Being mentally strong and happy used to feel impossible. I lived for 30 years with anxiety and panic disorder. I existed in a chronic state of fear and vulnerability.
It’s amazing what we can learn to live with and adapt to. Using various OCD coping mechanisms I was able to portray a “normal” front to the outside world.
But, behind-the-scenes, I was dealing with middle of the night panic attacks and depersonalization disorder so bad it was sometimes scary to drive.
I was surviving.
But, not thriving. And, it had to change.
If any of this sounds familiar then you are the reason that I write this blog. Over the last five years, I have learned a ton of different ways to become mentally strong and happy.
Today, I want to tell you about a few of them that have worked the best, for me.
What does being mentally strong mean?
I’ve always had a goal, or really more of a dream, to compete in a bikini body-building contest. I say it’s more of a dream because I don’t really train or even register.
I do enjoy lifting weights, while I only do it a few times a month. And, I really enjoy researching the physiology behind muscle growth.
Essentially, in order for a muscle to grow, it first has to tear. That is the ‘burning’ sensation you feel when you lift weights. And, when those muscles tear, they release lactic acid and that causes the soreness you feel after you lift.
I love this analogy because it really helped me to understand the process of becoming mentally strong and happy.
Mental strength comes from accepting your fear and vulnerability rather than trying to escape them.
I get it.
It seems counter-intuitive that feeling weak is actually what makes you strong. But, it’s not just that. It’s recognizing that feeling vulnerable, exposed or open is not weakness, at all.
In fact, embracing those feelings or letting them just wash over you, is where your strength and power come from.
Being mentally strong means acknowledging when you feel vulnerable, allowing it to happen, and not beating yourself up about it.
Why is being mentally strong important?
Brene Brown, PhD has done years of research on the subject of vulnerability. She says that compassion, creativity, and courage are all born from vulnerability.
Think about which moments in your day make you feel vulnerable. Imagine that you thought of those moments as opportunities for growth.
That you allowed all of the feelings to just wash over you and accepted them for what they were. Instead of trying to push them away or pretend they weren’t happening.
Each time you did that you would get a little more mentally strong and confident because you would start to learn about your personal strength and ability to count on yourself.
I truly believe that my anxiety stemmed from years of me living out of alignment with my true self.
Each time that I felt vulnerable or had an opinion, I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to seem high maintenance or like I was causing problems.
I didn’t speak up when asked to do things I didn’t want to do. Or, be in situations I didn’t want to be in.
And, every time I had a panic attack, I told myself I was being stupid and needed to get my shit together.
Mental strength and toughness are essential for you to feel confident enough to stand on your own two feet and say, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” or, “This situation is not making me happy and I want to change it”.
Feeling empowered to stand up for your feelings without worrying about what others might think of you is the hallmark of mental strength and happiness. And, crucial to your overall quality of life for the next 40 years.
25 Daily Activities that will make you mentally strong and happy
So, now that we know what being mentally strong is and why it’s important the next step is to learn how to do it.
I have tried so many different things to improve my mental strength. Not only to manage my anxiety but also to just live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Everything that is on this list is something that I have tried. And, many of them I do on a daily basis.
Being mentally strong and happy is like anything else that is good for you. It’s an ongoing process that you have to work at each day.
- Stop making choices based on what others think
- Practice 5-7-8 breathing
- Start living an intentional life
- Practice meditation
- Practice gratitude
- Go for a walk or get regular exercise
- Get quality sleep
- Spend time outdoors
- Listen to funny or motivation podcasts or audiobooks
- Practice journaling
- Have a self-care routine
- Plan activities that are fun and you enjoy. Put them on the calendar and do them
- Volunteer or care for others
- Learn something new; language, instrument, martial arts, dance, etc
- Do yoga or other stretching to improve your posture (power poses)
- Think about what you’re thinking about (keep out the negative)
- Limit your time on social media (find motivating or inspiring stories to read or listen to online instead)
- Practice healthy self-talk (your brain believes negatives way more than positives so you have to repeat positives to it all the time)
- Practice daily affirmations (repeat and truly believe)
- Set goals and celebrate every single step of progress (progress IS perfection)
- Set an intention that, when you feel vulnerable or scared, you will face it and not escape it.
- Spend time with people who make you feel loved and supported
- Find the positive in every situation
- Use visualization (visualize a happy place)
- Accept that setbacks will happen. Adjust your course and recommit.
Being mentally strong and happy is a journey and one that takes consistency and daily action. But, if you want your next 40 years to be as joyful and fulfilling as possible, then the journey is totally worth it!
Pick a few of these daily activities and start implementing them on a regular basis. Let me know which ones you picked and how things are going for you!