We all know what we have to do to be physically fit. It means that we eat foods that are good for us. We follow some type of exercise program. Most likely, our weight is within the normal range for our height. If we gain a few pounds or our cholesterol starts to rise, we know the types of foods we should avoid and how to step up our exercise program. We can use our weight as an indicator of how physically fit we are. We all know that in order to remain physically healthy, we have to work at it.
We can say the same thing about mental fitness; we have to work at it. Unfortunately, there’s not as much written about the kinds of things we can do to stay mentally healthy. And, we don’t have a widely accepted measure for being mentally fit. Dr. William Glasser, the founder of choice theory, liked to use happiness as the indicator for good mental health. Being mentally fit doesn’t mean that we are joyously happy all of the time. It means that we are generally content with the way things are. When we are mentally healthy, we have a feeling of satisfaction about our lives.
Using the mental versus physical fitness analogy, experiencing additional stress (being less happy) in our lives can be comparable to putting on a few pounds. When we find that our clothes are getting a bit tight, that’s our signal that we need to check our habits. Maybe we’ve started eating a few extra desserts or missing a day here and there to exercise. If we catch it quickly, it won’t take long to readjust and we have a good chance of taking off those unwanted pounds. If we don’t do anything, we know that the pounds will continue to add up.
When we feel unhappy, this generally means that the events in our life do not match the thoughts in our head. This is our signal that we need to do something different. Sometimes, just going outside for a walk on a beautiful day, turning on a funny movie or making a list of the things we are grateful for will help us to feel a little better. These actions will work for the short term, but we will often need to make some more substantial changes to sustain our good feelings.
Working with a mental fitness trainer can help the mentally unfit to better sustain those good feelings. This is done by helping the client to get her basic needs met, such as enlarging her support group, doing things that give her a sense of accomplishment or taking a much-needed vacation. This can be considered an exercise program for enhanced mental health. Meeting our basic needs for enhanced mental health is analogous to getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food and following a regular exercise program for improved physical health.
The mental fitness trainer will also help the client to examine her beliefs. We often harbor limiting beliefs where we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough or smart enough to succeed. These beliefs often result in our taking actions which only serve to prove that we aren’t good or smart enough. The trainer will help the client replace those limiting beliefs with more productive ones and to instill confidence in the client that she has the power within her to make positive changes in her life. The goal is to empower and support the client to take charge of her destiny.
Once you accept that you are in control of your mental health, you will become more aware of the things that help you to feel good and fulfilled. You have the power within you to create a happier and more successful life for yourself. You can live the life of your dreams.