As an athlete, I like to think I am mentally tough, but a few recent events had me doubting my toughness. So I decided to take a deeper dive into mental toughness. According to Jason Selk, the director of mental training for the St Louis Cardinals, mental toughness is "the ability to stay focused on solutions in the face of diversity".
I recently spent a week in Orlando Florida on a family vacation. As much as I love family, the theme parks, concrete, long lines and sweating 24/7(just standing still) challenged my mental toughness. I tried positive self-talk and breathing while in line, but with the noise, heat and the waiting, and waiting and waiting..well you get the picture. I was failing. Also earlier in July I tripped over a wire in the street and banged up my knee pretty good. I needed to give it a couple weeks to heal but instead chose to run the Lincoln Mile and do some light running here and there. I was not tough enough to stay off of it.
During my research, I learned mental toughness is for everyone 12 years of age and older. Yes, you! It has to be developed as it is not natural, so don't feel bad if you are lacking. Research shows athletes out tough the rest because they train mentally, as we all should add mental toughness training to our daily schedule. No sweat required! Here are a few tips to help us all be mental giants!
1. Breathe- When we need to perform at our best our brain knows it. Immediately our heart rate goes up, which disables the brain. We go into fight or flight. Control the breath, control the heart, control the mind. Breathe in for 6, hold for 2, exhale for 7. Practice centering your breath to perform.
2. Self Image- "A person will not outperform or underperform their self-image for long." Talk in a positive focused manner to yourself. Never say negative words about yourself even if you are joking. Create an identity statement. It does not have to be true....yet!
3. Focus on the process- John Wooden says to not look at the scoreboard, but focus on the process. What can we do now? The score will take care of itself. The human mind can only fully focus on one thing at a time. Focusing on the problems or the goal is not beneficial.
4. Write it down- Research says you are 9 times more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Write the goal and the process to get there.
Finally, "problem-centric thought" is the definition of mental weakness. Stop focusing on what you don't have enough of. When you have a negative thought, ask yourself one question. "What is the one thing I can do to make it better?", not solve right now, but better. Shift your mind to solution focused. As I am injured I am focusing on stretching, icing, nutrition, and learning. If I were to find myself back in Orlando tomorrow in long lines on the pavement surrounded by noise and people....well no sense in living in a fantasy world!
Control your mind, control your destiny! Get healthy, get tough!
Feel the Rush
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. What do you want your life to look like? The amazing thing is the choice is yours. I have spent many years of my life being passive, allowing things to happen to me. How many of us are spectators in our own lives? I know I was for years. I watched my energy decrease. I was tired, bloated, and had brain fog. Most days I woke up only to look forward to my next nap.Then I began an active quest for energy, peace and joy! I can honestly say it was a long journey, which I am still on. I am no longer looking for the magic pill! Magic hacks....yes! At 51 I feel more energetic than I have in years. If I were to give everyone the top 3 things to allow you to live your life with energy, peace and joy...