Some people crumble at the first sign of adversity. A flat tire, a rainy forecast or a parking ticket can stress them out for an extended period of time.
Other people, however, rise to whatever challenge life throws their way. They have an incredible knack for turning setbacks into comebacks, and they tackle hardships with vigor.
Through my years as a therapist, I’ve taken careful note of what seems to help people stay mentally strong when they face life’s toughest challenges. While I describe what robs people of mental strength in my book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, here are eight ways I’ve found mentally strong individuals refuse to let stress drag them down.
1. They accept that stress is part of life
Mentally strong people don’t work themselves into a frenzy asking, “Why do these things always happen to me?” Instead, they know that stress is part of everyday life, and they accept that obstacles and problems are part of the journey.
2. They recognize the early signs of stress
Rather than ignoring or minimizing signs of stress, mentally strong people are in tune with the ways in which it influences their mood, attitude and even their body. They use this information to create positive changes before they become completely overwhelmed.
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3. They choose to view stress as an opportunity
While tough times can drag you down, adversity can also be a chance to shine. Mentally strong people view stress as an opportunity to build their mental muscle. With each challenge, they strive to grow stronger and commit to becoming better.
4. They seek help when they need it
They recognize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. Mentally strong people know their limits, and they’re not afraid to reach for a helping hand when they need it
5. They modify the environment
Rather than endure unnecessary stress for the sake of it, mentally strong people are open to creating change. They know that sometimes a minor change to their environment can make a big difference in their stress level. Whether they choose to sit near a more positive coworker or they opt out of being part of a committee that would be a headache, they focus on the things they can control.
6. They remember to play
One of the best ways to combat negative emotions is by experiencing positive feelings. Mentally strong people participate in leisure activities, surround themselves with positive people and make time to do what they love. The more stress they experience, the more fun they choose to have.
7. They change the channel
Unless they’re working to actively solve a problem, mentally strong people don’t waste time thinking about their hardships. When they find themselves rehashing their problems or dwelling on the negative, they proactively change the channel in their minds. They distract themselves with positive activities that provide immediate stress relief.
Read more: 3 Ways to Be More Mindful Every Day
8. They keep their long-term goals in mind
Even though a tight deadline or difficult project can be stressful today, mentally strong people know that those problems are small in the grand scheme of life. They focus on their long-term goals and keep today’s issues in perspective.