Mental Health Resource Minderful talk about their pioneering approach supporting mental fitness
Recognising the need for an accessible resource to support with mental health online, Minderful, meaning “nurturing a good state of mental fitness”, is a website comprised of ‘blocks’ and ‘block routines’, features that allow for users to create their very own personalised wellness routines. Currently available to access, Minderful tell us more about the website’s creation, the website’s focus on ‘mental fitness’ and what their hopes for the resource are moving forward.
Minderful was created as a response to issues regarding mental health either experienced by yourselves or witnessed. How have you found the experience of creating the resource?
Overall I’ve found it an incredibly positive experience. The concept of Minderful began in summer 2019 when myself and my two co-founders came together to create a platform where people can find things to do for their mental fitness.
Our aim back then (and it still underpins much of what we do) was to encourage people to re-engage in the ‘real’ world and spend less time in their heads or in front of a screen. We really focused on a proactive approach and the physical aspects of doing more. Over time, this developed into the broader concept of mental fitness – a term pioneered by our co-founder doctor Dr Nicholas Prior – which, put simply, is the practice of doing multiple things that are good for our minds on a regular basis, based upon the scientific principle of the bio-psycho-social model. This includes anything from going for a walk in the rain, forest bathing, listening to ASMR or learning about – and gaining context for – our negative emotions.
As each mind is different, (unlike, for example, the uniformity of the bicep muscle), it’s been a challenge to find a formula that has the potential to work for everyone. To date, that has been our biggest hurdle but one we knew, if we overcame it, would have the most positive impact on the widest audience. We’re confident our product will offer this and so we’re excited for what 2021 has to offer.
One final point: although we started Minderful prior to COVID-19, the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s understanding and experience of mental fitness has really highlighted its importance and we hope, even after the return to some normality which we all crave, people will remain engaged in the practice of mental fitness and the broad benefits that arise from it.
Minderful focuses on ‘mental fitness’, routines helping to support mental health. Why is this important?
Routine and structure are absolutely key to maintaining good mental fitness. Since the 1980s after the explosion of the fast food industry, people came to realise that our bodies need physical fitness routines to remain strong and healthy. The mind is no different and at Minderful we believe the 2020s will be the decade that more and more of us turn to doing things that prioritise the health of our minds. In terms of why routine is important: put simply, it provides a structure to build better habits from. At 8pm, for example, I have a hot bath and practice breathing exercises, allowing my mind to sync up with deeply ingrained circadian rhythms. These help us to sleep better and provide our minds with the space to strengthen and become more resilient. In the current climate, I feel we can all do with more resilience and so I strongly suggest to yourself to ask the question: what’s your current mental fitness routine?
Minderful’s approach takes place in three stages – ‘research, blocks and block routines’. Can you explain each of these stages further?
As I mentioned, mental fitness requires a broad approach. The problem is there is almost an infinite array of things you can do to look after your mind. For this reason and to make it more accessible, we have broken down the mental-fitness-sphere, if you like, into units which we call ‘blocks’ – think of them as building blocks for your mind. After we come up with an idea for a block (e.g. walking in the rain), we have an amazing research team who dive deeper into the science behind why that suggestion is good for your mind. Our content team then develop the script and we deliver each block as a 2-minute audio on our website. By providing hundreds of these blocks to act as inspiration, it allows the user to explore and create their own mental fitness routines by trying things out and establishing what works for them.
There’s a section of the Minderful website called ‘The Block Store’, containing blocks categorised as ‘do, learn, inspire and unexpected’. What inspired these categories?
Minderful’s mental health specialist Dr Nicholas Prior often reminds us that there is no silver bullet to looking after your mind. When we started he was keen to establish four key areas to act as a simple filter and make it easier for users to know which areas to work on. For example, learning about your emotions through a block like The Change Triangle (which explores the links between thoughts, emotions & behaviours) and complimenting this with trying something unexpected in the real world, such as going Forest Bathing, ensures that you’re acting from a position of both understanding and experiencing – two key components to good mental fitness.
Whilst creating the resource, have you learned anything new about yourselves/mental health/both?
Absolutely. Each time someone signs up to Minderful they are asked one simple question; what do you do to look after your mind? Interestingly, when I began this journey my instant response would have been yoga and meditation. However, it was only through seeing what others wrote that cooking emerged as another string to my mental fitness bow. I now cook far more regularly and it has become a much needed and enjoyable addition to my mental fitness routine. We’re really excited to be launching our podcast that brings to life this sharing and learning concept to life. It is called 1-Minute Mental Fitness (you can find us on Spotify) and it will be a resource of snappy and quick ideas populated by anyone and everyone on what they do for their mental fitness, again to act as a simple point of inspiration for our users and followers.
What are your hopes for Minderful moving forward?
This year we launch our app. Stay tuned. And, of course, with that comes building the team, bringing Minderful and mental fitness to a wider audience and, with luck, ultimately cultivating more happiness in a seemingly bruised world.
What can visitors of Minderful expect from the resource?
As mentioned above, this year we are launching our app and so a lot of our attention is going on developing and improving our current offering (which you can find at minderful.com) to create that wonder product – the world’s most effective app to look after your mind.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Questions answered by Co-Founder James Harrop.
To find out more about Minderful, visit here…