What is Mental Strength and How is it Different from Mental Health?

With the national conversation increasingly focusing on mental health, it makes sense that people are also thinking about mental strength. When it comes to mental health vs mental strength, these two terms are often used interchangeably, even though they mean different things. Mental health is about your overall mental and emotional wellbeing, while mental strength has to do with the ability to tolerate discomfort and take constructive, courageous action. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between mental health and mental strength, and ways to build up your mental strength…even while you’re at work. 

What is Mental Health?

Your mental health consists of your psychological, emotional, and social health. Your mental health impacts how you feel, think and behave. Mental health can change over time based on lifestyle and life circumstances. 

What is Mental Strength?

Mental strength is a combination of confidence, resilience, and self-awareness. Mental strength allows people to move through discomfort to accomplish their goals. Mental toughness, in many ways, is opposite to the stereotypical ideals of masculine toughness. For example, it takes great mental strength to be aware of and feel your feelings. Asking for help also takes mental strength. Mental strength increases positive outcomes in all areas of life.  

Mental Strength vs Mental Health

Mental health and mental strength are very similar to physical health and physical strength. You’re physically healthy if your body is operating normally. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have strong muscles or physical strength. Likewise, you could have a physical illness or health condition, but have strong muscles and be physically strong. So, physical strength doesn’t perfectly protect against health issues, the same way that a physical health issue can’t keep you from working out and strengthening yourself. 

It’s entirely likely that if you have a mental illness you’re mentally strong. And vice versa—you could be mentally healthy but not have much mental strength. You can build your mental strength no matter the state of your mental health. Though if you are struggling with mental illness, you may need to adjust your mental strength training the way someone who has physical health issues might adapt their workout routine to their body’s needs. 

How to Build Mental Strength

Some of these might surprise you. Here are a few ways to build your mental strength

Take cold showers.

Cold showers are powerful. They’re so powerful, that they reduced absences related to sickness by almost 30% in one study. While deeply uncomfortable, you’re helping your body, so they are a good way to build mental toughness. When you choose to endure something as uncomfortable as a cold shower, you’re learning how to tolerate other uncomfortable experiences in life. 

Feel your feelings.

You don’t have to do it for long, but take a minute or two to feel your uncomfortable emotions as they arise. Look for corresponding physical sensations (sore back, joint pain) while the emotions are present. Staying present with challenging emotions prepares you to make better decisions the next time you have hard feelings. 

Practice gratitude.

This builds mental toughness by training us to see the good in life, even if we aren’t feeling it. Being able to shift your perspective gives you more choices, and the ability to creatively solve problems. 

Mental Strength Training at Work

Here are two ways to build mental strength while at work. 

Work without music. 

You don’t have to do it for a whole day, of course. Start with small increments and work your way up. This will increase both your mental strength and your ability to focus. 

Do the hard thing (but set a timer).

This is a practice that can be done in any area of life but holds potentially great benefits at work. Pick a task you’ve been putting off or particularly dread and start a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, you can choose to stop or continue. You’ll likely want to keep going, but knowing you have an out at 10 minutes can help you get started. 

BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS) Wellness Challenges Build Mental Strength

With a customized wellness challenge, you can help your team become stronger both mentally and physically. Developing your employee’s mental strength is mutually beneficial. Your team reaps the benefits of the comradery and support that comes from working together as a group. And your organization enjoys the better outcomes at work that mental strength brings. And it will be easier for your team to accomplish their goals and develop the mental toughness that comes from changing habits with a group wellness challenge. Focus on any area of health, like physical activity or eating healthfully with a customized wellness challenge from BHS. Reach out to us today to get started!