How to Improve Your Mental Toughness

Let’s face it, the last two years have been pretty shit. When COVID-19 plunged our world into uncertainty and fear, many of us did not have the emotional capacity to cope with our new situation. Those of us who did have some mental resilience have been severely tested and worn down by anxiety, worry, stress and long hours working from home.

Now that restrictions have lifted, how are you doing? If you were a sensitive person in the first place, you may be finding it quite difficult to be objective and find yourself more prone to tears than usual. If you’ve worn yourself down and are finding it hard to cope with the return to life without social distancing, you may be finding it especially difficult interacting with people.

Whether you’ve always been a sensitive person or you’ve just had the resilience knocked out of you, we’re going to help you rebuild your emotional armour. Poor emotional resilience is linked to higher levels of stress and anxiety. If we want to start feeling better about ourselves and stop feeling overwhelmed then we have a bit of work to do to improve our mental toughness.

Cultivate a Positive Mindset

If you’re always seeing the glass as half-empty, you’re not going to be in a very positive state of mind. Instead, you need to start focusing on the positives of every situation you encounter so that you can begin seeing things from a more constructive point of view. It is only by seeing the positive that you’ll be able to embrace opportunity when it comes along.

Reduce the amount of time you spend dwelling on negative situations or things that have happened to you. They are in the past, let them go and move forward. Feeling sorry for yourself will not help you to solve anything, it will just make you feel bad.

Ditch those self-limiting beliefs that tell you that something is ‘impossible’ and ‘you can’t do it’. They’re simply not true. Instead practice positive affirmations whenever that thread of doubt starts to creep in.

Stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself, ‘yes I can’ and ‘nothing is impossible’ and ‘I can do this’. The more you say them to yourself, the more you’ll start to believe. You really can do anything you set your mind to with a little self-belief.

Improve Your Emotional Control

Emotions leak out very easily, especially when you spend a lot of time bottling them up! If you are a sensitive or emotional person, you’ll probably find it even more of a struggle keeping them in check. In order to become mentally stronger, we need to gain some management of our emotions and our responses to situations that can effect them.

It’s easy to think the worst when something bad happens, either at work or at home. Maybe your boss has called you in for an unexpected meeting or you’ve had a phone call from the school to say they want to discuss your child’s progress. If you’re prone to overreacting, you could instinctively jump to the conclusion that you’re going to be fired or your child is in trouble. This overreacting is a classic example of poor emotional control – the kind that leads to negative thinking, increased anxiety and self-loathing.

One technique to use to control your emotions in this kind of situation is to try to reframe them. If you’re already looking at the world through a negative mindset, you’re instinctively going to think that something bad is going to happen. Try imagining what your response would be if you were looking at the situation differently. How would you advise a friend in the same situation for example? Using this technique can help you to develop a more objective mindset, helping you to feel more prepared and emotionally ready for anything.

Commit to Your Goals

Committing to your goals – be they every day lists or long term objectives – will help you to feel more in control of your life. Feeling more in control will help you to dampen down those negative emotions and that detrimental self-talk. When we’re on track with a goal or a project, we feel good about ourselves. We feel as though we are making progress.

Mental toughness is largely about knowing what we will do and how we will react when a situation comes along. If we are on top of our goals and our projects then we will know how to respond to situations involving them. The more we achieve, the more confident we become, so get your goals sorted. No matter how long they take to achieve, just working on them will help to strengthen your resolve and improve your confidence.

Learn From Your Setbacks

Failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are always going to be times in our lives where we don’t succeed or don’t achieve a desired outcome. Now, we can dwell on these setbacks and let them stop us from achieving our dreams or we can learn from them.

Whenever you face a setback, take some time to analyse what you could have done differently. Try to put yourself in an outsider’s perspective. Examine the situation critically and look at the areas where you could have made improvements.

Inevitably, there are going to be some occasions where you believe you have done everything right but for some reason or another things just haven’t worked out. Reflect on them. Learn from them. Brush yourself off and try again.

Practice Self-Validation

Rather than constantly focusing on things that we need to do, how often to we stop and recognise all of our achievements? On a day to day basis we all achieve so many things. Whether it’s getting a report in on time, helping a co-worker, caring for our families or just getting through a relentless day, we achieve on a regular basis.

Don’t sell your achievements short. Make sure that you take some time to reflect on your successes, be they big or small, at the end of every day. Try making a list and marvel at the wonder of you. Who would have thought that you could achieve so much and help so many people on a day to day basis? Because you do, and you do it every single day.

Ask For Help

If you’re struggling with something or feel like there is no solution to a problem, big or small, then never be afraid to ask for help. There will always be someone there to support and guide you. It could be a friend or a coworker or your doctor or a complete stranger at the end of a phoneline. Human beings are a naturally sociable and supportive species after all. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Cultivate some ‘cheerleaders’ who you can rely on to pep you up when you’re feeling down. Find someone at work who you can have a bitch with when you’re having a bad day. Talk to friends and share your problems. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Instead, let them out with people you trust. Once you’ve shared a problem it won’t seem quite so big, bad and scary.

Be Kind to Yourself

No matter what your circumstances are, remember to always be kind to yourself. If you are a bit emotional than that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Wearing your heart on your sleeve has gotten some people quite far in life, especially in professions where honesty and empathy are valued.

Nobody in this world is perfect and we are born into it without any kind of expectation placed upon us. We’re the ones who define our expectations. We all need to learn to appreciate ourselves a little more and be kinder when times are tough. Make sure to practice good self-care and regularly thank yourself for all of the miracles you perform on a regular basis.


We hope that the above tips help you to start to improve your mental toughness. We’ve all had a tough time of it but with a bit of self-reflection, we can help ourselves to recover emotionally and prepare ourselves for stressful situations. Embrace positive thinking and believe in yourself and you will already have won half the battle.

SJB

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