How to train your mind and become mentally fit

Founders have neglected their mental fitness for too long. With the rise of chronic stress, overwhelm and burnout/depression - this is becoming an urgent concern. In some cases, it’s meant founders have had to close down their company. The mental fitness of a founder is the cornerstone of sustainable professional and personal success.

This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe.


Before we dive into this, I want to explain why I am using the term ‘mental fitness’, a concept that is different from the usual term we use: mental health. Everyone has a ‘mental health’. If you have a mind, you have a ‘mental health’. But that doesn’t mean you are mentally fit.

A good comparison would be physical health. If you have a body, you have a ‘physical health’. But you are only physically fit when you are going to the gym, or do yoga or lift weights. In the same way, mental fitness requires the active training of the mind so you can maintain positive mental health. In simple terms… your mind needs to go to the gym as well.

Mental fitness includes emotional intelligence, stress management, adaptability, and achieving goals. These qualities enable founders to navigate the inevitable challenges and setbacks in the entrepreneurial journey as well as achieving the performance and success they want. You might be thinking ‘I’ve heard this all before’, but I want to take a different stance on it.


Society has often perpetuated the narrative that founders must sacrifice their wellbeing for the sake of their companies. The image of a sleep-deprived, overworked, and stressed entrepreneur is deeply ingrained in the startup culture. But this narrative is not only detrimental to the individual's health but also counterproductive to the company's long-term success.

Wellbeing and performance are not mutually exclusive. In fact, founders who prioritise their mental fitness are more likely to make clear decisions, build resilient teams, and sustain the passion and drive needed to perform exceptionally.


I find it helpful to think about being a founder like being an athlete. Athletes understand the intricate balance between peak performance and maintaining wellbeing. For example, training the mind or actively resting is not a reward for the work, it’s part of the work. Their approach is more proactive, helping them stay agile and prepared. Similarly, founders can and need to apply the same principles to their lives and businesses.

A powerful example of a mental fitness tool would be visualisation. This is the process of creating images, environments and feelings in the mind before they have happened. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘mental imagery’. The technique has been used for decades amongst elite athletes like Michael Phelps and Serena Williams. It is one of the most powerful tools for rewiring the brain for elite mental, physical and emotional performance.

Most founders or business owners tend to start caring about training their mind when they reach a breaking point. They are already burnt out, exhausted or experiencing physical pain/disease. I’ve been there too. It’s so easy to ignore signs and just push through extreme stress. In fact, I did this for years and then was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis. I spent years in and out of hospital, fighting for my life. When I took control of my mind, its thoughts, and the way my beliefs shaped me, I was able to overcome the illness.

Mental fitness is a reminder that training the mind is not just a reactive measure but a proactive one. Not only can it help us better deal with challenges in the moment, but it can help prevent them too. If you are proactive, you focus on preparing. If you are reactive, the focus is on repairing.

All sounds great, but ‘I don’t have time for this’. The truth is, mental fitness doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.

Most people overcomplicate mental fitness. Hopefully, this has made it simpler. If there is one thing to remember… Train your mind like you train your body. You can start right now.

Now more than ever, I can confidently say that mental fitness is not a luxury; it's a necessity. By embracing the role of founders as athletes, balancing performance and wellbeing, and harnessing tools like visualisation, entrepreneurs can achieve sustainable success while nurturing their mental and emotional health. It's time to rewrite the narrative and embark on a journey where success and wellbeing go hand in hand.

Here are 13 small and free ways to work on your mental fitness 

• Face your emotions instead of running away
• Practice visualisation for your goals, tasks and focus
• Write down what you are thinking
• Notice and change your self talk
• Practice implementing boundaries
• Find time to do nothing
• Create a not to do list
• Connect with others
• Also spend time alone
• Challenge yourself
• Move your body
• Learn to let go
• Laugh