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.
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.
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.
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.
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.