How to Increase Your Mental Agility With Dr. Elaine Fox

dr. elaine fox

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Elaine Fox

Elaine Fox, PhD, is a cognitive psychologist and the Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

She’s a leading mental health researcher who combines genetics, psychology, and neuroscience. She runs the Oxford Elite Performance, a consulting group that brings cutting-edge science and psychology to those at the highest levels of sport, business, and the military.

Her 2012 book, "Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain," is an international bestseller. Her newest book, "Switch Craft," focuses on the benefits of mental agility. 

Why Elaine Fox Is Mentally Strong

Elaine has conducted extensive research into what we can do to increase our psychological flexibility. She shares what she learns and is open to sharing the struggles and strategies she applies to her own life.

She tackles a subject that a lot of people gloss over. There are lots of books suggesting we should become more tolerant of uncertainty or we should make better choices when solving problems. But Elaine shows why we often get stuck and the strategies we can use to create positive change.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • Why we reach for the same old problem-solving skills and behaviors when we are under pressure
  • What it means to be psychologically flexible
  • How we get stuck in rigid thinking patterns and habits
  • Why we need to accept a certain degree of uncertainty and how to do that
  • What you can learn from uncomfortable emotions
  • How reading fiction books can increase your psychological flexibility
  • The shortcuts our brains try to take and how that can lead to rigid thinking
  • How to use social media to become more mentally agile
  • Why mindfulness isn’t always the best coping strategy

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

It’s important to have healthy coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions and difficult situations. But it’s helpful to think about those things in terms of a toolbox. 

Only some tools will work in some situations. Like a regular toolbox, the hammer works well when pounding a nail, but you’ll need the wrench to turn a bolt.

That’s why mindfulness is a great tool for some situations, but getting some exercise is the best tool for others. This episode explains how we can better recognize which tools are best for the specific situations we find ourselves in.

Quotes From Dr. Fox

Elaine Fox, PhD

It's crucial that we accept a degree of uncertainty [and] allow ourselves to feel it.

— Elaine Fox, PhD
  • "People who are quite anxious often have a strong belief that worrying is an effective solution. That's part of the problem. People will use worry as a way to solve a problem."
  • "Emotions are highly informative. So we need to learn and listen to those negative emotions."
  • "Emotions are often the signals that something in the world is not right or is right, whether it's a positive or a negative motion. And sometimes, we tend to ignore that."

More About the Podcast

The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you. 

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.