How to build Mental Strength

Updated: Jan 21

Life can be tough but there are lots of ways to make sure that you are prepared to deal with whatever life throws at you. Here are some of our ideas for building mental resilience.

We take care of our bodies so that we can carry out the physical tasks that we face in our day to day life, from getting out of bed in the morning to running a marathon and everything in between!


But what about mental strength? How can we build our mental resilience up to adapt and cope with the ups and downs of life and give ourselves the best chance to deal with things when they get really tough. As humans we’re hardwired to be able to cope with all sorts of things that happen to us in our lives and we have a natural strength that kicks in when we need it. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and can cope with so much more than we ever thought we could. We call this mental strength resilience.


However, mental resilience is something that we can all build and nurture within ourselves and can increase our ability to cope when life throws challenges our way but also in our day to day lives. It can also help you if you feel your anxiety is out of control

Here are some of our thoughts on how to build mental resilience and cope when the going gets tough.

Take each day as it comes.

Sometimes thinking too far ahead or trying to deal with everything that is going on in your life at once can get overwhelming. Try focusing on the here and now. Break things down into manageable chunks and focus on getting through each day or hour. Give yourself small achievable goals and reward yourself when you complete them. Getting through tough times happens minute by minute, you are doing it already, just keep going.


Change is part of life. Learn to embrace it.

Or at least accept it! Change can feel scary and uncertain but it can be a really positive thing. It is also a given. Life is full of change and no matter how much we try to prevent it, change will happen. Try to be curious and open to it. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned and things can happen in life that bring about changes that you didn’t expect or want. However, change also brings about new opportunities. As much as we might crave security and predictability life doesn’t always work like this, by being open to change (and expecting it!) we can grow our adaptability and resilience.

Learning to trust yourself and your ability to cope.

You have an incredible ability to cope with all sorts of things that life throws at you and you are probably emotionally and mentally stronger than you realise. Have faith in yourself and practice trusting yourself and the decisions you make. You have the mental strength to solve all sorts of problems and challenges, build your confidence to tap into this. You are your best guide!

Thinking about potential change or things that could happen can also lead to anxiety and unhelpful thinking. We never know what is around the corner, if you can, try to spend as much time as possible each day in the present moment and notice when you find yourself slipping into worrying or thinking a lot about the future. We’ll talk a bit more about this below.

Ways to practice Self-Care!

Now this probably won’t be news to you but taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is really important and we often forget to do this, especially in tough times. However it’s when things get tough that it’s even more important to look after yourself. Eating properly, exercising, socialising and resting are key to mental resilience and being able to cope. As tempting as it is to neglect them do your best to nourish and support yourself. Your body and mind need this and need you to look after them during these difficult times.


How to take control of your mind

Our minds can very easily take us down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts, unhelpful thinking and fear. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking but your thoughts do not control you. Practicetrying to recognise your thoughts as just being thoughts and try to step outside of them even if just for a few moments. Some people find meditation and mindfulness helpful to do this. Your thoughts don’t control you and sometimes our minds can torture us but we can choose not to succumb to this. Forcing yourself to recognise that your thoughts are running away from you is a really good place to start. Even if you can only step outside them for a few seconds to begin with, the more you practice the easier it will become.

How to be more assertive in life

Be honest with yourself and others about what you need. If someone is asking too much of you tell them! Be clear about what you can and can’t do and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Being clear and upfront with people can be helpful for you and them and can make sure you’re not overloading yourself, especially if things are tough.

It can also reduce uncertainty. By addressing something head on you reduce the need to worry about it. If it’s causing you stress take steps to sort it out.


Let yourself laugh…if you want to!


Never feel guilty for allowing yourself a little light relief. Even when you’re going through a really tough patch, it’s ok to feel happy at times, to laugh and to enjoy life. Try and make some time to do things you enjoy and to give yourself a break. A few minutes of laughter or playfulness can do wonders and can help you to keep going.


How to deal with your emotions


It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel however you feel and it’s good to let these emotions out! Whilst we wouldn’t recommend letting your emotions overwhelm you all the time, make sure you do allow yourself time to feel what you are feeling and get in touch with your emotions rather than try and force them away. Sometimes there’s a lot of pressure to feel a certain way or to aspire to always be ‘happy’, but actually all of our different emotions are equally valid and human beings are designed to experience a whole range.


How to be kind to yourself


We all too often beat ourselves up for struggling, for having ‘bad days’ or for not feeling or acting as we think we should. Make sure you show yourself some love and kindness and look after yourself. You’re doing great and there is no right way to be or to deal with difficult times, everyone is different and everyone copes in their own way. Show yourself compassion and love, you deserve it.

How to ask for support when you need it


Make sure that if you do need some extra support that you reach out and ask for it. There is lots of support out there but sometimes you need to take responsibility for getting your needs met. Whether it’s asking friends and family, using professional services or jumping on TalkCampus for a chat. Don’t suffer on your own!


Life is full of ups and downs, it’s a rollercoaster. Sometimes we feel able to cope and other times it’s much harder. By building your mental resilience you are strengthening your mental muscles ready for when you need them! Life can be seriously tough. But so can you!


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