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20 Small Habits To Build To Become Mentally Stronger This Year

20 Small Habits To Build To Become Mentally Stronger This Year

Everyone wants to start out 2016 strong, but it’s finishing strong that’s also important. Many resolutions and goals are never reached because we get caught up in what’s happening in our life, and because we haven’t developed the mental strength to keep ourselves going when the momentum from the New Year wears off.

However, a lot of getting yourself to your goals and surpassing them is about being mentally strong for when those hard moments hits. Discipline is developed, so it will power the continual ability to make great choices toward what you want. Remember, not to sacrifice what you really want for some pleasure now.

However, being mentally stronger doesn’t mean it has to be a tough grind, here are a few tips and tricks which can help you. Just like if you want to be stronger physically you have to do exercises to keep the muscles strong, do build mental strength you have to do exercises to help build those habits and beliefs.

One of the best ways to build mental strength is to find habits and small tips throughout the day to keep your energy high, mind-set positive, and help develop habits and skills which will help move you forward and keep you feeling good about what you’re doing. Meanwhile, you’re building mental strength in a way which won’t leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Set yourself up for a mentally stronger and happier 2016 by applying a few of these tips.

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1. Make your bed

You’re already accomplishing things and getting off to a great start when you make your bed first thing in the morning.  Remember the saying, “The state of your bed is the state of your head?” There is plenty of truth to it. While it may seem like a small step, it has huge benefits. Research shows people who make their beds daily are overall happier with their lives, more productive, and have a stronger sense of pride and accomplishment in their day for all the tasks they do. This one little thing gets you in the habit of finishing projects right away in the morning. One task down before you’ve even brushed your teeth, what a great feeling!

2. Say nice things to yourself daily

This year, make a commitment to cut down on the negative self-talk and pump up the nice things you say to yourself. You may feel ridiculous at first as you become your own cheerleader in your head, but think about how great you’ll feel as you make stronger and stronger decisions about your life. Those same decisions are what will keep you moving toward your goal. Be mindful, negative thoughts can sneak their way in really quickly, when you catch them, just recognize them as untrue (even if you have to say it out loud) and replace them with a positive thought.

3. Write down something great about each day

You can keep it in a jar, a journal, a shoe box, or wherever you want, but write down something great about each day. Not only does this help create gratitude in your life, but at the end of the year you’ll be able to sit down and look back at the positive things you experience and accomplished, instead of the challenges or rough patches which made you want to give up.

4. Write down the positive aspects of every challenge

Life is a lot about perspective. Change your perspective and you can change your life. Instead of griping and being angry or disappointed (indulging in negative self-talk) concerning any challenges which may come up, build up your positive mental strength by writing down positive aspects and things you could be learning from the challenges. See if you can’t find something to be grateful about every day.

5. Practice mindful happiness while commuting

Mindfulness is about being in the moment. To get comfortable with being happy, practicing being mindfully happy. Take an event or moment or memory when you are feeling good and let yourself indulge in the feeling. Look at how it sits in your body. How your thoughts change. How your body changes. What it feels like. If there are any colors which it may feel like. Spend some time with your happy mood. At the end of it, notice the feeling of happiness and joy, it comes from you, and it spontaneously shows up when you are in mindfully in the moment.

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6. Practice being your own best friend daily

This is a great way to become mentally stronger, because it teaches us to rely on ourselves, and not need others to pick us up, because we can do it ourselves. Next time something isn’t going quite as planned, or you start to insult or criticize yourself, pause and ask, “Would I let my best friend treat me this way?” or “Would I treat my best friend this way?” The answer is probably no, and it’s a great idea to love yourself as much, if not more, than you love your best friend.

7. Practice saying “no” without explanation

As a society we’ve decided somewhere along the lines we have to have a reason for saying no, and not wanting to do something isn’t a good enough reason. If you find yourself in that’s line of thinking, then throw it out. Learn to say no. You don’t have to explain your actions or validate your decisions to anyone about why you don’t want to do something.

8. Practice 20 minutes of self-care daily

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, but if you don’t take some time to really deeply care for yourself, you’ll eventually run your well dry and not be able to love and care for those around you. Self-care can be something as complex as having a manicure or spa day, or as simple as locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes just to have some alone time. It doesn’t matter what it is, make sure you create some space and/or activities which leave you feeling full and happy.

9. Do a hobby or activity daily which brings you joy

This is a great form of self-care. This year see if you can’t find a hobby or activity which you enjoy just because it makes you feel better. As you become more confident and competent at it, you’ll discover how confidence and self-belief will pool over into other areas of your life. The positive talk you use and the joy you find in your hobby will help make you mentally stronger as you tackle the harder aspects of your chosen goal.

10. Set a goal to practice more gratitude and less complaining

Getting caught up in the cycle of complaining can make you hard to be around, but it also can take quite a toll on your mental health. Instead of just endless complaining about a situation, try and find something to be grateful about.

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11. Set a goal for at least 8 hours of sleep a night

This is huge! You’ve seen small children lose their mind when they are too tired, adults are the same way, only we don’t usually end up eventually passed out in the middle of our dinner plate. When you’re too tired you make poor decisions, your mental strength goes down, your rational mind turns into a 6-year-old’s, and your body responds by upping stress hormones. Make sleep a priority this year to help you stay mentally strong. A minimum of eight hours is essential, if you’re any type of athlete, more is important. If you’re stressed make sure you are giving yourself sufficient time to rest and relax before going to sleep in order to allow your body to maximize the sleeping hours.

12. Set a goal to eat clean food daily

New research is showing the link between your gut health and your mood, and one of the things which directly relates to your gut health is the food you put in your body. By reducing inflammatory food such as any food allergies, grains, dairy, and alcohol you can reduce the stress on your digestive system. A healthier digestive system means less sick days, more energy, and can also improve symptoms of depressions and anxiety. Try to shop the outside edge of the grocery story and eat only food you make. Google clean eating recipes and experiment one or two nights a week.

13. Cut your social media time in half

We tend to put our best foot forward on social media, and this can end up with us trying to compare our lives to the highlights reel of another person’s life. Doing so can leave you feeling awful and discontent about where you are in life and the great things you’ve accomplished, it can also cause you to forget how many great lives you touch throughout the day by being the amazing person you are. Half you social media time and spend the time reconnecting with people you love, reading a book, or practicing the hobby you do or the joy of it. Whatever you decided to fill the time with, make sure it’s something which lifts you up.

14. Put up at least three inspirational/motivational quotes to read daily

When things get tough and you feel like you’re not making progress, uplifting words can go a long ways toward keeping you on track. Take the time to post a few inspiring and motivational quotes or pictures (maybe even a vision board) somewhere you’ll see it every day. Words of encouragement and motivation can go a long when you’re in a bad place.

15. Visualize your goals for 10 minutes daily

Take the time to visualize the end result of your goals, but also the challenges you’ll over-come in between. Practice visualizing how you’re going to problem solve possible things which could go wrong and coming out on top. See yourself where you want to be, and feel how great it feels to accomplish your goals.

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16. Let go of your people pleasing tendencies

In an effort to be a  good person we often over-extend ourselves and commit to things we really don’t want to do. Embrace the fact you can’t please everyone and let go of the need to let others’ happiness and goals overrule what’s best for you, your health, and your happiness.

17. Set a monthly budget which includes something fun

These don’t have to be big, but something fun. Maybe a shirt, a movie, or a new candle, a favorite bubble bath, or lotion. Something you don’t normally let yourself reach for, something which will make you smile and feel wonderful when you come into contact with it. Whether it’s lighting your new candle, soaking in a tub with your favorite bubble bath, let yourself enjoy a small splurge every month or few weeks.

18. Stop indulging in relationships or activities which drain you of energy.

Go where you’re celebrated. Do things which leave you feeling joyful. This year make yourself mentally stronger by building positive relationships and letting go of toxic ones. This doesn’t mean letting go of toxic relationships or places will be easy, it just means you’re going to make a commitment to being stronger. Without the mental and emotional drain you’ll find more energy and more happiness throughout your day.

19. Cut the word should from your vocabulary

Think about when the last time you thought you should do something. Wasn’t exactly a fun and exciting thought was it? Should usually comes with the feelings of obligation and heavy responsibility, and rarely a feeling of joy.  Should has a tendency to come with self-criticism and harsh judgement, neither of which support the foundation you’re building this year to become mentally stronger. Instead of using should, re-phrase your sentence into something you look forward to doing. I would like to be mentally stronger. I would like to be physically healthier.

20. Journal for three pages or five minutes morning and/or night

If you choose the time in the morning use it at a chance to write about your dreams, dump all your worries or concerns on the page, to creatively express anything which may have worried you the nigh before. It’s also a great way to write down your goals and inspirations for the day, get a feeling for what you want to see happen and an action plan. If choose to do the night use it to unwind about all the things which may have stressed you out, and to congratulate yourself on all the things you did right.

No matter what approach you take this year, remember with consistent, positive practice you can strengthen your mental muscles and over time you’ll become mentally stronger.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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