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Published on February 6, 2019

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

When life knocks you down and leaves you feeling battered and bruised, how do you help yourself get back into the game?

The natural reaction is to spiral into panic and worry. Let’s face it, a knockdown can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.

I think we can all agree that life can be a roller coaster ride at times. The way that I see it is that you can either scream your way through it or strap yourself in and move with the mess.

I believe that the core difference between those who thrive through life, versus those who fall apart at the first sign of struggle, is their mental strength.

Mental strength refers to the resilience and strength that people possess to soldier through struggles and succeed.[1] It is the secret sauce that allows you to push past exhaustion when everything in your body says just quit, but your mind refuses to give up.

The Importance of Advancing Your Mental Strength?

Mentally strong people decide from day one that they will not allow their circumstances to define or destroy them. When something doesn’t go their way, they don’t curl up in a ball and give up.

Instead, they stand back up, wipe away their tears, and use the challenges as opportunities to prove to themselves and the world that they can overcome anything and everything.

I’ve got great news. Mental strength isn’t a superhuman trait. Instead, it’s something that you can develop and master, through trial and error. I believe that all of us have the capacity to conquer life’s greatest challenges.

Take a moment and think back to a challenge that you had to overcome. What traits did you have to pull upon in order to get through that difficult time?

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for how far we’ve come, and what it took for us to get to where we are today. I’ve faced countless setbacks in my life, one of which was a car accident that almost left me paralyzed.

At the time, it’s fair to say that being “positive pam” wasn’t on the top of my list. There were countless times when I just wanted to give up, but I didn’t. That’s all that matters.

I was committed to doing whatever was required of me in order to come back stronger than ever before.

Let’s face it… life doesn’t always like your plans.

Sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches. When life hits you, why not hit back harder? You’ve got nothing to lose by trying. By no means do I have it all figured out. None of us do.

However, I do know that the tough times have made me a stronger and more resilient human being. The train wreck moments when my life felt as if it was falling apart proved to be signs that better things were actually falling back together.

Why Is Mental Strength Hard to Achieve?

Your mind is a powerful tool. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Here’s the kicker… we all have that voice inside of our heads, otherwise known as your inner critic.

Rather than empathize with you, this voice basks in the enjoyment of beating you down and trying to convince you that you are not the CEO of your life.

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You aren’t strong enough

You’re messed up.

You can’t get through this.

You aren’t worthy of happiness.

Unfortunately, a lot of people allow this voice to dim their light and dictate every decision in their life. The bottom line is that your inner critic robs you of your mental strength. However, it’s important to not silence this voice without understanding where it comes from.

A lot of people fall into the trap of assuming that, because they are thinking awful things about themselves, they must be true. Right? Wrong.

In actuality, your inner critic is your inner child. Psychologists believe these voices are residues of childhood experiences. We become so used to living in accordance with these narratives that we don’t even notice or question them.[2]

Ironically, your inner critic just wants to help you. Talk about mind games at their finest! I want to propose a different perspective. Instead of fighting with this critical voice, what would happen if you reframed the intention behind it?

Help yourself by transforming your inner critic into your inner coach. Whereas a critic knocks you down, a coach challenges you to find solutions and gives you the confidence to face new obstacles with courage, grace, and determination.

For example, you could say out loud to yourself, “Critic, thanks for trying so hard to keep me safe but it’s time for you to step aside now. I’ve got this.”

The beauty of life is that, at any given moment, you have the power to rewrite your story and unleash the strength that has always been a part of you.

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

So, where do we go from here?

Well, I want you to think of your mind as if it were a muscle. Just like you go to the gym and work at building your physical strength, you’ve got to commit to flexing your mental muscle as well.

At the end of the day, success is a mindset game. As Tony Robbins says,

“80 percent of success is due to psychology—mindset, beliefs, and emotions—and only 20 percent is due to strategy—the specific steps needed to accomplish a result.”

Whether your goal is to become a professional athlete, overcome an injury, or be a more emotionally resilient person, mental strength is the ticket that will help you get there.

Let’s explore 5 ways that you can help yourself advance your mental strength.

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1. Develop Unshakeable Confidence

Nobody is born with unshakeable confidence. Anybody that you’ve come across who possesses this trait has it because they have worked tirelessly to build it.

When life knocks you down, it can take your confidence plummeting with it. If you don’t believe in your ability to overcome the odds that are stacked against you, you will give up at the first sign of failure.

As Maxwell Maltz once said,

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”

Mental strength is the thing that allows you to take the hit and bounce forward so that even though you are bruised, you are not defeated.

Anyone can strengthen their confidence muscle. The question is, “How do you practice being confident when you don’t feel like you have anything to be confident about?”

All of us experience self-doubt at some point in our lives. However, successful people don’t allow themselves to become overpowered by negative emotions.

Being successful in life is all about developing and conditioning positive core beliefs each and every day. This is why I’m a big believer in the power of reciting positive affirmations.

You have to trust that you are better than your limiting beliefs. When in doubt, fake it until you feel it. Once you start believing that you are amazing and capable of achieving anything, you naturally start to embody that feeling.

Take a look at this guide if you’d like to boost your self-confidence:

How to Be More Confident (the Definitive Step-By-Step Guide)

2. Take Responsibility for Your Life

When it feels like the world is caving in on you, it’s easy to blame the world for your problems. However, adopting this mindset only serves to disempower you.

If you constantly say, “Bad things always happen to me”, life will constantly feel like a struggle. The Universe listens, so be careful of the words that you speak.

You cannot wait for someone to come along and make your life better. You have the power to take responsibility for your life – this includes the good, the bad and the ugly.

No dream or goal is going to save you. The sooner that you accept and start living that truth, the sooner that you step into your power.

If you somehow believe that you’re always the unlucky one, you need to check this out:

Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

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3. Reframe Setbacks as Signposts for Growth

Setbacks aren’t fatal or permanent. In actuality, there are times when getting knocked down by life is very much needed. I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but let me explain.

Sometimes you’ve got to hit your emotional threshold or rock bottom before you are finally ready to change your life. If you feel like you are the bottom now, the good news is that you can’t go any lower. The only way is up!

I believe that hitting rock bottom can be a catalyst for personal transformation and the foundation upon which anyone can rebuild their lives.

I like to think of setbacks as signposts that exist to shake me awake. Whenever I feel stuck, I’ve either been getting too comfortable in my environment or I haven’t been listening to my intuition.

Setbacks offer great opportunities to redirect and refocus your life, but it’s up to you to see them that way. I encourage you to reframe your challenges as opportunities for growth.

The next time that nothing seems to be going your way, step back and ask yourself the following questions – “What is this challenge teaching me about myself, and what opportunity is hidden amidst the pain?”

Every problem has an advantage. It’s up to you to find it. When you learn how to embrace your challenges, you are better able to look every future challenge dead in the eye and give it a wink.

This article give you some good reasons to stop be afraid of failure:

6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail

4. Master Your Emotions

When things fall apart, how do you react? Do you panic and lose control, or do you sit back, assess the situation and take action?

You can’t always control how you feel. Feelings are meant to be felt in their totality. The only thing that you can control is how you respond to your feelings.

You may be able to influence a certain outcome, but everything else is out of your hands. If you don’t master your emotions, they will end up mastering you.

Psychologist, Lisa Feldman Barrett suggests in her book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain that emotions do not happen to us without our volition. Rather, we construct our emotions by making predictions using our past experiences.

This line of thinking supports the belief that you are the creator of your own reality. This means that you are, and will always be, in control of your life and your emotions.

The best way to have more control over your emotional responses is to move throughout your days more mindfully. This comes down to being present and more aware of yourself, your experiences, and how you participate with them.

The next time that you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a deep breath and calm your emotional centre. Give yourself time and space to choose how you will respond.

When you learn how to separate your emotions from your emotional responses, you are able to proactively instead of reactively face and tackle life’s challenges.

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You can learn more about practicing mindfulness here:

Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness

5. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

I believe that comfort is the enemy of progress. Your comfort zone is a safe place to hang out, but nothing ever grows there. Don’t get me wrong, uncertainty doesn’t necessarily feel good.

However, if you have the desire to become mentally stronger, you’ve got to be willing to try and be okay with the possibility of failing.

New research from Yale University shows that uncertainty sends a signal to the brain to kickstart the learning process.[3] This means that those unstable situations that make you feel uncomfortable are critical to your ability to grow and succeed.

Do you think that some of the most successful people in this world got to where they are today by sipping apple martinis and sitting on a beach? Absolutely not.

They worked tirelessly and risk a lot in order to turn their dreams into reality. In short, they took massive action, in spite of their fears. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

You are not here to sit on the sidelines of life and watch everything and everyone pass you by. You have gifts that the world is waiting for. The only way that anyone will benefit from your inspiration is if you get comfortable being uncomfortable.

I challenge you to do one thing every day that stretches your mental muscle. That is how you become the driver of your destiny.

Still wondering how to step out of your comfort zone? I strongly recommend you read this:

Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Final Thoughts

Starting today, commit to helping yourself become mentally stronger.

Your mental strength is bigger than any obstacle or adversity. You can either choose to stay on the ground and play the victim, or you can rise up and transform your pain into possibility.

As someone once said,

“The biggest wall that you’ve got to climb is the one that you build in your mind.”

Whatever you do, keep moving, and don’t stop until you reach the top. I promise that the view will be so worth it.

Are you ready to show life who is boss?

More Resources About Mental Strength

Featured photo credit: Jonas Verstuyft via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

CEO of Resilience Junkie | Women's Resilience Mastery Coach

5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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