It’s easy to assume that anxiety is something that most people don’t deal with- but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, anxiety is something that we all deal with at least at one point or another, and building mental strength can help to combat it when it strikes.
Especially now, with a pandemic under our belt, many people are dealing with higher levels of anxiety. Research shows that since the pandemic began, many people have experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and higher levels of stress.
A powerful way to defeat anxiety, according to many researchers, and neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, is to exercise mental toughness. And while they may seem easier said than done, there are exercises you can do regularly to increase your mental toughness, build resiliency and work your way through stressful situations with composure.
Here are the 6 exercises Wendy encourages others to use, that she uses each day to build her resilience and mental strength.
1. Visualize positive outcomes.
According to Wendy, you should begin each day by mentally tackling your problems by imagining a positive outcome. For example, if you have a difficult meeting with your boss-imagine going into the meeting, talking to your boss, and having the best possible outcome. She emphasizes the importance of not selling yourself short. Don’t imagine an okay outcome-imagine the best.
2. Turn anxiety into progress.
Negative emotions like anger, fear, sadness, worry, and frustration can either drag us down or fuel us. Suzuki encourages us to think of the positive way these emotions can help us to do better. For example, if you feel anger, it can either blind you and stop you from moving forward. Or you can use it to motivate yourself.
3. Shake things up with something new.
With things like Skillshare, Udemy, and even YouTube – it’s easier than ever to refresh and refocus your mind with a new skill. While it may be easy to sit in your comfort zone, Suzuki says, “It doesn’t have to be a workout, and it doesn’t have to be hard-it can be something right above your level or just slightly out of your comfort zone.” Change can be scary- but it helps us to broaden our horizons and realize our capabilities.
4. Stay connected.
When we are distressed, it is easy to pull back and isolate. But staying connected to others is important. It gives us the sense that we aren’t alone, and it also surrounds us with people we care about and that care about us when we are feeling our lowest and most difficult emotions.
5. Practice positive self-tweeting.
This one surprised me, but I truly do get the reasoning behind it. She says that at the beginning and end of each day, Lin-Manual Miranda Tweets funny and upbeat messages to himself. She describes him as a mentally strong and generally optimistic person. In turn, she says the positive reminders and messages he gives himself each day (and you don’t necessarily have to share these with the world) likely boosts him throughout his day.
Our first tendency may be to bash ourselves- but instead, we should be our biggest fans.
6. Go to nature.
It is scientifically proven that nature helps us to find peace and also has amazing effects on our overall well-being. And you don’t have to live in the woods to get some nature therapy. Simply go on a walk, spend time on your back porch, or take a stroll through your yard. Nature truly is uplifting and can help you to clear your mind, regroup and refocus when you are feeling stressed to the max.