Wanting to give people the tools to deal with the unprecedented challenges they’re facing, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group recently debuted its Inner Strength — Outer Strength initiative across all of its spas worldwide. The program is designed to help guests to use this time of disruption to incorporate positive changes in their lives and build strength both physically and mentally. “The adversity of 2020 has led all of us to re-prioritize personal wellness,” says Jeremy McCarthy, group director of spa and wellness. “Developing our reserves of strength during times of uncertainty is crucial to avoid illness, manage stress, and be better able to support others. Entering 2021 with hopes for a brighter future ahead, we are proud to offer our new Inner Strength — Outer Strength initiative, delivered by our diverse teams of wellness experts, massage therapists, fitness trainers, and meditation teachers from across our spas.”
Customized to the needs of each individual, the program also includes a series of virtual assessments and tip sheets that have been developed to help determine what areas may need work. The courses’ three core areas focus on physical strength (vitality), mental strength (mindfulness), and character strength (authenticity). Here, we chat with McCarthy about how the program was created, what it involves, and how to deal with the uncertainty that seems so prevalent these days.
What prompted the Inner Strength – Outer Strength initiative?
This began as an initiative for our hotel colleagues. Our industry has been massively impacted by the pandemic, leading to unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty for hospitality employees around the world. We wanted our colleagues to use this period of disruption as a chance to work on developing themselves. We recognized that they needed “Outer Strength” or physical vitality in order to remain resilient to illness during this health crisis. But they also needed “Inner Strength” to help them stay strong mentally to better confront the challenges we have all been facing. Because the pandemic is a global phenomenon that has impacted everyone in some way, once we had our colleagues taken care of, we wanted to also do something for our guests.
How did you go about creating the inner and outer strength assessments?
My professional background comes from fitness, and my academic background comes from psychology, so over the years I have seen many different assessments of different aspects of wellbeing. But I couldn’t find any assessment that looked holistically across the many dimensions of both inner and outer strength. I wanted to create an assessment that would help people to reflect on all the ways that we can build strength, and to consider which are the areas they do or do not practice in their own lifestyle. The assessment then guides people to additional tips and resources for the areas they are most interested in developing.
What role do the categories play in developing inner and outer strength?
Strength is multi-dimensional. So, it is helpful to not think of strength in the singular, but rather to consider the variety of attributes that help us to be strong. In outer strength, this consists of things like muscular strength, mobility, power, breath, and endurance. Our inner strength is made up of things like mindfulness, character, gratitude, willpower, and resilience. We become stronger not by just focusing on one area but by developing “strengths stacks” that put multiple dimensions of strength on top of one another.
What is an example of one of the tips that you provide?
One example is to develop our strength of “power” by participating in competitive sports. Too many people think of exercise as just grinding away on a treadmill or counting reps on a weight machine. When we incorporate play into our training, the competitive aspect pushes us to develop many dimensions of physical and mental strength simultaneously. Not to mention it’s more fun and incorporates a community aspect that is much needed after this time of isolation.
What advice do you have for people struggling amid this uncertain time?
It is easy to lose a sense of hope when confronting so much uncertainty and powerlessness against forces beyond our control. But people are at their most resilient when they are able to accept the difficult reality of their situation while still committing to positive actions that they can take to improve the future. When we are uncertain or don’t know how to solve our problems, we can always focus on making ourselves stronger. Making ourselves stronger makes us less susceptible to challenges that may yet arise, and when we do become clear about what actions to take for a better future, we are ready to move them forward powerfully and decisively.