Mental Strength Exercises for the Workplace

While often applied to elite athletes, the idea of mental strength has universal appeal. Acquiring mental toughness is a goal for many employees (and employers) because it leads to better outcomes at work. In this article, we’ll discuss what is mental strength and then go over mental toughness training

What is Mental Strength

Definitions for mental toughness abound but commonly include emotional resiliency and confidence. In this study on elite athletes, researchers found that athletes who demonstrated mental toughness were “consistently superior at remaining determined, focused, confident and in control under pressure.”. Attributes of mental toughness are related to self-belief, desire and motivation, and how you deal with pressure and anxiety. Mental strength has a direct connection to successful outcomes in all areas of life. It does this by giving us the capacity to effectively handle uncertainty and challenges, bounce back from setbacks, and take courageous action.

What is Mental Strength Training

Our mind is a muscle and we can strengthen it through exercises, just like you strengthen your physical body with physical activities. In the military, soldiers are trained to develop mental toughness through, well, suffering. That’s why boot camps are physically and emotionally grueling. Thankfully, you don’t need to go to boot camp to become mentally tough. You can develop your own mental strength, or emotional resilience, by practicing mental strength training. You can intentionally strengthen yourself mentally by doing what is called resilience training. Many of these exercises can even be done at work. 

Mental Strength Exercises at Work

Here are a few mental toughness exercises that you can do at work. Just like with regular exercise, don’t overdo it and slowly build up your practice over time. 

Make yourself wait to eat lunch or a snack

The goal here is not to deprive yourself, but to learn how to sit with the feeling of hunger. Hunger is uncomfortable and most of us are able to satisfy our hunger almost immediately. By taking a minute or five before you reach for a snack or your lunch bag, you’re increasing your mental toughness. Feeling the discomfort and tolerating it shows yourself that you can do this hard thing, which builds self-confidence. 

Do the hard thing….for ten minutes

This is a great exercise for work. There’s likely a task or two that you are dreading because it’s difficult. Bring your intentionality to bear, set a timer and do the hard thing for the allotted time. Part of building self-confidence is stopping when the time is up if you want to. Even if you decide to keep going with the difficult task, be intentional about that too. Doing something challenging actively builds mental toughness. 

Work without music

The classic version of this exercise is working out without music or other audio content. This exercise can easily be tailored to the office because many of us work with music. While it may be necessary to have music most of the day to be productive, try 15 minutes without music and see how it goes. Lacking the distraction that music provides can be uncomfortable, which is why this builds mental toughness. 

Feel your feelings

This is probably one of the hardest exercises, period. But it will improve your emotional health as well as your mental toughness. Practice pausing and body scanning the next time you feel an uncomfortable or difficult feeling like anxiety, loneliness, or anger. You may notice yourself reaching for a distraction before you pause, that’s normal. Take a moment to feel the feeling and notice what’s happening in your body. Is your stomach rumbling? Did your shoulders tighten up? Become present with yourself and your body in the moment. True feelings only last for about 90 seconds, so that’s about as long as you need to practice. 

Name your feelings 

The next step to the feeling your feelings exercise is to start naming your feelings. Putting a label to what you’re feeling calms down the part of your brain called the amygdala, which processes fears and perceived threats. You can name your feelings as they arise, or schedule time throughout the day for a quick check-in. If you’re struggling to name your feelings, there are emotion lists available online. 

Own your mistakes

Mental strength gives you the ability to gracefully admit to your mistakes and take corrective action. While we try hard to do excellent work, mistakes happen. When they occur, take a deep breath, name your feelings and then take responsibility. No excuses and no blame. Explain what happened, apologize if necessary, and do what you need to fix it. If this feels daunting, know, that you’ll be building mental strength during this process. 

Wellness Challenges with BioFunctional Health Solutions

Make mental toughness an office goal with a wellness challenge from BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS). Changing habits takes and develops mental toughness. Help create mental toughness in your team with a customized wellness challenge from BHS. We are experts at designing wellness challenges for teams just like yours. Reach out to us today to get started!