25 tips for better mental fitness
The new year can be a time of fresh perspective and renewed goals. But it can also be a period of stress; such is the mountain to climb. A good starting point is to check in on your mental fitness. And what better man to offer advice on this than Hadleigh Fischer, founder and director of Resilience Agenda, an Australian social enterprise with a vision for people to think about their mental fitness as they do their physical fitness.
Here are Hadleigh’s top 25 tips to improve your mental fitness.
1. Spend more money on experiences rather than purchases. Usually, experiences involve other people, create better memories, and the lead-up involves anticipation rather than impatience.
2. Rather than viewing relationships as ‘just socialising’, think of them as creating meaning in your life, offering support when needed, and as essential to balancing the stresses of work and life.
3. When feeling an emotion, learn to label them as ‘I am feeling anxious’, rather than ‘I am anxious.’ This reduces the power of the emotion to control your behaviour.
4. Happiness is a dance between pleasure and purpose. As soon as something pleasurable loses its appeal, do something purposeful. And vice versa. Often this means sprinting hard at work or life and then resting fully.
5. If you are feeling miserable, one of the best things you can do is make somebody else’s day to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment and human connection.
6. Avoid multitasking – multitasking is dead. Instead, prioritize the important and the urgent from the rest, and give 100% to what matters. This will lead to better outcomes, less stress, and better memories when you reflect on your life.
7. When working on a computer, think carefully about the windows and programs you have open. Will they ‘popup’ with news or messages and take you off task? This is a recipe for a pickled brain, lack of focus and distraction.
8. Understand that nothing changes in our lives until we change our habits or things we repeatedly do. Good health and habits come from rituals (like teeth cleaning), rather than simply choosing to do something when we ‘feel like it.’
9. Get up every half hour to drink a glass of water and simply move, including regular quick sessions of breathing deeply.
10. To avoid too much ‘choice regret’, stick to the ‘two-option rule’ when making choices. Decide between two holidays, two stores or two meals on a menu. Otherwise, options foregone add up, leaving you with regrets.
11. Brainstorm and consider your ‘life roles’ – as a mother, best friend, social media profile, employee, yoga student, gardener etc. Establish a priority for these things so that life’s decisions become easier and you can learn to say ‘No’.
12. If you haven’t already considered meditation – find five minutes each morning to simply sit still and breathe deeply, before the deluge of the day’s tasks
13. Consider how your environment shapes your thoughts. Having your phone near you when working or socializing makes you think of it, tempting you to check it.
14. Remove the apps with reminders or notifications from your phone home screen. This helps
15. Learn to manage your expectations and not always require ‘the best’ in every area of life. Actively choose the areas in life where a ‘good enough’ choice is good enough, even if in other areas you are a perfectionist.
16. Sleep with a normal old alarm clock and charge your phone outside of your bedroom to avoid instantly checking messages upon waking, or ‘just checking’ before going to bed which can lead to racing thoughts.
17. Learn to realize that your thoughts are merely suggestions for how to feel or act. They are not ‘you.’ You can dispute your thoughts, or argue with them, so as to avoid ‘fusing’ or becoming one with them and becoming their slave.
18. When worrying about something, try to experiment with asking ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’, followed by ‘so-what’? If you can accept this reality, then the anxiety loses much of its power.
19. Learn to catch yourself when using phrases such as ‘I’ll be happy when’ or ‘I’d be happy if only.’
20. Reframe sleep as something restorative that will build your
21. Try to use daily tasks and events to build rituals into your life. For example, every time you open the fridge, consider gratitude. Every time you leave the house, consider thinking compassionate thoughts about people who may annoy or upset you.
22. To develop stronger relationships, spend more time talking about things you want to
23. Reduce anxiety and clutter by realizing that everything in your life has a place or a home. For example, car keys live by the front door, the phone chargers in the loungeroom, and clothes belong on a chair.
24. Generosity doesn’t have to mean money – it can mean a compliment, thank you note, or considerate gesture. You will feel incredible each time you look beyond your own problems to lead and guide others.
25. Write down three things each day for which you are grateful – invest in a log or journal so you can track over time and review occasionally or when feeling down.
Resilience Agenda’s stylish 2019 Mental Fitness Diary can be purchased here. (Use the coupon code FRIENDS for a discount.)