Gus Worland’s top tips for shaping up your mental fitness
Mental fitness is as important as physical health, says Gotcha4Life founder Gus Worland – so how can you get yours in top shape?
Gus Worland believes strengthening the mental fitness of Australians is paramount to reversing the country’s mental health crisis.
“We need to build our mental fitness up just like we need to build our physical fitness up,” says the former radio presenter turned mental health campaigner.
“Just like you’ve got to get your personal trainer out in the gym, you’ve got to get your personal trainer out in the mind gym as well.”
What is mental fitness?
Mental fitness is an increasingly prevalent term used to describe the proactive steps you can take to help keep your emotional health in good order, and like physical fitness, it requires regular attention to be at its strongest.
With an emphasis on emotional, social and physical strength, when we are mentally fit we are better equipped to handle the challenges life throws our way.
Through his mental health charity, Gotcha4Life, Gus and his team of partner programs focus on educating people about mental fitness and how it can be improved.
Have meaningful chats with mates
Gus says one of the key actions toward building mental fitness is developing meaningful connections with people in your life and learning how to have honest – and sometimes hard – conversations when the chips are down.
“You’ve got to get in the grind and have a conversation of gravity (when you’re low),” he says.
“Send out a few messages and say you’re feeling a bit low at the moment, would you like to catch up?
“That’s a hard text to send… but it’s like getting into the gym, it can be hard at the start but you’ll get better if you keep doing it.
“It’s like when you do anything major – would you ever run a marathon after doing one training session?
“You need to get into the grind, realise it’s going to be difficult – but what an awesome result, either finishing a marathon or having a mate that just loves you, and you can confide in.”
- Face to face: Why IRL friendships are good for you in the digital age
Ways to build mental fitness
While learning to be vulnerable and connect with others is important, other key components of the mental fitness toolkit are movement, nutrition, sleep and gratitude.
In the book Manage Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide, mental health clinicians Gillian Butler and Tony Hope discuss seven skills that can help develop mental fitness:
- Managing yourself and your time
- Being able to face your problems
- Valuing yourself
- Problem solving and being able to identify strategies for change
- Keeping things in perspective
- Building self-confidence and self-esteem
- Learning to relax.
How to know it’s time to build mental fitness
Gus recommends people self-rate their physical and mental fitness out of 10.
“I would say I’m a seven out of 10 for physical fitness and about an eight out of 10 for mental fitness,” he says.
“If you rate yourself as anything less than a five you probably want to change something and do something different.”
Gus is also keenly aware of the links between physical and mental health.
At the end of 2019, weighing 148kg and fatigued from a heavy workload, Gus resolved to focus on his overall health.
With a supportive team behind him and the help of OptiMan meal replacement shakes, he has since lost 30kg and aims to lose a further 15kg.
Breaking down mental health barriers
Sporting greats Wendell Sailor and Jude Bolton have teamed up with Gus and Gotcha4Life to help tackle Australia’s mental health crisis.
Both understand the importance of having a mate to lean on in tough times, as each has witnessed too many of their friends try to confront difficulties alone.
Money raised through Gotcha4Life supports initiatives including Tomorrow Man, Tomorrow Woman, Rural Outreach Council, Lifeline and Man Anchor.
To get involved in Gotcha 4Life, visit Gotcha4Life.org
Written by Claire Burke.