#1 Develop your Self-awareness

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Self-awareness is the key. How can you change or improve any aspect of your life if you are not aware that this part of your life requires attention? Self-awareness is essential because it gives you a better understanding of yourself, including your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and motivations. It empowers you to make changes and build on your areas of strength as well as identify areas where you want to make improvements. It is the first step to developing your mental strength.

Some ways to develop your self-awareness:

  • Practice mindfulness & meditation. Yes, meditate often, even if only for 5 minutes at a time.
  • Practice deep breathing.
  • Keep a journal – practice daily self-reflection. Check out BLOOM’s self- discovery Daily Journal HERE.
  • Write down your goals, plans, and priorities.
  • Ask trusted friends to describe you.

#2 Make Time for Quiet Reflection

Between your hectic schedule, your phone constantly calling for your attention, and the pressure to be productive, there seems to be little room for quiet time in your life.  Setting aside 10 or 15 minutes a day to be alone with your thoughts is essential to building your mental strength. It’s a choice, and thus it’s your choice to make time for quiet reflection in your day. Doing so is an important and integral part of growth and renewal. It reduces stress and restores mental wellness.

Quiet reflection allows your brain to rest and helps you pay attention better. It also gives you a chance to turn down the inner noise and increase awareness of what matters most. It cultivates mindfulness through recognition and appreciation of the present moment. Why would you want to deprive yourself of such a positive way to develop your mental strength?

Some ways to make time for quiet reflection:

  • Do more meditation – make it a daily practice.
  • Do more journaling. Check out BLOOM’s self- discovery Daily Journal HERE.
  • Go out for a walk by yourself, if possible, in nature – take your dog with you if you have one, s/he will love you for it!
  • Practice mindful coloring – get yourself a mindfulness coloring book, they are amazing.
  • Look out the window next time you are a passenger in a car instead of looking at your phone.

#3 Challenge Yourself - Step Outside your Comfort Zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone is another step toward developing your mental strength. Have you ever heard the quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (Walsh, n.d. )? So, what does it mean to step outside your comfort zone? It means doing things that you are not comfortable with doing. It encourages you to test what you believe to be your limits and discover that those limits are often self-imposed. They are not necessarily a reflection of what you are actually capable of.

Remember that taking risks, regardless of their outcome, are growth experiences that will enrich your mental strength. Every time you try something new, and allow yourself to be open to whatever experience arises, you are learning and expanding your repertoire of life skills and self-knowledge. As a result, you also expand the size of your comfort zone and you become better equipped to deal with new challenges. You also become more productive, more adaptable to change, and a lot more creative. Try it and see for yourself!

A few ways to step out of your comfort zone:

  • Hang out with people who value stepping out of their comfort zone.
  • Throw out things you have not used in 1 year.
  • Take a day offline.
  • Have a day of kindness.
  • Smile to strangers.
  • Eat something unusual.
  • See failure as a teacher.
  • Look for role models of resilience.

#4 Practice Gratitude

Did you know that scientists have been studying the practice of gratitude very closely? What have they found? Research shows that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can:

    • Enhance your long-term happiness by 10%, Enhance your positive emotions, increase self-esteem, and strengthen family relationships in times of stress.
    • It can also make you more optimistic, more giving, and optimistic.
    • Gratitude improves our overall physical health.

All those benefits are crucial to the development of mental strength, therefore you should practice gratitude without the slightest hesitation.

Some ways you can practice gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and add one thing to it every day.
  • Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate them.
  • Notice the beauty in nature each day.
  • Say thank you for the little things your loved ones do for you, things you normally take for granted.
  • Commit to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything.
  • Smile more often!

#5 Be Kind to Yourself

Self-compassion and being kind to yourself should never be confused with self-pity. Kindness toward oneself is simply recognizing that life can be difficult at times and that you need to do things to make life a little easier. That is not a bad thing.

Just as important as it is to be kind to others, it’s equally important to practice kindness toward yourself. This is the power of acceptance and growth. Being kind to yourself was found to promote happiness and confidence, not to mention that how you treat yourself sets the tone for how others will treat you. Studies show that self-compassion helps your brain function more efficiently and improves your immune system. Positive self-talk boosts your self-esteem and sense of self-worth, which can empower and motivate you to turn a bad day into a good day. That is a sign of mental strength. In light of all these benefits, it certainly does not hurt to give self-compassion a try, does it?

Try these ways to be kind to yourself:

  • Learn to calm your mind – yes, meditate more!
  • Spend time with people who do good things, are uplifting, and positive.
  • If you stumble, be your own best friend.
  • Write yourself a love letter.
  • Think of a way to make your life easier, then do it.
  • Respect yourself fully.
  • Simply remind yourself why it’s smart to be kind to yourself.

#6 Take Good Care of your Body

Taking care of your body helps you care for your mind. That’s a golden rule. Mental and physical health are very closely linked. One often affects the other. It’s the body-mind connection. Studies show that your physical health has huge impacts on how you feel, how your mind functions, and your emotions. Taking care of your body means increased energy levels, a better ability to accomplish your daily goals, and an increased capacity to handle daily problems and challenges that arise in your life. It also helps you concentrate on any given task, which means that your tasks will take less time to complete. It also influences your decision-making skills. Do you see how taking care of your body and your health will be a huge asset in your efforts to develop your mental strength?

Some good ways for you to take care of your body:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits.
  • Find a physical activity you like and exercise as often as you can.
  • Get plenty of ZZZZ’s.
  • Don’t use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
  • Oh, and yes, meditate more!

#7 Take a Step toward your Dreams

As you now know, mental strength is crucial to reaching your goals. One way to cultivate your mental strength is to take a first step toward your dreams. Mental strength and taking steps toward achieving dreams do feed into each other. It’s a very powerful feedback loop. As you take those first steps you may feel afraid as you are stepping out of your comfort zone. That’s completely normal. But as you climb past the first small steps that you set for yourself you will feel less anxious, more confident, and more comfortable pushing your boundaries. You will also learn to be realistic, humble, and to set achievable deadlines for your dreams. This will help you avoid unnecessary failures that could discourage you from moving forward. And as a result of all this, your mental strength will grow bigger and stronger.

Some ways to take a step toward your dreams:

  • Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect – the best time to start is NOW.
  • Believe in your dream, visualize it, feel it as if it was already happening.
  • Take one step at a time – set realistic deadlines and goals.
  • Go for it and enjoy it!