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Why You Don’t Have To Aim At Being Mentally Strong

Why You Don’t Have To Aim At Being Mentally Strong

I was mindlessly playing Madden 25 and listening to music when I heard a unique line come bursting through my headphones, “Nothing wrong with not being strong. Nothing says we have to beat what’s wrong.” There I was, a young 21 year old just over indulging in video games during holiday break at college and that line (and song and album) left me dumbfounded.

For a length of unknown time — probably my whole life — people had been explaining to me that I had to be mentally strong and if anything, pretend that I was not whatever I was. What was I? A bit anxious and depressive, yet working through it. What was I portraying? Nothing is wrong, don’t ask, and I am a normal human being. However, thanks to a man by the stage name of El-P, my mental strength was able to grow without forcing myself to have to be mentally strong.

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It’s like this: if an individual is too short to dunk in basketball, why shape them into a player that would try and dunk? Of course, they will need to work with their own set of individual skills that they have to improve their game and make them a force to be reckoned with. That might not be the best analogy, but the mind kind of works in the same light. If you are not mentally strong (don’t worry I am not either) then do not force yourself to pretend to be for the sake of someone else’s words around you. There is no fun in pretending to be someone else, and there is no worthwhile value in that. It is more beneficial to learn how to work with your own mind, specifically.

Let’s say you have the gift (and curse) of having a rather anxious mind. You quickly jump to the worst case scenario and constrict yourself in social situations. You start feeling the collapse in your lungs whenever crowds of people are around, even if they are just passing. It’s okay to be overwhelmed if you have these issues, trying to force yourself to be strong might cause your mind to overreact and turn in on itself. Instead, work with it. If you need to step away for a bit and find personal solace, do it. If you feel the need to mindlessly scroll through social media just to calm the nerves? Sure, it’s an option.

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It’s important to establish a safety net to catch yourself when you are let down or hampered by your will power not being strong enough. Maybe you can message an individual a wordy explanation as to what is happening in your head. You may be showcasing that you are not mentally strong and leaving yourself vulnerable, but if you have already accepted that than your friends will as well. They will work with you without judgement and you shouldn’t have to worry about what they think.

Figuring out how to portray your own mind might sound difficult, but in reality, forcing yourself to live your life as a character is rather tough as well. It’s cold and vitriolic and you will find yourself alienated from the true you, which is worse than having to accept the way your mind is, so it’s safer to collect your presence and share it with the world.

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Last fall, I decided to stop this macho performance I had been putting on display and instead really center myself around my emotional out-pour and start accepting my mind for what it was. I was there, in the mental ditch, after pretending to be strong for so long. It’s like when you are on a long drive and people recommend you to pull over and find a rest area for a bit if you need to. There’s no need to put yourself in a more dangerous arena by attempting to drive when you are weak.

There was a third bit to that lyric from earlier that I saved because I thought it would help wrap my ideas into a nice bow to end this article. “Nothing manmade remains made long.” Think about it, the world around us is not as permanent as we think. Things rot, structure-wise, decaying over the years, so within this world it’s more important if you are out there finding your value and accepting yourself for what you are.

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Make your mark on the world, and maybe a mentally strong mind will not be an issue anymore. I know my head well enough to have forgotten that and instead focus on pursuing what my heart and mind are passionate about.

Featured photo credit: greyerbaby via cdn.morguefile.com

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

“Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

1. Make a Gratitude List

In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

2. Write in a Journal

Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

3. Meditate

Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

4. Do Child’s Pose

Yoga Outlet says:

“Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

     

    Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

    5. Try Positive Self-Talk

    Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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    When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

    Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

    When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

    When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

    Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

    6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

    Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

    You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

    It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

    Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

    If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

    7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

    “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

    If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

    You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

    When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

    If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

    Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

    Final Thoughts

    If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

    Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

    You can invest in yourself via self-care.

    You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

    More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

    Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

    Reference

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