Mental Skills

January 30, 2017

I am working on a nutrition certification through  It's a fantastic certification, covering not only great and super practical nutrition info based on actual science, but it also covers a lot of psychology, which is necessary when helping people implement changes.


Today I'm reading about mental skills, and I feel like it's worth noting that these skills are necessary for anyone doing anything difficult.  I feel that being aware of some mental skills can help us to think clearly about them when we are under stress.  In order to get good at something you have to practice it.  Take time to practice these skills.  These are just some of the many mental skills that we have (taken from

  • Mental skill: Staying focused
    Purposely placing attention where it needs to be, even in the face of distraction. For example: Sticking to a healthy eating plan despite a busy work schedule. Or staying on track with a home workout while your kids are crawling the walls.

  • Mental skill: Re-focusing
    Bringing your attention back, as soon as possible, when things get off track. For example: Immediately getting back to a normal healthy eating routine after a holiday weekend of partying. Or finishing a workout after a text message from your boss.

  • Mental skill: Goal follow-through
    Setting a goal, working toward it, and staying on track with it. For example: Deciding that sleep is more important than evening TV and sticking to that priority almost every night.

  • Mental skill: Identifying core values
    Understanding your most important values in life, making them a priority, and taking steps to live them. For example: Realizing that your #1 motivation is to set a good example for your children and following through on that.

  • Mental skill: Developing awareness
    Understanding how your immediate thoughts and feelings are intimately connected to your behaviors. For example: Discovering that different emotions reliably lead to specific eating choices. Or specific external circumstances reliably cause you to attend or skip the gym.

  • Mental skill: Uncovering stories about ourselves
    Realizing that we’re constantly “writing” stories and scripts for ourselves and acknowledging that we have the power to rewrite them with a different ending. For example: “I’m a gym dork” can be re-written to “I’m showing up every day and trying hard” and eventually “Hey! I just did my first chin-up! Gym dork begone!”.

  • Mental skill: Releasing wondering and worrying
    Confronting anxieties, fears, or worries head on instead of shrinking from them. For example: Noticing and naming that you’re “worried whether this will work” or “that you might fail” and that it’s okay to feel these things—everyone does—and that these feelings are no reason to pull back.

  • Mental skill: Limiting factors
    Identifying limiting factors (the things in your way right now) and changing them. For example: Maybe you hate your job, have unsupportive friends, or live in a place unsuitable to your goals. Identifying that and working to change it.

  • Mental skill: Getting “un-stuck”
    Knowing when unhelpful beliefs or patterns are in your way. For example: “I guess I just don’t have any willpower”. And being able to create new beliefs or patterns. For example: “I am in charge of my choices”.

  • Mental skill: Impulse and emotion control
    Seeing when impulses and emotions tend to get the better of you, paying attention to that, and working to improve it. For example: Improving your automatic responses to being angry, sad, or bored.

  • Mental skill: Discomfort
    Embracing and sitting with discomfort. For example: When learning a new movement or habit, knowing it’s supposed to suck. And doing it anyway.

  • Mental Skill: Resilience
    Trusting that you’ll survive, no matter what, and bouncing back from “failures”, defeats, and/or setbacks. For example: “That bad thing happened and it’s okay; I’m going to learn something from it and be better because of it”.










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