It’s been a while since I spoke about Mental Fitness on this blog, but don’t think that I have abandoned this topic. Not in the slightest. I am actually gearing up for the next stage!
In fact the purpose of this post is to let you know what is happening with the Mental Fitness course and where we are headed next.
A quick update first
The Lessons for this course started back in March of 2019. Including this lesson, I’ve written 18 in total.
Over that time I’ve explored a lot of concepts, learned a lot myself in the process and encouraged you to make some changes in your own life with the purpose of building mental fitness.
In the last lesson, I talked about the most recent change I’ve made in my life, which was altering my bed-time from 10.30 to 9.30. I now consistently go to bed at 9.30, often on weekends as well. Yes, that makes me somewhat of a ‘old man’ but the benefits have far outweighed the ridicule of others 🙂 I wake up refreshed. I find my overall mood is better. I find my productivity is higher, particularly in the mornings. I have more interesting and vivid dreams. I would definitely class the simple experiment of getting 1 hour of extra sleep a night as a success.
The example of getting an extra hour of sleep per night might seem like an irrelevant life change to be talking about, but it is these kinds of small incremental improvements to your life that are at the heart of how one can build mental fitness in their everyday life.
Outside of making big investments in one’s mental health and fitness (e.g. starting a degree, going into therapy, doing regular brain training), it is those regular smaller changes and improvements in your everyday life that can add up.
A number of things change when you start making small improvements in your life
- You get better at making small improvements! Change is hard and requires a number of psychological skills and capabilities to be working in tandem. As you practice these, you get better at them. For example, you:
- need to get yourself in the right frame of mind (willing to change)
- need to work out which aspects of your life need improving
- need to work out what kinds of changes will help improve your life
- have to set goals
- might need to acquire new knowledge or skills or resources
- may have to experiment with the change for a while before you get it right
- have to embed the change into your everyday life
- The changes you make will have benefits of their own. Take sleep for example. Extra or better quality sleep is linked to a range of positive mental health outcomes. That extra hour has made positive differences to my mood, ability to concentrate and physical health.
- Small positive changes accumulate quite quickly and interact in a way that produces benefits larger than you might expect. I’ve made a few changes over the past couple of years: meditation, exercise, diet, standing desk, sleep. Each individual change isn’t much on it’s own, but they quickly accumulate and start to shape the way your day unfolds. For example, extra sleep means I wake up refreshed, which means my morning meditation goes more smoothly and I get get to work in a better frame of mind.
- You develop a sense of competence. Having made some good changes in my life over the past couple of years, I am starting to feel more competent in my ability to shape my life.
- You develop a sense of autonomy. I feel more in charge of my own life.
As I’ve said before, I am not really fussed about what kinds of changes you make to your life – each of us has our own sets of goals and abilities and interests and histories. The changes that you make in your life are probably going to be a bit different than the ones that I make.
What I am interested in however is you contemplating whether the concept of committing to making small incremental improvements to yourself is something that you think would help enhance your quality of life. Does it seem like a valid way to build mental fitness in your own life? If it does, what kinds of changes do you think you could make?
Where to for the Mental Fitness course now?
When I read back over the last 18 lessons, I am struck by the fact that there are concepts I would explain or emphasise differently, if I had another chance. I would probably sequence the lessons in a different way. There is stuff that I would add to some of the lessons.
I contemplated going back and trying to edit those posts, yet something tells me that it is more important to leave them as they are (with the exception of a few small changes to update links, fix spelling mistakes or explain concepts better). Those posts are like a historical record of what I was thinking about Mental Fitness at the time.
Instead I am going to to start a new Mental Fitness project here on the blog. I am going to write a Mental Fitness Workbook.
One of the most popular resources here at HCDS is the Put Off Procrastination Workbook, which was written by the CCI and formulated into a workbook format by moi. In one handout, students can find a whole program for tackling procrastination. The print versions are particularly popular, suggesting to me the world of print is definitely not dead.
What I’d like to do is capture, in a similar format, everything I have learned about building Mental Fitness and self-improvement and make it available for students wanting to make changes in their life. An all-in-one Mental Fitness intervention that you can use to start making positive changes in your life.
Then in 2020, we’ll look at how to provide coaching support to go alongside the workbook, so that students who commit to working on making changes in their life can get email/phone or similar type of support along the way.
It’s an exciting development for me and I look forward to building it.
I am going to build the workbook right in front of you
As this blog has developed, I have sought to be increasingly more transparent in my posts. I see no reasons why we can’t have a public and open discussion and exchange on the topics of health, wellbeing and mental health.
So rather than develop the workbook in the background, I am going to put the chapters as they develop up here on the blog. For those who have read the previous lessons, you will get to see where my thinking has changed over time. For those new to the whole process, it is a chance to get involved with the ideas from the beginning again.
I’ll structure it in a way such that each post is a separate chapter. I’ll summarise them on the introductory post, in the same way as I did the previous lessons.
My goal is to have the workbook ready by the end of the year (2019).
Let’s get started 🙂