and responsibilities, we can learn to prioritise what we do each day, rest smarter and get better sleep, not simply more of it.
Creating meaningful relationships requires effort, time and empathy because the quality of our relationships with partners, friends and colleagues is one of the key determinants of our well-being.
Plus, with everything that’s going on often we don’t prioritize relationships because we assume other things matter more. Connection is more than just fun and having a good time, it’s a crucial component of our mental health and well-being.
The way we engage with and interpret our world is another of the major impacts on our wellbeing.
Our outlook, attitude and approach determine our reality as well as how we experience each moment of the day.
A positive and growth mindset allows us to see life as an opportunity rather than a drag.
The central skill of optimism is the ability find meaning, purpose and hope in our life situation, despite the challenges we might face.
Optimism is about building a solution-focus to the future, compartmentalizing areas of our lives (such as family, work or health) where we do experience setbacks, and internalizing the idea that most things aren’t permanent and that “this too shall pass.”
The ability to observe our thoughts and manage how we feel without getting overwhelmed is the key skill of mindfulness.
It means developing the ability to respond thoughtfully to things rather than simply react.
This allows us to make more strategic decisions for how to think, feel and act, rather than letting every thought, worry or comment take us down the path of rumination.
The art of appreciation is all about being genuinely thankful for what we have, despite everything that we don’t have or that might be going wrong for us.
When things get tough, gratitude gives us a bank full of positive memories that things aren’t totally hopeless.
It’s not enough to think of ourselves as grateful, we have to do gratitude regularly, meaning we need to find ways to action it.
That could be writing things down that go well, actively appreciating others in person, or imagining losing something we value.
The essence of re-framing is the ability to wrestle with our thoughts and accurately assess whether they are true, helpful or encouraging.
It’s about not getting lost in a vortex of worry, but instead having a systematic way to re-interpret negative thoughts and events so that we determine what things mean and what matters.
This means focusing on what we can control rather than getting hung up on things outside our circle of influence.
As we become more emotionally aware, we realize life is less and less about us and our ego and more about where we fit into the world around us.
Perspective is all about building empathy and understanding for others, seeing the bigger picture so we don’t get lost in the ocean of our own problems, and appreciating that there might be other ways of thinking, acting and living that we haven’t quite discovered yet.