Everyone has the capacity to become mentally stronger, and we all have room for improvement. Just like going to the gym a few times won’t make you physically strong, developing your mental muscle is a process. Mental strength takes years to build and a lifetime to maintain. Why does mental strength even matter? While it takes dedication and commitment to build a stronger mind, you’ll reap plenty of rewards for your efforts:
- Enhanced performance. Increased mental strength is the key to performing at your peak. Mental strength helps you manage your thoughts and regulate your emotions. That means you can be more productive by focusing your effort and energy on the things that matter most.
- Greater life satisfaction. Building mental strength will help you gain self-acceptance while still striving for self-improvement. And as your mental strength increases, you’ll feel more confident in the decisions you make.
- Increased resilience. You can’t control a lot of things that happen to you in life but you can control how your respond to hardship. When you feel mentally strong, you’ll be able to rise to whatever challenge you face and better manage everyday stress, too.
You can enhance your mental strength through the simple everyday choices you make. Try these strategies for building a stronger mind and better life:
- Spend time in nature. Whether you go for a walk in the woods or you eat a picnic in a park, time in nature could be key to building a strong mind. A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Stanford found that a walk in the woods can reduce the risk of depression, and other research has found that people living in rural areas have a 20 percent lower risk of anxiety compared to those living in urban areas. Nature also reduces mental fatigue. It offers a calming effect because it requires less mental attention than busy urban streets. So a quick walk in the park on your lunch break or a stroll through the garden on the weekend could offer the mental rejuvenation you need to stay focused when you’re tackling a tough project.
- Practice mindfulness. Rehashing something that happened yesterday or predicting horrible things could happen next week holds you back. The only time you can change your behavior is right now, so it’s important to be able to focus on the present. A multitude of studies have found that mindfulness provides physical and psychological benefits. Reduced stress and a more compassionate inner dialogue are among the many ways mindfulness can help you build mental strength. Take time to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Notice the sounds, sights, and smells. Do a quick scan of your body and pay attention to how it feels. With regular practice, you’ll be able to savor each moment because you won’t be distracted by yesterday’s problems and tomorrow’s worries.
- Nix the bad habits that rob you of mental strength. Feeling sorry for yourself, wasting time and energy on things you can’t control, and resenting other people’s success are just a few of the bad habits that could wreak havoc on your mental workouts. Giving up those unhealthy habits will help you work smarter.
Your mind can be your greatest asset or your worst enemy. When you learn how to train it well, you can accomplish incredible feats. And remember, your mind is yours alone to cultivate. Peace, love, joy, kindness, positivity, empathy, service, and self-care are some of our favorite mental crops. In the garden of your mind, what will you choose to plant?
Need some guidance in learning to flex your mental muscle? We can help! Reach out to us anytime.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center. For help call 877-674-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.