We live in a world that frequently makes us feel overwhelmed, whether we’re racing to finish a deadline, having a conflict with a loved one or unable to find time for ourselves. We feel confused, stuck and frustrated that things aren’t going the way we want them to. We find ourselves being irritated by the littlest things while constantly worrying about what is going to happen next! Sometimes we keep procrastinating, unable to find the passion or energy to do the things we want! This can direly affect our psychological wellness and the chances that we may face a mental breakdown is imminent.
How can we overcome this? What does it mean to be mentally strong? How can we develop this ability in ourselves?
Prominent American psychologist, Carol Dweck states “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life”. Being mentally strong means you’re able to adapt and navigate your way through the difficult situations in life. Mentally strong people aren’t perfect; they haven’t unlocked the secrets to living life without obstacles. Rather they change what can be changed and accept what can’t be changed.
The first step towards this change is to
Let your emotions flow
It is a common hearsay that people who shut down their emotions are more mature. But in reality, emotions are channels that vent out our feelings as they help in releasing stress. The presence of stress hormone cortisol can have lasting effects on our immune system. A good cry releases hormones oxytocin and endorphins that help counteract against cortisol by easing emotional pain and providing feelings of joy.
Research studies have found that an average person can have up to 6000 thoughts a day and these thoughts can be positive, negative, neutral or intrusive. Practicing meditation helps you sit down with your thoughts and mindfulness provides clarity on your thinking patterns. If you’re unable to sit still, try writing down your thoughts by keeping a journal or even on a scrap of paper. If you’re an active person who likes to get out, go for a walk and connect with nature. Colour psychology describes green colour to hold a number of meanings for people some being motivation, optimism, growth and tranquility.
Let go of perfectionism
Striving to be perfect in everything one does increases cognitive burden. Trying to control every aspect of your life can be energy-draining. It is important to let go of what cannot be changed and be open to new experiences. Define your own success so that you can feel content and satisfied with your decisions. Have a flexible mindset by being open to constructive criticism and feedback.
Instead of denying your wrong doings, take responsibility for your mistakes and change them without getting stuck in a ruminating loop. Make peace with your past and your actions. Recognise every situation as a learning opportunity to gain insight.
Take on a multi-perspective approach
Acknowledge and understand that each person is an individual with their own beliefs and experiences. Try seeing the world through their eyes. Lay down boundaries to protect yourself and do not overstep the boundaries that others have created for themselves. Look for positive aspects even in difficult circumstances as Mizuta Masahide put it beautifully “My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon”.
Find joy in the little things and actively express this joy. Show gratitude to your loved ones. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in making both the patron and the recipient feel good about themselves.
Becoming mentally strong is not a task that can be achieved in a day. It is a skill that needs practicing to gain mastery over just like riding a bicycle. With each passing day, you’ll find that you don’t have to put in deliberate effort; rather it’ll become something natural adding essence to your daily routine.
It is always good to reach out to a psychologist who can guide you in achieving your potential.