Mental strength and emotional resilience are how effectively you can deal with challenges, adversities or setbacks you face throughout life. Sometimes, mental strength and mental health are used interchangeably, but while they are similar, they are two distinct concepts.
Mental Health vs. Mental Strength
Someone who has an underlying mental health condition can still be mentally strong. However, someone with no history of mental illness can still find it challenging to maintain or improve their emotional toughness. These concepts play a role in determining your overall level of cognitive fitness.
Try comparing mental and physical strength. It’s always good to be and feel strong, but this looks different for everybody. The same goes for mental toughness. Two people could face and handle the same obstacle differently because they have varying degrees of emotional fortitude.
How to Practice Mental Strength
Suppose you’re trying to build your biceps. In that case, you know it’s crucial to perform weightlifting exercises targeting those muscles. The same goes for your brain. If you’re trying to build your mental strength, you must put it through some activities to practice resilience.
Here are some ways to practice mental strength to overcome setbacks in your life.
1. Identify Instances of Overthinking
Overthinking is extremely common, but it’s a tendency you want to avoid as much as possible. People who overthink often makeup scenarios or stories they tell themselves, which are often not based on facts or in reality.
Instead of succumbing to these false assumptions, try using coping strategies such as journaling, venting to a friend about your thoughts or feelings, and seeking professional help if necessary.
2. Be Self-Compassionate
People are far harder on themselves than others are — we tend to be our harshest critics. However, you won’t be able to build your mental toughness if you’re not compassionate with yourself.
You’ll face ups and downs on this journey, but that’s normal. Embrace the mistakes and challenges you face. Instead of dwelling on them, turn them into learning moments and determine how you can do better next time. This is how you strengthen your mental resilience. When future setbacks arise, you’ll feel more prepared to take them on and overcome them more quickly.
3. Work on Mindfulness
Mindfulness is active and open attention to the present moment. Instead of focusing on the past or future, you stay completely focused on the present, including how you feel, your current thoughts, what sensations you experience and more.
Practicing mindfulness through meditation is a great way to build mental strength and emotional resilience. You can start by performing a five- to 10-minute meditation, slowly increasing the time each day or week. Consider engaging in focused attention meditation (FAM), a great option for beginners.
4. Focus on Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is challenging these days, but it is possible. One of the best ways to strengthen your mental toughness is to improve your self-discipline.
Try eating nutritious foods, meal prepping, hitting the gym weekly, and prioritizing your needs and wants. You’ll naturally increase your mental strength and adaptability if you can improve your lifestyle. Reaching these goals builds your confidence, which adds to your mental stability and strength.
Why Bother Improving Your Mental Strength?
People face all types of obstacles in life. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what setbacks will arise or impact you.
For example, Olympic athlete Oscar Figueroa once suffered from ongoing back pain. When he experienced this challenge, he had the mental strength to undergo a Disc-FX procedure to fix his back. After his recovery, Figueroa won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. His story highlights the importance of mental strength and how it can play a major role in your success.
Spending time improving your mental strength may not leave you with a gold medal, but it can have several positive effects on your life, such as:
- Lower stress levels
- Heightened intrinsic motivation
- Improved confidence
- Better emotional regulation
- Enhanced adaptability
These are just some benefits building up your mental strength can offer. Additionally, maintaining mental strength can help reduce the fear of failure you may experience when working toward your goals.
It’s common for people to feel nervous or scared when working toward a goal, but knowing you’re mentally strong can help you overcome fear and give you the confidence you need to reach your goal.
Overcoming Setbacks Using Your Mental Toughness
Everyone faces setbacks throughout their lives. However, overcoming them is more than possible if you have a positive attitude and are mentally strong. Anyone can improve their emotional strength if they implement some of these practices.
Improve your mental strength by remembering these key tips: identify overthinking when it happens, show yourself compassion and kindness, practice mindfulness daily, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Your emotional resilience will improve and you will boost your self-esteem, making you better able to handle any setback that comes your way.