When it comes to physical health, there’s an abundance of information and resources available to help us proactively maintain or build on our physical fitness.
On the other hand, when it comes to our mental health, a lot of the focus tends to be on the resources or support available after ill-mental health is experienced.
Mental health is generally seen through the lens of “an absence of mental health”. However, just like our physical fitness, there are things we can do to proactively build our mental health – a particularly effective approach is improving our “mental fitness”.
This article explores what mental fitness is and why organisations are investing in supporting their people to build their mental fitness.
What is mental fitness?
Mental fitness is a science-based field which was introduced to the positive psychology discipline in 2015. It’s defined as our capacity to use resources and skills to adapt to challenging or beneficial situations, and thrive.
Mental fitness is having a reservoir of personal resources that you can call upon to perform at your best each day and support a state of positive mental wellbeing, even during challenges.
Just like physical fitness, mental fitness can be measured and is something you can work on to increase your overall wellbeing.
The best way to think of managing mental fitness is like a bank account. The more you deposit in your account (through regular practices which build your mental fitness) the more you have to draw on to help reach your goals and adapt when confronted by challenges. When your mental fitness account is running low, you can find yourself with not enough to draw on, and your overall wellbeing can be significantly impacted.
How do you build mental fitness?
Mental fitness is made up of three areas that you can build on:
- Mental Strength
Mental strength is considered ‘mental muscle’. It’s defined as the state of being psychologically strong or having capacity. For example, people who are psychologically strong may have the capacity to build strong healthy relationships with others and have a strong sense of purpose or meaning in their life.
- Mental Endurance
Mental endurance is the ability to sustain higher levels of positivity over an extended period. People with psychological endurance may have high levels of resilience and positive emotions, and feel competent in working towards a goal or successful outcome.
- Mental Flexibility
Mental flexibility is the ability to adapt and change readily depending on the environment. Someone with psychological flexibility may have high levels of mindful awareness and acceptance.
Just as working on your physical fitness gives you energy and allows your body to function well each day, building your mental fitness through increased mental strength, endurance and flexibility provides you with resources you can draw on to thrive in both challenging and positive circumstances.
Why are organisations prioritising employee mental fitness?
Manage change with less stress
Working with continuous uncertainty and change isn’t easy. While most people can manage a certain amount of change, even if it’s unsettling, when it’s continuous or drawn out we can experience change fatigue.
In a survey from Gartner 45% of HR leaders surveyed said their employees are fatigued from all the change they’ve experienced.
Change fatigue can significantly impact employee wellbeing as well as the productivity and performance of a business.
Investing in mental fitness increases individuals’ capacity to manage change in a way that’s not stressful, which benefits employees’ overall wellbeing and the goals of the organisation.
Mitigate stress and improve wellbeing
Building mental fitness is critical to increasing our ability to mitigate stress. By providing employees with access to regular practices that build mental fitness, organisations can help their people prevent stress and improve their wellbeing.
Mental fitness practices also help employees to improve their capability to manage and recover from challenges such as stress.
The success of a business is driven by the people it employs and a mentally fit workforce is equipped with the tools and skills to support their growth, adapt to changing circumstances, stay focussed and motivated, and deal with challenges when they arise. As a by-product, employees who build on their mental fitness and have improved wellbeing are more likely to be productive which also boosts the performance of the organisation.
With the constant changes and pressures of today’s workplace, creating an environment that supports employees, teams and leaders to build their mental fitness is critical in fostering a healthy and thriving workforce.
Iswara’s ‘Thriving Minds’ corporate program empowers employees and organisations to thrive through improved and sustained mental fitness.
Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how you can build a mentally fit workforce, support your people’s wellbeing and drive your organisation’s performance forward.