The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to our daily lives, including remote working, information overload and social isolation. As we all try to adapt to the “new normal,” there is no better time to talk about mental strength. While working out and keeping our bodies healthy is important, it’s just as critical to exercise our minds. Fortunately, it’s possible to get your brain in shape just like a muscle in your body. All it takes is identifying specific strategies and practicing them daily. Once you train your mind for success, you will be able to conquer anything.
Our internal dialogue is often very different from how we would speak to someone we care about. This is especially true of people who are perfectionists. Be mindful of being overly self-critical. Rather than beat yourself up over a failure or misstep, try to give yourself the same advice you’d give to a trusted friend. In fact, being too tough on yourself may actually hinder your performance. Multiple studies show that treating yourself with more kindness could be the best way to train your mind for success. Research has linked self-compassion to everything from improved psychological well-being and better body image to enhanced self-worth and increased motivation. So, make it a habit of speaking to yourself in a way that is understanding and compassionate.
As Arnold Bennett wrote in his book, The Human Machine, “Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.” Learning how to center yourself is one of the most important ways to train your mind for success.
When we aren’t centered there are clear warning signs like:
- Being consumed by negative thoughts
- Feeling nervous, stuck and overwhelmed
- Being easily distracted and unable to focus
- Checking your phone compulsively throughout the day
With a little practice, you can turn this nervous energy into positive concentration.
Some ways to center yourself include:
Conscious breathing: when you’re out of center, you’re not breathing properly. So, try to become more aware of your breathing and take deep, slow breaths from your belly. Just doing this a few times a day can work wonders.
Practicing awareness: This exercise aims to generate awareness of your sensory experience so that you can feel more grounded in your body. Take ten minutes out of your day and name the things you are experiencing for each of the senses. Identify five things you can see, five things you can hear, five things you can touch, and five things you can smell. For taste, a sip of water or tea is often enough to bring awareness to the body.
Meditation: According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation is a fast and straightforward way to reduce stress. In fact, it’s an art form that has been around for thousands of years. The good news is that anyone can meditate. It’s easy, inexpensive, and you can practice it anywhere. With so many wonderful apps out there like Calm, Insight Timer and Headspace, there’s no excuse to avoid the practice. Don’t have enough time in your hectic schedule? There are even mini guided meditations that last anywhere from one to five minutes.
The daily practice of visualizing your dreams as reality can rapidly accelerate your achievement of those goals. This technique has been used by elite athletes and peak performers for centuries. According to Jack Canfield, using visualization techniques yields four significant benefits:
1. It activates your creative subconscious which will start generating creative ideas to attain your goal
2. It programs your brain to more readily perceive and recognize the resources you will need to achieve your dreams
3. It activates the law of attraction, thereby drawing into your life the people, support, and circumstances you will need to realize your goals
4. It builds your internal motivation to take the necessary actions to reach your dreams
The more detailed your visualization, the more real it will seem, and the more it will increase performance. Close your eyes and think about how reaching your goal will look, feel and sound. Once you start putting this mental exercise into practice, it becomes easier to train your mind for success.
Learn something new
On a physiological level, learning new things is healthy for your brain. According to science, practicing a new skill increases the density of your myelin or the white matter in your brain that helps improve performance. Learning new skills also helps flex your memory muscles and improve your overall recall. It stimulates neurons in the brain, forming more neural pathways and allowing electrical impulses to travel faster across them. Combining these two things helps you learn things quickly and adapt to new situations with confidence.
Look for the silver lining
Negative thoughts weigh you down and can take a toll on your professional and personal life.Shifting a negative mindset to a positive outlook requires practice. As they say, “The only way to fail at failing is to learn nothing from the experience.” Focus your energy on turning failures into learning experiences. When you run up against a challenging situation, look for the hidden lesson. Ask yourself, “what good might come out of this?” Think of it this way; failure is the only way to grow and evolve. It isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.
As author Napoleon Hill wrote in his famous book, Think and Grow Rich, “If you fail to control your own mind, you may be sure that you will control nothing else.” Train your mind for success, and you’ll have the ability to overcome any obstacles that come your way.
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