Mental strength is a skill set that helps to ensure that when things are not going our way, we don’t shy away from physically and emotionally demanding situations. It helps us from avoiding action because we can’t cope with our emotions. In short, it is the capacity to survive tough circumstances, such as the one we are all facing currently, and there are plenty of exercises to do, both for yourself and your family, to improve it.
1. Taking Cold Showers
There is a correlation between mental toughness with the capacity, psychologically or physically, to withstand being uncomfortable. Starting or finishing the day with a cold shower every day is a quick way of immersing yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
When we take cold showers, we improve our endocrine activity and lymphatic circulation; this improves the immune system, and blood circulation. The cold shower provides the capillaries with blood, strengthens the nervous system and develops mental toughness.
Stepping into an ice-cold shower is not easy. But it will not only provide regular physical and mental resilience training for those up to the challenge but will give you a boost of endorphins and motivation for the day.
2. Delay food intake for Few Minutes When You’re Hungry
Another simple tactic to create tolerance (and impulse control) for being uncomfortable is to encourage yourself to experience hunger pangs without catching a snack.
Tolerating an additional five-to-10 minutes of hunger creates patience and this increases your tolerance for being uncomfortable. If you can do this task successfully, you will be able to tolerate more difficult challenges.
3. Do the Thing You Don’t Want to Do (for 10 Minutes)
When you just don’t feel like performing a particular task like tackling a report, remind yourself that you only have to do it for 10 minutes. Starting something you don’t want to do teaches your brain to realize that you don’t have to act on how you feel, just because you don’t feel like doing something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You’re stronger than you think. Even when you’re not inspired, you can take action. This approach is also transferrable to situations that include taking on more critical challenges. Always reply with, “Challenge accepted,” when your brain wants to talk you out of doing something . Your brain underestimates you, so you must start challenging your brain to start seeing you as capable and professional when you accomplish something that you felt you couldn’t do.
4. Work Out Without TV or Music
Working out is a perfect way to improve your physical and mental ability. But you’re distracting yourself and restricting the ability to learn and develop a tolerance for being uncomfortable when you do it while listening to music or watching TV. By turning off the music and paying more attention to your breath and physical emotions, you become more aware of your discomfort. Working without distraction maximizes your ability to improve your grit.
5. Confront Your Thoughts
When you feel frustrated, nervous, sad, or afraid; take time to note your physical feeling, is there tightness in your chest or butterflies or is your jaw clenched? So not avoid what you are feeling by looking for distractions, your phone or grabbing some food. Fight that impulse, whatever feeling you notice, go into that feeling. Forget the feelings floating around you and if they are vague, don’t try to find out what emotions you have. Only go with the sensation of physicality and feel it. For a few minutes, stick with the physical sensation. Then focus on that negative feeling and embrace the pain, when you truly conquer your emotions, you will be able to mentally power through difficult situations
6. Name your feelings
It’s hard to give your emotions a name. When you’re anxious or depressed, it may also be hard to confess this state of mind to yourself. Yet research shows that it takes the sting out if you mark the feelings. So make it a point to check in a few times a day and ask yourself how you are feeling. If you can give the emotion or the mix of emotions a name, you’ll feel stronger. Using pen and paper to take notes on your phone or type them down. You can use the word list of emotions to help you describe what you feel. Connecting with how you feel is important, otherwise, you won’t know how your feelings affect your choices. You can take big risks when you’re angry or humiliated, which you don’t necessarily need to take.
7. Breathe Deeply
Deep breathing is critical for developing mental toughness, whether as part of structured meditation or on an as-needed basis. It helps you to better control your feelings, emotions when the going gets tough. Deep breathing helps reduce the levels of cortisol that block your cognition in the brain and body, allowing you to decompress. Hyperventilating will make you feel worse while deep slow breathing calms you down, lowering your cortisol and adrenaline. Breathing makes the stress response work for you and not against you, preparing you for positive action.
8. Talk to someone
There is a major difference between being strong and acting tough. Acting tough is about pretending that there are no issues with you. Being strong involves admitting that you don’t have all the answers’ to your problems. Although it can feel awkward, it will help you improve mental resilience and become stronger by talking to others. Make a deliberate effort to reach out and speak to your friends and family. A close friend or family member can offer you a different perspective on what you may see as an insolvable situation
9. Practice Gratitude
Studies show that grateful individuals enjoy a host of benefits, such as an immunity boost, improved sleep quality and increasing mental strength. Make it a point to look for things that you can be grateful for every day and increase your mental muscle.
10. Admit your mistakes
The default position of most people is to disassociate themselves with their shortcomings, yet mentally tough people tend to admit to their failures. Many people try (unsuccessfully) to defend their mistakes instead of owning these mistakes. This just digs a deeper hole and contributes to a loss in faith and ultimately their relationships reach unresolvable levels of degradation. Mentally tough people take full responsibility for their decisions instead of being too embarrassed to admit they’re wrong. The admission of your errors frees you from shame and helps you move on.