Introduction to Mental Fitness – how we train the mind


I first mentioned ‘mental fitness’ back on this blog in April 2018. I went on to write a couple of posts about my burgeoning understanding of the concept: domains of mental fitness, mental fitness techniques etc.

In August 2018, I then announced that we were developing a Mental Fitness Course.

That course ended up as a set of 18 ‘lessons’ delivered via blog posts. They are indexed below. They were my first attempt to grapple with the concept of mental fitness.

With that initial process completed, I turned my hand to a new Mental Fitness project. The goal was to create a Mental Fitness Workbook/Guide – a more detailed description of mental fitness and how to build it that students could work through in their own time. That process yielded a finished Mental Fitness Handout (see below) and a work-in-progress guide which you can find here.

With a better understanding of the underlying content, I then created the Mental Fitness Workshop, which is a 90 minute workshop that contains my most up-to-date thoughts on the importance of mental fitness and how to build it. If you are looking to learn more about mental fitness, I recommend signing up for one of those workshops. They are a more interactive way to engage with the material. You can also see these two relatively recent blog posts on mental fitness workouts and mental training exemplars.

There is variation between these resources on how I describe and approach the topic of mental fitness. This is probably confusing to readers, but reflects that I have been developing the mental fitness model on the fly and in the public domain, and my thoughts on the topic are developing rapidly.

Thus I recommend, if the topic is of interest to you, starting with the Handout. It is an up-to-date description of my understanding of mental fitness. 



If you can’t get along to the workshops or there aren’t any more planned, I have produced an “Introduction to Mental Fitness handout” that covers a lot of the core content. Not bad if you want to read the basics in one go. Also has the world’s worst cover image that I have ever made.


Mental Fitness Workshops

There were 2 Mental Fitness Workshops in 2022 – one in May and one in June.

There are no more planned at this stage.

If you would like me to come to talk to your topic/club/course, email me –


Workshop Details

What is it?

A 90-minute workshop with me (Dr Gareth Furber from Health, Counselling and Disability Services) in which I will give you a framework for thinking about how to train your mind.  


Who is it for?

Anyone who is interested in improving or protecting their mental health. 

Anyone working on their physical fitness who’d like to know how similar principles apply to mental fitness.

Anyone interested in how to train the mind. 

Anyone working in a high pressure or high stress setting and wants tools for understanding how to be more resilient.

Anyone in a helping profession that wants a model not only for their own mental health but to assist others in theirs.


What I think you’ll get out of it

A modern definition of mental health and mental fitness.

An understanding of mental fitness and how people go about building it. 

An understanding of why it might be important for you to build mental fitness.

An understanding of what else might be required in one’s life if they are training their mind. 

An experience of different mental fitness ‘workouts’.

An appreciation of the fact that mental fitness can be built without necessarily investing a huge amount of time or effort. 


What is involved in the session?

We’ve packed a lot of content into the 90 minutes, so expect it to be fast-paced.

The workshops are delivered either online (in Collaborate) or f2f at the Oasis Community Centre.  

There are individual reflection exercises throughout the workshop that you’ll be invited to do and you’ll be provided a worksheet to assist with this. Some sharing of your experiences will also be possible during the session.  


Can you get Horizon points?

Yep – 1.5 (note that Horizon is using a new point scheme, so that is why the points are lower than previous) 



Original Blog Lessons (March to September 2019)

These lessons were my first attempt to wrap my head around the mental fitness concept. I’ve moved away from some of these concepts and ideas over time or they don’t feature as much in the current model, but I keep them here because they show some of the thinking I’ve gone through along the way. They are a good illustration of how we do (and probably should) keep trying to develop our ideas over time.

Lesson 1 – A welcome to the course

Lesson 2 – Self-improvement and why we should pursue it deliberately

Lesson 3 – Self-improvement – why pursue it all? – lessons from trying to do more physical activity

Lesson 4 – Identity, values and self-improvement

Lesson 5 – Psychological needs and self-improvement

Lesson 6 – Why the world needs you to self-improve

Lesson 7 – What is mental fitness?

Lesson 8 – Components of mental fitness

Lesson 9 – Examples of mental fitness in everyday life

Lesson 10 – Let’s start building mental fitness – acquiring knowledge

Lesson 11 – From knowledge to goals

Lesson 12 – From knowledge to skills

Lesson 13 – Self-experimentation

Lesson 14 – Habits

Lesson 15 – Let’s summarise. You could start with this lesson if you wanted as it is a concise summary of the previous lessons.

Lesson 16 – Lets practice building mental fitness

Lesson 17 – Building mental fitness update

Lesson 18 – The end, or is it?


Mental Fitness Guide

I’m slowly collecting all my thoughts on the topic and building them into a mini book. The process is a bit random, so rather than sharing chapters as they are completed, I am just giving people access to view the full document as it slowly comes together. You are better off with the workshop or handout in terms of the content itself, but if you want to see the process of the book coming together, you are always welcome to visit the public draft.

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