Over my career, there have been times I have need mental toughness, resilience to see things thru.
In this article, I want to talk about how I went about this so you too can build mental toughness to get thru those not-so-easy times.
I’m Dr. Andrew Arnold from Million Dollar Wellness.
The way I see it, our nervous system is like a muscle. It has elastic properties that help bend and flex enabling us to adapt and navigate life’s challenges. Some might call this neuroplasticity.
Like any muscle we need to strengthen and condition it, building resilience, so we cannot only be ready to manage additional workload but also resist and recover from injury much, much faster.
So, how do we strengthen this so-called muscle?
As I stated, I have had experiences that have stretched my resilience to the limit? From business partnership separation to practice relocation to trial by media. This made me reflect on what it is that got me thru. There were certainly times I felt on rock bottom where I just didn’t care anymore. I was numb and dis-connected no longer even feeling emotion. This was scary however, the self-care lessons I learned were invaluable.
1. Surround yourself with the ‘right’ people! Choose carefully who you talk to at times of crisis. Are they qualified, have they had similar experiences, are they still caught up in their own stuff… Oftentimes friends and family mean well however, are too close to give you the tough love we usually need to get out of the rut.
2. Apply rational behavioral thinking, RBT. Ask yourself objective questions. Is anyone hurt? Are you and your family OK? What’s the worst that could happen? What’s going on here? The voice in the back of our heads, our sub-conscious ego will try and talk you out of rational thinking. Don’t listen. You need to literally tell that voice to ‘shut up’ and then come back to the facts.
3. Avoid connecting the dots. In times of crisis, it is normal to throw everything into the same bucket. This is called catastrophizing or adding meaning! Be careful not to connect events by making it mean that one impacts the other. This is rarely the case at least not the way you might think given your current state of mind. Apply RBT, create a mind-map and get a wider perspective.
4. Focus on what you’re great at. In times of challenge, this is all we focus on, the challenge! And the more we focus the bigger it becomes. We indulge our ego’s. Try focusing on what you’re good at, the wins. For example, you’ve been a successful Chiropractor for the past 20 odd years without incident, you have an awesome, stable and supportive team, loving and loyal patient’s, you and your family are healthy and well… Give yourself that pat on the back you’re deserved.
5. Keep breathing. Mental toughness is about not reacting, poise and steadfastness. Take a step back. Imagine a drone flying higher and higher. The higher it goes the wider and wider the perspective and the smaller and smaller your particular challenge appears. Breathing, meditating will help you elevate your vibration and see things from an entirely different perspective.
6. See the humor. Someone said to me, ‘Andrew, life’s a game. Take is seriously, strategist, take care with your actions and decisions…but not too seriously. Be the interested observer, remove the emotion’. Challenges and difficulties can be simply absurd, inconceivably ridiculous whilst another interesting dilemma’s that require problem-solving. See it for what it is!
7. It’s not real. For the most part, what we think is happening is more about the story we have created around it, the meaning we add to it. Again, talk to your trusted mentors and get an objective view. Be mindful of the story you are telling yourself over and over!
8. It will pass. Time heals everything. Everything will pass. Mental toughness is about staying the course, patience, and perseverance. Think carefully about your actions each day. What do you need to do on a daily basis to move to the next day and so on?
9. Journal. Write it down. This will help you ‘brain dump’ and objectively see what’s happening.
10. Use a project/task application. Again, this will help off-load what’s swimming around in your brain. Delineate between over-arching qrtly projects, monthly goals, weekly and daily tasks. Understand the relevance of what you do today and the bigger picture. Create mind-maps.
11. Feel the love. Listen and read all the positive feedback often. Your community needs you and loves you. Acknowledge this and take it on board.
12. Do something you love. Exercise, ride your motorcycle, swim, listen to music, walk your dog…nurture your bliss point.
13. Sleep. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. No tech at least an hour before bed. Turn everything to ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ and don’t be seduced into checking your Facebook status every 2 minutes. Crisis and challenge cause anxiety and this will drive you into a state of hyper-vigilance.
14. Eat well. Sounds straightforward, but without the right nutrition and hydration, you cannot build mental toughness. And let’s face it when we’re under the pump this is when this gets neglected.
15. Build your team. I talked about care about choosing the ‘right’ people around you. Think of Team YOU. Who’s on your team: Counsellor, Chiropractor, Personal trainer, Dentist, Accountant, Financial planner… You’ll notice I didn’t include a spouse. Your spouse, whilst you may think needs to be there is usually not the best person and leaning too heavily can negatively impact a relationship. Manage your challenges outside of your relationship wherever possible.
Mental toughness and resilience are about returning to your heart center as often as you need to. Calling on your team for support, and applying all these strategies.
Over time this muscle will become more conditioned and your ability to weather the storms more and more effective and easy.
This is how I build mental toughness.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor and CEO of Million Dollar Wellness