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5 Powerful Exercises To Increase Your Mental Strength

Use Your Mental Energy Wisely

Ruminating about things you can’t control drains mental energy quickly, leaving you less energy for what you can control. The more you practice expending your mental energy wisely, the more it will become a habit.

Save your mental energy for productive tasks, such as solving problems or setting goals. 

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5 Powerful Exercises To Increase Your Mental Strength

5 Powerful Exercises To Increase Your Mental Strength

https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/12/03/5-powerful-exercises-to-increase-your-mental-strength/

forbes.com

5

Key Ideas

Evaluate Your Core Beliefs

Over time we all develop core beliefs based on our experiences about ourselves and the world. Whether you’re aware of them or not, they influence your thoughts, behaviors and emotions.

Identify and evaluate your core beliefs to ensure yours aren’t inaccurate and unproductive, or even harmful. Look for beliefs that are black and white, and then find exceptions to the rule. 

Use Your Mental Energy Wisely

Ruminating about things you can’t control drains mental energy quickly, leaving you less energy for what you can control. The more you practice expending your mental energy wisely, the more it will become a habit.

Save your mental energy for productive tasks, such as solving problems or setting goals. 

Replace Negative Thoughts With Productive Ones

Exaggerated, negative thoughts, can spiral out of control and influence your behavior if you don’t catch them.

Replace overly negative thoughts with productive and realistic ones. Changing your thoughts requires constant monitoring, but the process can be instrumental in helping you become your best self.

Practice Tolerating Discomfort

Mental strength requires you to accept and be acutely aware of your emotions so you can respond better and consciously.

Mental strength also involves an understanding of when it makes sense to behave contrary to your emotions and enduring the discomfort that comes with it. Practice behaving like the person you’d like to become.

Reflect On Your Progress Daily

Developing mental strength is a work in progress. Reflecting upon your progress can reinforce your ability to reach your definition of success while living according to your values.

At the end of each day, ask yourself what you’ve learned about your thoughts, emotions and behavior. Consider what you hope to improve upon tomorrow.

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Write Everything Down

When you suddenly have an idea while you are in the middle of something else, write it down. It will clear your mind. It is a catch-all for the light bulb moments.

Financial Awareness

Know exactly where you spend your money. Create a system for tracking profit and loss, and returns on investment. 

De-clutter

De-clutter your work and living space. It encourages a de-cluttered mind.

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Managing Letdowns

Every athlete is bound to face at least a few major letdowns in his or her career. When this happens, you want to let yourself feel down for a good 24 to 48 hours. 

But afte...

Dealing With Uncertainty
  • Prevent it: Do what you can to minimize uncertainty by training like you want to race. 
  • Manage it: Develop a mantra or automatic actions to fall back when uncertainty strikes. 
  • Grow from it: View uncertainty as an opportunity to grow. Welcome it on the path to personal growth.

Turning Anxiety into Excitement

Pre-race nerves are common, even amongst professional athletes. 

Reframe nerves as excitement. When we do this, we harness heightened perception to raise ourselves up. 

Instead of telling yourself, “I’m anxious, I need to calm down,” tell yourself, “I am excited, my body is primed to perform.

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The three why’s

Before acting on a decision, ask yourself “Why?” Follow up your response with another “Why?” And then a third. 

If you can find three good reasons to pursue something, you’ll have clarit...

Expand your emotional vocabulary

Putting your feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on your brain; if you’re unable to articulate how you feel, that can create stress. 

Practice saying 'no' to yourself

The ability to say “no” to yourself to put off short-term gratification ( from daily temptations like social media or junk food) for the long-term gain is an important life-skill. 

Like a muscle, it is strengthened with exercise

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Habits define your energy levels
Habits define your energy levels

Tine is not the basis for productivity. Energy is.

Having all the time in the world won’t help you if you’re exhausted for most of it. Having good habits help in keeping yo...

Sleep is the foundation of our energy

Poor sleep means you will start to underperform.

Research says 7-8 hours are pretty much mandatory if you’re going to stay cognitively sharp in the long-run.

Napping benefits

Even if it may feel lazy, napping has a range of cognitive benefits.

This is particularly true if you’re doing a lot of learning since the short burst of sleep can help with memory.

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Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are found in fiber and starch and are beneficial for brain health as they release glucose slowly into our system, helping stabilize our mood. Simple carbohydr...

Antioxidants

Our cells generate energy through oxidation, but oxidation also reduces the dopamine and serotonin in the brain and creates oxidative stress.

Antioxidants found in brightly colored foods like fruits and vegetables act as a defense against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and body. Antioxidants also repair oxidative damage and scavenge free radicals that cause cell damage in the brain. 

Omega 3

Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are involved in the process of converting food into energy. They are important for the health of the brain and the communication of its feel-good chemicals dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.

Omega 3 are essential nutrients that are not readily produced by the body, so we must include foods high on it in our diet. 

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Recognize the signs
  • You're tired all the time. 
  • Cooperating with colleagues takes an enormous effort. 
  • You keep your office door shut and interact with your computer. 
  • ...
Take a mental health break

It's hard when you can't function as well as you're used to, but slogging on doesn't work when you're in a downward spiral. 

When you're at a crossroads in terms of your mental health, you need to really say, 'OK, I'm going to ask for five days off. That might mean the difference between me not having a mental health breakdown, or needing to take additional time off.

Find treatment
"Depression is no different from any other chronic condition," says Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. 

"To stay with it and maintain an independent and productive life -- it's important to identify it, get the appropriate treatment and then stick with that treatment." 

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Structure in times of chaos

Human suffering is often about freedom and constraint. We rebel against too much containment (“I need space!”) or if we have too much freedom, we feel lost in space. Fearful. (“Where did you go?...

Move

Our bodies need to stretch, reach, twist, bend, step, and sweat. It's not about staying in shape. It's about your immune health and mental health.

Build movement in your structure. Try for at least 20 minutes per day.

Nourish

You don't have to ban small treats. However, it is essential to set up a daily structure that fills you with nourishing healthy foods.

Make a dietary change, learn to meal prep, or teach your kids to cook.

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The paradox of resilience

To overcome adversity, you must rescue yourself first. Your mindset, not the event, defines if you will be ‘rescued’ or not.

Resilience is less about who you are and more about how you thi...

Resilience Principles
  • Challenge: Resilient people turn difficulty into a challenge. They don't fight against reality, they confront it. 
  • Commitment: Having something to fight for gives you extra motivation. 
  • Self-Control: Free will is the realization that you own your actions and control your reactions. 
Build a First Responder Mindset
  • Reframe your thoughts about reality: You can’t control reality, but you can manage how you adapt to it.
  • Prepare for the worst: You can’t train to deal with every possible situation, but you can prepare your mind to adapt to unexpected ones.
  • Create alternative paths: Creativity plays a critical role in overcoming adversity.
  • Leverage the power of relationships: Rescuing yourself from adversity starts with you but strong relationships are critical for bouncing back.
  • Mind your spirit: Religious and spiritual support bring us comfort during adversity.
Anxiety is rewarding

Each time we worry and nothing bad happens, our mind connects worry with preventing harm:

Worry → nothing bad happens.

And the takeaway is, "It's a good thing I worried."&nbs...

Beliefs about worry
  • If I worry, I'll never have a bad surprise.
  • It's safer if I worry. We believe that the act of worrying itself somehow lowers the likelihood of a dreaded outcome. 
  • I show I care by worrying. We need to distinguish between caring about a situation and worrying needlessly and fruitlessly about it. 
  • Worrying motivates me. We need to differentiate between unproductive worry and productive concern and problem solving.
  • Worrying helps me solve problems. Extreme worry is more likely to interfere with problem-solving. 
Tools to assist us with worry
  • Calm the nervous system with guided muscle relaxation, meditation, and exercise. 
  • Notice when you're worrying and any beliefs that reinforce worry.  Awareness of the process gives us more choice in how we respond.
  • Embrace uncertainty. Most of the things we care about in life involve uncertainty. It takes considerable practice to begin to embrace it.
  • Live in the present. Practice focusing your attention on the present in everyday activities like taking a shower, walking, or talking with a friend, as well as in more formal practices like meditation or yoga.
  • When we face our fears head-on, they tend to diminish. Deliberately accept what you're afraid of: "It's possible I'll miss my flight." 
Control stimuli

Acting independently begins with what you let into your mind—meaning what comes in from your environment. If you are lacking agency, it’s likely your attention is being hijacked and you need to fig...

Associate selectively

It’s impossible not to be affected by those around us—it’s easy to “catch” their emotions and our brains tend to synch up when we associate with other people. 

We should set boundaries with difficult people, disentangle yourself from negative online interactions, and be more conscious of how you might be vulnerable to “groupthink”—pressures to behave or think in ways that are contrary to your values.

Move

Physical movement can lead to greater self-control—the ability to defer gratification.

If you’re in deep at work, set a timer to go off every hour and remind yourself to take a moment to assess your mood. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, get up and move. And, if you’re having any issues at work, discussing them in a walking meeting (instead of a sitting meeting) may help mitigate conflicts.

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