Increase your mental strength in 5 not-so-easy steps

Jim Brown and Dick Butkus epitomized mental toughness

Check out 5 steps to improving mental strength

Mental strength is not just about demonstrating will power. It’s getting a firm grip on emotions, thoughts and behavior despite the circumstances. It’s about courage, living values and creating a brand of success. It’s about working hard and being committed to values. It’s about practicing healthy habits when it’s easier to be a couch potato and eat potato chips at the same time.

The natural tendency is to want to develop mental strength the easiest way possible, but the honest truth is that mental strength is most often forged in the crucible of tragedy and disappointment.

USA Football - Increase mental strength-Lewis-2

Here are five exercises that will help shape your mental strength muscle.

  1. Don’t waste it. Mental strength is a valuable commodity so it’s a waste of time to spend it on people or things that can’t be controlled. When you’re in the final seconds of a game, and you clearly see your team will not win, don’t waste valuable mental resources wondering how it could be different. Worrying about the weather does not prevent it from happening. Trying to control people and circumstances will leave you drained. Focus instead on what you can control. Use mental energy to solve significant problems or to set goals.
  2. Believe what you believe. Core beliefs about yourself, your life and the world around you aren’t built in a day. Beliefs are developed over the years and depend on experiences. Since beliefs influence thoughts, emotions and behavior, make sure to hold fast to what you believe in. Take time to ponder what your core beliefs are, and once you’re set in what they are, stick to them no matter what. Don’t be swayed by what others say and do. Some core beliefs include honesty, integrity, hard work and treating people with kindness. Live them every day of your life. The mental strength that results will carry you through both good and bad times.
  3. Don’t allow predators on your real estate. Your mind and body are personal real estate. Protecting both develops mental strength as you only allow positive, uplifting people on your land. Predators, naysayers and negative people will attempt to run past the gate and dwell in your mind. You have the choice to let them in or keep them out. If you find someone taking up space in your brain real estate, kick them out. Evict them. Mental strength and mental predators cannot co-exist.
  4. Keep emotions in check. We all have a dominant emotion that takes over in challenging circumstances. It might be anger, anguish, fear or frustration. Keeping emotions in check keeps mental strength regulated so we don’t become reactionary when emergency situations arise. Mental strength is disciplining the brain to think rationally. Sometimes it means taking a quick step back to gather yourself before tackling the situation. A person with out of control emotions is no help to anyone. Breathe. Count. Focus on tangible objects. Mental strength is forged through emotional control.
  5. Reflect and relax. We are not conditioned nowadays to just be quiet and reflect on the progress we’re making. More than all the others, this exercise needs to become a vital part of a training regimen. Start with just a couple of minutes, then expand to 15 to 30 minutes. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What are three things I did yesterday that energized me. An achievement? Helped someone? Thankful for an expected blessing?
  • How will I recognize, honor and celebrate who I am and the talents I bring to myself, my family or my team?
  • How do I offer myself unconditional support so I can thrive in mind and body?
  • What do I want to improve or change about myself so I can be better tomorrow?

Mental strength belongs to those who take the time to reflect and relax. Make it a daily habit.

If you feel that your mental health could benefit from additional support from a licensed professional, click here.

Link to original article in USA Football.

Michelle Hill, the Strong Copy Quarterback at Winning Proof, is a sports and fitness content writer. She writes championship content for pro athletes, coaches, sports agents, sports psychologists, fitness professionals and transformation/success