3 Ex­er­cises That Build Men­tal Strength In Just 5 Min­utes A Day

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY AMY MORIN, FORBES CON­TRIB­U­TOR FOL­LOW AMY MORIN AT www.forbes.com/sites/amy­morin

Whether you’re tempted to give in to that crav­ing for a cup­cake, or you’re about to give up on your goals, per­se­ver­ance isn’t easy. But be­fore you blame your lack of God-given willpower and be­fore you make an ex­cuse for your less than stel­lar per­for­mance, con­sider this; it only takes a few min­utes a day to build the men­tal

Build­ing men­tal strength is sim­i­lar to build­ing phys­i­cal strength. Do­ing 50 push ups a day would only take a few min­utes of your time, but do­ing it con­sis­tently would help you build a tremen­dous amount of up­per body strength.

The same can be said with your men­tal mus­cle. In just a few min­utes each day, you can train your brain to think dif­fer­ently, man­age your emo­tions, and be­have pro­duc­tively. With con­sis­tent ex­er­cise, you’ll build men­tal strength.

While there are many ex­er­cises that can help you grow stronger, here are three ex­er­cises that will help you build men­tal mus­cle in five min­utes or less:

1. Iden­tify three things you’re grate­ful for.

Count­ing your bless­ings—as op­posed to your bur­dens—has a big im­pact on your psy­cho­log­i­cal health. Stud­ies con­sis­tently show grat­i­tude in­creases hap­pi­ness and re­duces de­pres­sion.

Make grat­i­tude a daily habit by in­ten­tion­ally iden­ti­fy­ing three things you are grate­ful for in your life. It could be as sim­ple as feel­ing thank­ful for the clean wa­ter that comes out of your faucet or ap­pre­ci­at­ing the cool breeze on a warm day.

Stud­ies show you can phys­i­cally change your brain by mak­ing grat­i­tude a habit. Write in a grat­i­tude jour­nal, list the things you feel grate­ful for over din­ner, or make it a habit to iden­tify what you’re thank­ful for be­fore you go to bed. Over time, be­ing thank­ful be­comes like sec­ond na­ture and you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence ben­e­fits rang­ing from im­proved sleep to bet­ter im­mu­nity.

2. Prac­tice mind­ful­ness.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to stay strong when you’re re­hash­ing some­thing that hap­pened last week or when you’re pre­dict­ing hor­ri­ble things are go­ing to hap­pen to­mor­row. Mind­ful­ness is about stay­ing present in the mo­ment. And since the only time you can change your be­hav­ior is right now, it’s im­por­tant to be able to fo­cus on the here-and-now.

Sci­ence shows mind­ful­ness has a mul­ti­tude of phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits. Among those ben­e­fits are re­duced stress and a more com­pas­sion­ate in­ner di­a­logue.

So take a minute to just fo­cus on what’s go­ing on around you. Lis­ten to see what sounds you can hear. Look around the room and see what you no­tice. Do a quick scan of your body and pay at­ten­tion to how it feels.

With reg­u­lar prac­tice, you’ll in­crease your abil­ity to fo­cus—which is tough to do in to­day’s fast-paced world. And you’ll also be able to en­joy each mo­ment be­cause you’ll be less dis­tracted by yes­ter­day’s prob­lems and to­mor­row’s wor­ries.

3. Act “as if.”

It can be tempt­ing to wait un­til you feel dif­fer­ent to make a change. But wait­ing un­til you feel good about your­self be­fore ap­ply­ing for a pro­mo­tion or wait­ing un­til you feel happy to in­vite your friends out for a night on the town could back­fire.

In­stead, stud­ies show you should be­have like the per­son you want to be­come. When you change your be­hav­ior, your thoughts and your emo­tions will fol­low.

When you’re sad you might hunch your shoul­ders and look at the floor. Do­ing so keeps you in a de­pres­sive state. Put your shoul­ders back and smile, how­ever, and you’ll feel an in­stant boost in your mood.

And don’t ex­pect feel­ings of con­fi­dence to come out of nowhere. In­stead, ask your­self, how can I act con­fi­dent? even when you’re filled with self­doubt. Act­ing like a con­fi­dent per­son helps you feel surer of your­self. And re­search shows act­ing con­fi­dent even in­creases other peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in you.

Try ask­ing your­self what would a

men­tally strong per­son do? Then, act as if you feel strong al­ready. And you’ll grow a lit­tle stronger.

Do Your Men­tal Push Ups

Ev­ery day is an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop some men­tal mus­cle. Sim­ple, short ex­er­cises per­formed con­sis­tently over time will help you build men­tal strength.

Ad­di­tion­ally, pay at­ten­tion to the bad habits that rob you of men­tal strength. Feel­ing sorry for your­self, giv­ing up af­ter your first fail­ure, and giv­ing away your power are just a few of the bad habits that could wreak havoc on your men­tal weight lift­ing rou­tine. Giv­ing up those un­healthy habits will help you work smarter, not harder.

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