What is mental strength?

The way we think affects how we feel. The way we feel affects how we behave. How we behave affects the way we think.

It’s a continuous, reinforcing cycle that can give us amazing high points or deep low points. We need to learn how to intervene when we are in a downward cycle to rewrite the narrative.

🤔 Thinking. Putting things into perspective and showing self-compassion are great skills. For example, try reframing failure as a learning opportunity.

🧠 Feeling. Label your emotions to understand the underlying causes.

đź‘Š Doing. Complete the cycle by taking productive action. Doing something that is hard to start but feels great afterwards is the crux of mental strength.

Embracing difficult feelings

Embracing difficult feelings is difficult. It’s obvious when you say it. And when something is difficult we need good strategies for dealing with it.

Avoidance and blocking of negative emotions can lead to blocking all emotions. So, it’s important to learn how to manage all our emotions.

Here’s one strategy. To embrace difficult feelings, you have to understand them first. This means giving them a label – the more specific the better. There might even be a few different feelings coming together.

Now, that you understand your feelings, you can work to meet unmet needs.

Develop mental strength routinely

The best way to develop mental strength is to do something that is good for you when you lack motivation. Motivation is just a feeling and, like everything feeling, it comes and goes.

The first step is to notice the urge not to act e.g. ‘I don’t want to go to the gym today.’ Then, understand why you are performing the action e.g. ‘I want to go to the gym to improve my fitness.’ Finally, make a choice e.g. ‘I will/ won’t go to the gym today.’

Start by practicing with something small and build up to more difficult goals. A few easy wins could be:

  • Don’t look at your phone when you’re in a queue;
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day;
  • Hold food in your mouth before biting it;
  • Setting a timer to work for 10 more minutes when you feel like you are getting distracted;
  • Sending a message you’ve been putting off for a while.

Three great resources to learn more

Dr Julie Smith – On Purpose with Jay Shetty

A great introduction to how you can start to understand your mind! Offers practical tools and thought provoking insights!

David Goggins – Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

An INTENSE man but his experience and knowledge is beyond value able! An ex-navy seal teaches you how you can go beyond your limits mentally and physically

Unbeatable Mind – Mark Divine

Interesting read into how to build mental toughness, why it’s important and how it can transform your life

Need more support?

If you’re struggling with your mental health, please seek support from a professional. Mind has some fantastic resources.

What is flow?

Do you every feel so immersed in an activity that hours go by without you noticing? That’s flow.

The idea of flow comes from the realms of positive psychology, namely Mihály CsĂ­kszentmihályi. It’s the state of feeling full involvement, energised focus and enjoyment in an activity.

Mihály said that flow is not about discovering the right experience, it is about enhancing the quality of any experience. So, this month, we looked at how to cultivate flow in many aspects of our lives.

Visualising Flow

Flow occurs when our skill in an activity is high and the challenge is high. How we define ‘high’ in these contexts is relative to the individual. Using visualisation we can change the skill level and perceived challenge level of an activity.

Wikipedia

When you visualise being totally immersed in an action – it is as if you are performing it for real. You are actively priming your brain so that the action feels like it comes naturally to you.

You can improve your overall strategic approach to an activity; specific skills to perform an activity and self-efficacy, having more clarity on knowing your true skill level.

Visualisation makes it become more natural and instinctive – helping you to find your flow.

Putting it into Practice

Flow has become a popular topic of discussion for people at the peak of their craft and, increasingly, for people wanting to level up some aspect of their life. The ‘Flow Research Collective Radio‘ podcast talked about all the research into flow with practical advice on how to cultivate it in your life. In ‘The School of Greatness’ podcast, Lewis Holmes talks with Donald Schultz and Travis Pastrana about their personal experiences. Donald has done a lot of things very well – from all his amazing experiences, he shares lessons learned and dilemmas faced. Travis, a stunt performer, gives us an immersive six-minute experience into what it is like to fly through the air on a motorbike.

Within our VIVE team – we try to apply flow in a few areas of our lives. For Maya, this is currently in her work and, for Ben, it’s in learning to drive.

“At the moment, I am definitely finding flow in my work. I have these periods of just incredible energy and motivation! And more than anything, I enjoy it.”

– Maya

“I’m starting to find flow in learning to drive. I found it difficult for a while, I was overthinking things and it just didn’t feel natural being behind the wheel. But recently, I’ve been much more relaxed and loving it!”

– Ben

The new year is a perfect time to start new routines, but how do you decide which routines mean the most to you?

Define your Goals

The first step is defining your goals. These can be in any area of your life – in your career, in your relationships, in your personal health, in your wealth… you get the idea.

In our Sunday Instagram Lives for January, we taught you how visualisation can be used to understand your motivations and define your goals.

Work Towards your Goals

Once you have define your goals, it’s time to start to work towards them. At VIVE, we use visualisation as a technique to get into the state of achieving our goals as if they have already happened. This helps us to form an identity aligned to our goals, which is one of the most powerful things you can do to maintain a routine and form a new habit.

The next stage is action. Creating a strategy is important but not as important as action. The plan you create gives a direction to head in and a speed to go at – but things rarely ever follow the plan exactly. So it’s better to take action and use your newfound identity to respond to surprises, than it is to spend vast amounts of time planning.

We hope that you enjoyed this month’s theme! Now that January is over, it’s time for Find your Flow February.