The difference between Mental Health and Mental Strength
Mental health and mental strength are often indistinguishable as they get used in similar situations, however, they are not the same.
Mental health in most dictionaries is defined as “the absence of mental illness.” However, not having anxiety, depression, or any other illness does not mean you are mentally strong. It could, in fact, mean you are still mentally strong, even though you are dealing with mental health problems. Mental strength is the ability to feel, perform, and think at your very best.
The easiest way to compare mental health and mental strength is by comparing the differences between physical health and physical strength: physical strength may indeed be improved with building bigger muscles, but bigger muscles don’t always mean that you’ll never have to deal with a physical health issue, such as high cholesterol. A physical health issue may indeed make it slightly more difficult to go and workout at the gym, however, you can still choose those options that will help your physical strength, even if you have a physical health issue.
Exercises undertaken to grow your mental strength will also strengthen your mental health, and increased mental health makes it easier to increase mental strength.
- The presence or absence of a mental health issue
- The overall state of your mental well-being.
- The ability to deal with negativity in a healthy way.
- Understanding your emotions.
- Knowing when to engage with your emotions and knowing when to take a step back.
The three parts to Mental Strength
Mental strength includes the ability to think realistically. Knowing how to notice irrational thoughts and to giving them a more realistic inner monologue is key. It involves speaking to yourself in a kind way, and even when you may be feeling overly critical of yourself, having mental strength lets you respond to yourself with compassion.
Mental strength isn’t about denying your pain or suppressing your emotions; it’s about understanding and acknowledging how you are feeling. At times, that may involve Acknowledging and accepting an unpleasant emotion or perhaps calming yourself down before a hard conversation.
Mental strength is all about taking constructive actions. Maybe this means figuring out even when you are worn out or when you are letting yourself engage in self-care. It involves making sure that how you behave is good for you.
How to build Mental Strength
Absolutely anybody has the capability of building mental strength. Increasing your mental muscles takes exercise, in the same way as increasing your physical muscles does. Increasing mental strength can, in turn, increase your mental health. There are lots of exercises that will help to build your mental strength; below are some of the more basic ones to help you get started.
These exercises are methods that will enable you to think differently. It could involve any kind of exercise that will help you to think positively, address and refocus negative thoughts, or establish a more realistic mindset. Some examples of cognitive exercises are:
Write in a gratitude journal
Gratitude journals are a great way to build and strengthen positive feelings and thoughts.
Talk to yourself like a trusted friend
We, as humans, are often harder on ourselves than we are on our friends. So try to talk to yourself with the same compassion and empathy that you would give to your friends.
Argue the opposite
When you are thinking and convincing yourself that everything will go wrong, try to think the opposite, that everything could go right.
These exercises are methods that will enhance your self-awareness of your emotional state. Emotional exercises could help you to notice when your emotions are helpful or not. They could support you in noticing ideas that can help to reduce the intensity of your feelings. Or, they could help you to comprehend uneasy feelings. Some examples of emotional exercises are:
Label your feelings
Acknowledging your feelings as feelings can often let you gain some distance from them. It can help you to think more clearly and logically and let you gain a better perspective on the emotions or problems you are dealing with. Try not to focus on the negative emotions, instead, you could go for a walk, give yourself a bit of a pep talk, or read a good book. It’s not an attempt to ignore your feelings, or avoid them, however, these ideas can help to relieve the painful emotions a little.
These exercises are all about doing things that are good for you and getting up and doing them. These are actions that will help you put on your peak performance and help you feel better. Some examples of behavioral exercises are:
Perform behavioral experiments
By performing behavioral experiments, you can challenge the unproductive and self-limiting thoughts far easier
Schedule positive activities
Making time for the things you enjoy can always help your mental well-being. So be sure to take some time for making a nice meal for yourself or having a hot bath before bed. Whether your hobbies are baking or taking photos, they will engage your mind in something you enjoy. Hobbies bring with them a sense of accomplishment, which can give you a boost and make you feel great about yourself.
Mental strength is often misunderstood by a lot of people. Many think that being strong is all about shedding no tears during sad movies or not acknowledging feelings of hurt. It takes more strength to disallow the expression and experience of normal emotions, however. There isn’t any weakness in showing your emotions.
Likewise, try to avoid believing that mentally strong people never ask for help. Admitting you don’t have all the answers, or recognizing if you need help takes an extremely mentally strong person.
If you would like to know more about building mental strength, be sure to ask for help. There are mental health professionals that can help you develop your mental strength which will help you feel, think, and do so that you can live your best life.