What is Mental Fitness? 5 Ways Mental Fitness Can Improve Your Productivity

By Ann Elliott

Person running down a street | What is mental fitness?

Our very own brain hijacks us and puts us into survival mode when no real danger exists. Looking at the world through a survival lens, most things look like danger. With the focus on safety, powerful mental resources such as creativity take a backseat. The problem with unconsciously allowing your thinking to spend so much time here, your stress, negativity, and anxiety feel normal. There is a better way.

What Is Mental Fitness? 

Mental fitness, like physical fitness, develops mental muscles to intercept those incoming, normal feeling thinking patterns that do not serve you. For example, women who operate in male-dominated businesses such as construction, face obstacles that their male counterparts do not encounter. The world assumes men know how to complete a project on time and within budget; women must prove they can do the same thing. Being strong mentally by training your brain to recognize your old, unproductive mental habits, transforms your ability to recover faster from setbacks and sets the stage for finding creative solutions. Mental fitness builds confidence.

How Does Mental Fitness Work? 

The benefit of mental fitness is the ability to thrive in challenging times with a positive mindset rather than a negative one. People who develop this ability experience positive results in the following three areas:

Peak performance 

Peace of mind/wellness

Healthy relationships

Three Core Muscles for Mental Fitness

The method involves strengthening THREE CORE MUSCLES. Yes, it is that simple. 

The Saboteur Interceptor

First, the Saboteur Interceptor recognizes your thinking that undermines your best efforts. For example, someone who expects everything to be perfect is rarely satisfied with their work or the work of others. The team you have in your company to satisfy customers through quality products and amazing service, can become demoralized because they know whatever they do will never be right. In the Positive Intelligence (PQ) program developed by Shirzad Chamine, there are ten Saboteurs. The Stickler Saboteur insists on perfection. I affectionately refer to my Stickler Saboteur as Li’l’ Ms. Perfect.

The Self Command

Second, the Self Command is important because it directs your mind to go to a different part of the brain. This muscle interrupts the usual, normal way of thinking and commands it to “take another path.” The new path leads to a part of the brain that supports innovation, kindness, curiosity, creativity, and exploration.

The Sage

Third, the Sage is the area of the brain where you experience positive emotions, peace and calm, laser focus, and big picture views. The more mentally fit you become the more often you make decisions from this part of your brain. You find the gift/opportunity in the most trying circumstances. For instance, the recent Pandemic upended normal ways of doing things. Without the events in 2020-2022 I would not have learned the technology skills to host ZOOM meetings for peer learning with women running multimillion dollar companies. And, in addition, my spices are in alphabetical order, cabinets under the sink are decluttered, and important legal documents are organized in one place.

It is important to recognize that producing positive results in the three areas of performance, wellbeing, and relationships involves 20% insight and 80% muscle building. Attending a conference or workshop, for instance, can provide extraordinary insight. The same is true for a book or an online seminar. Long term, positive results come from strengthening your mental muscles by consistent mental muscle building. 

Where to Start to Build Mental Fitness:

Acknowledge the power of your brain and of familiar patterns of thinking

Learn which saboteurs have the biggest control on your thinking

Discover how these undermine your efforts in your personal and professional life

Assess the cost to you to maintain this way of showing up in the world

Commit to learn new ways of thinking to strengthen mental fitness for performance, wellbeing, and relationships

The leader of a large organization that I am currently working with had been avoiding the ultimate outcome of releasing a member of her staff. She credits her stronger mental muscles with the clarity and the courage to take this step for the health of the organization. Without the negative influence of the newly released staff member, the team can focus on building a thriving organization that supports not only each other but the clients of the organization and the community. 

In Summary….

The exciting thing about developing your mental fitness is that you are completely in charge. You control your thinking especially when you identify your saboteurs. A word of warning. They are wily rascals that want you to believe you need them to keep you in a state of high anxiety to achieve your goals. Saboteurs rely on the following: fear, stress, anger, guilt, shame, and insecurity to motivate you. You may achieve success but lack happiness. Neuroscience confirms the right side of your brain engages the following positive emotions to motivate you: empathy, curiosity, creativity, passion, and purpose. 

Why not get your New Year off to a fantastic start? In what area of your life would like to create “ease and flow” instead of “no pain no gain?”

To learn more about this program, reach out here.

© 2022 Ann Elliott 

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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