To succeed in life, it takes much more than just physical strength. One must also have a strong mind. Mental strength is the ability to be fully aware of your emotions as well as your thoughts and use them to perform constructive actions in your life. This type of strength demands that you respond instead of reacting to situations in your life. Maintaining mental strength can be described as living in a state of mindfulness. This type of strength is not something that you are born with. It is a skill that you can learn, develop and master over time. Here are 10 activities that will increase your mental strength.

Eliminate your extrinsic sources of motivation

There are two types of motivation. These are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside you while extrinsic motivation comes from external factors. One way to develop mental strength is to get rid of all the extrinsic motivators. These include your status, cash bonuses, material rewards, companions and creature comforts. This will help you to see if your internal sources of motivation are strong enough. Intrinsic motivation is the source of mental strength. It helps you to overcome adversity even when every part of you wishes that you would quit. If you want to develop your mental strength, seek to eliminate external boosters and see if your internal one is as strong as you think.

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Take some deep breaths

A big part of developing mental strength is knowing how to maintain your cool and boost your concentration. One way of doing this is taking a few deep breaths. Whenever you are under emotional or physical stress, breathe in deeply a few times. This will boost the levels of oxygen in your blood and equip you with the energy that you need to make an effort of regaining your composure and staying the course. Taking deep breaths boosts concentration and focus. These are also traits of mental strength which are well known to increase your overall performance.

Use your mental energy in a wise way

To boost your mental strength, you should always seek to conserve mental energy. This is the ability to purposefully focus on something and get it done. Too often, we waste our mental energy by worrying about things that are beyond our control. When we worry about problems which we cannot solve, we have much less energy to utilize in a wise way solving the problems that are in our control. Instead of worrying about things, accept the circumstances and change what you can. Focus on yourself and make progress.

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Develop constructive habits

One of the traits of mentally strong people is consistency. By understanding that motivation is seasonal, they maintain a strict regimen and do not skip any activity that promotes their mental strength. They consistently keep their attention on the things that they consider important. This is the secret to their success. One way to develop consistency is to create a constructive habit. Create a pattern of actions that force you to pursue your goals no matter how much you are tempted to quit. It takes 30 days for a habit to stick. Create a positive one and begin today.

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Smile at your challenges

There is an old saying that goes, "Grin and bear it". This one indicates that whenever you are in pain, simply smile wide and bear it. Despite its unusual instruction, this saying has some nuggets of truth behind it. If you are experiencing some emotional or physical pain, smiling can actually reduce the discomfort significantly. When you smile, your heart rate decreases and the body begins to release your feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. As such, smiling right through your challenges helps you to boost your mental strength.

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Practice yoga

For hundreds of years, people have practised yoga to boost their overall wellbeing. Not only does this age-old practice reduce your levels of stress, it boosts the levels of a particular neurotransmitter. This one is known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). High levels of this neurotransmitter normally work to reduce anxiety and boost mental tenacity. These two effects culminate in higher levels of mental strength. As such, learn how to do yoga at home or join a yoga class, this would already give you a wealth of good.

Ignore what you cannot control

Stoicism is a philosophy that encourages its followers to endure hardship and pain without showing any emotion or discomfort whatsoever. This pattern of behavior is explained in a book known as "The Obstacle is the Way" written by Ryan Holliday. In life, the important factor is not the things which happen to you but the way you react to them. You may not have control over the circumstances occurring around you but you have total control over how you react to them. If you can't control something, don't react to it. Go on as if nothing happened. This is the way to boost mental strength.

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Engage in some regular exercise

Many scientific studies indicate that physical activity actually contributes to better mental health. An exercise routine that is as simple as walking for half an hour boosts your mental health and strength. You are able to keep negative thoughts at bay and beat conditions such as depression. Some studies even regarded light exercise to have the same effect as antidepressant medication. If you want to boost your mental strength, begin by exercising.

Analyze and determine your core beliefs

We all have a collection of core beliefs that we accept about ourselves. We extend them to our perspective of the world. These beliefs are created in our minds over the length of our lives. They are created by our experiences in the past or curated by those who raised us. These beliefs have a significant impact on our emotions, behavior and thoughts. Some of the core beliefs that you hold on to are inaccurate and do not bring about any positive effect. For example, you may have the belief that you won't make it in life because you are from a small town or because you are not as smart as your competition. Perform a self-analysis of these core beliefs and get rid of the ones which are holding you back. After that, affirm the ones which build you up such as the belief that you can make it despite your circumstances. Doing this boosts your mental strength and tenacity.

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Recognize your progress and reward yourself

As you make an effort to improve your mental strength, always look to reflect upon the progress that you have made so far. At the end of the day, identify the activities which you did to show that you have actually made progress. Like many positive things in life, developing your mental strength is always a work in progress. Seek to make small improvements every day and reward yourself for work well done. This will help you to stay motivated to keep on building your mental strength.

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The Important Take Away

Mental strength is a highly beneficial quality to have. It helps you to overcome the challenges that emerge in life. It also assists you to achieve your goals and experience the life which you desire. As such, it is important to practice the steps listed above so as to develop mental strength. It makes you a stronger, happier and a wiser human being overall.