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Thomas Drew of 1and1 life
Wellness
Published Friday Feb 19, 2021 by Thomas Drew

How to Increase Mental Strength

Personal Growth
Motivation
Expert Advice

When was the last time you stopped to evaluate your mental strength? It’s an important part of your overall wellness—one we often neglect, especially as young Black men. It’s time to take a closer look at what it means to be mentally strong and what you can do to get there. When you begin taking steps to improve your mental fortitude, you’ll see for yourself just how valuable it is. 

What is mental strength?

First things first: mental strength is an enormous component of mental health, but it isn’t the only part of being mentally healthy. You can have a mental illness diagnosis, like depression or anxiety, while also being mentally strong (especially when your condition is well controlled). Your mental toughness is all about self-awareness and self-confidence, resilience, and the ability to handle whatever challenges life throws your way. It’s also about practicing self-acceptance and being kind to yourself even when things don’t go as planned.

Does all this sound like you—or is this unfamiliar territory? Unfortunately, even in 2021, talking about our mental and emotional health is stigmatized. As a society, we’re overdue for an attitude adjustment about mental wellness and self-care. It’s high time we learned to speak more openly about our thoughts, feelings, and moods and how we can improve our mental strength. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it can help us to improve our self-esteem, work toward building resilience, and enjoy positive emotions more frequently. 

Black men and mental health

I feel like I need to be honest, and speak candidly here—or else it wouldn’t be authentically me. As young Black men, we’re especially reticent to discuss our mental states. This is due in large part to us believing that others will perceive us as weak if we talk openly about our emotions. If we can be brave enough to speak up and make vulnerability commonplace, we can make it safer and easier for others to do the same. As a united community, we can end the shame surrounding mental and emotional health issues by making these conversations the nucleus of true change. We’re all in this together, and no one should ever feel alone. Vulnerability, in this instance, is the ultimate strength.

It’s easier to navigate life when you find someone who is in the same place you are—but finding that person can be a challenge. That’s why I want to encourage anyone reading this to be brave in revealing what’s going on inside of your mind. When you have the guts to speak up, you’ll be amazed at how quickly other people will empathize with your experiences and share their own.

How can you improve your mental and emotional health?

Changing your outlook requires more than merely thinking positive thoughts. Let’s explore the habits of mentally strong people and how those behaviors can improve our own mental and emotional wellness. 

1. Practice mindfulness

If you’ve never experienced mindfulness meditation before, now is a great time to give it a try. Mindfulness exercises are simple behaviors that quiet your brain and bring you back to the present moment. If you struggle with persistent negative thoughts, meditating can help you to learn to direct your attention to calmer and happier places. Its benefits include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as better sleep and lower blood pressure. Do you want to get started? Check out these helpful mindfulness tips, which you can incorporate into your life as soon as today. 

2. Stay physically healthy

Your physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. That’s why it’s so important to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get a good night’s sleep. Aim for at least five days of exercise per week, with a minimum of thirty minutes per day. If you’re pressed for time or aren’t a gym person, try going for a brisk walk on your lunch hour or after work. When you’re exercising for mental health, it’s important that you find an activity you really enjoy. You might also ask your doctor if using a mood-boosting supplement, like Onnit New Mood, is a good choice for you. 

3. Write in a journal

Here’s another way to boost your mental strength: try writing in a self-affirmation journal. A self-affirmation journal is a safe place to reflect on who you are, what you’re all about, and where you want to go. It’s a great way to practice speaking kindly about yourself and to remember all the good you bring to the world around you. You can purchase a journal with helpful self-esteem prompts or use a plain notebook and these free prompts. Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to do this—whatever helps you to practice self-acceptance and celebrate your achievements is perfect for you. 

4. Ask for help when you need it

I know it’s not easy to reach out and ask for help, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you haven’t been feeling your best, it’s smart to seek support from the caring people in your life. It could be as simple as venting your fears and frustrations to a friend or asking your boss for an extension on a work deadline. Or, if you’ve been feeling unwell for some time, you might need to check in with your general practitioner or a mental health specialist. In any case, you aren’t weak for asking for help when you need it. As a matter of fact, admitting that you could use some emotional support and empathy means you’re strong and self-aware. 

5. Find your people

Speaking of friends, life is so much better with good people by your side. Remember that we’re all on this journey together and that leaning on one another is how we survive and thrive. When you find friends who really understand you, support you and champion you, you want to hold onto them for dear life. And while it isn’t always easy to make new friends as an adult, it’s still possible. Wherever you find your people—at work, at school, at the gym, or on a digital app—you should make them a priority. Your friendships can improve your self-esteem and help you to meet life’s challenges head-on.

6. Train your subconscious

Once I figured out how to reprogram my subconscious mind, it did wonders for my mental strength and overall mental health. I’m huge on fitting autosuggestion, visualization, and daily-affirmations into your routine. Using myself as an example, in order to train and reframe my subconscious, I repeat this phrase to myself 20 times in the morning when I wake up, and 20 times at night before I go to sleep: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Along with gratitude journaling, I visualize my goals and imagine that I can see, touch, and feel the end result of me achieving them. My favorite books on the subconscious and these daily philosophies are Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mldinow.   

As you may have guessed, mental strength isn’t developed overnight, but we can all take steps to improve. Just like our biceps, triceps, hamstrings and quads, our brain is a muscle—and the most important one that we have. Without aligning ourselves mentally, we won’t get the most out of ourselves physically. As you spend more time and energy on building your self-esteem and sense of resilience, be patient with yourself. Every small choice or change you make is an excellent step in the right direction. Because at the end of the day, small steps equal great distances. Now let’s take those first few steps. 

 

About the author
Thomas Drew co-founded 1AND1 Life with Corey Lewis in 2017, while completing his graduate studies at Columbia University. He left his position at a marketing agency, where he drove results for brands like Samsung/Verizon and The U.S. Army to focus on 1AND1 Life full time. Growing up, he was self-conscious about his body. Basketball was his saving grace, and 1AND1 Life is a product of his love for brand-building and storytelling colliding with his passion for health, wellness, and self-improvement.
stress definition
Wellness
Published Thursday May 06, 2021 by Denise Prichard

How Stress Has Impacted These 10 US Cities

Fitness
Self-care
Mental health

Welcome to my regular cadence of blog posts where we talk about—you guessed it—stress. This past year, we’ve been talking about it A LOT. If that’s not the understatement of the century, then I don’t know what is. Oh, and ICYMI April was Stress Awareness Month—and even though that month is over that doesn’t mean our “awareness” of the stress in our lives just magically disappears. Ask me how I know. In fact, I was stressed even thinking of a title for this piece. STRESS IS REAL PEOPLE. 

With 67% of adults reporting their stress levels have skyrocketed over this past year, odds are you’ve probably been plagued by this unfortunate feeling quite a bit. In fact, it’s been so overwhelmingly apparent that stress plays a big role in most of our day-to-day lives that it was a major component of the 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index. This year, the survey set out to understand who has been affected the most by surveying the 50 most populous cities in the US.  

If you see your city on this list, please know that you are not alone and there are many ways to combat stress—like chilling out in a yoga class, venting in your journal, and leaning on your bestie for advice. Heck—we even have a guide to help you learn how to keep your chill.  

So, without further ado, here are the most stressed-out cities in the US according to our Mindbody Wellness Index.  

1. Oakland, CA  

I hate to break it to you, Oaklanders—but you topped our list as the most-stressed city in the US. But you all aren’t just succumbing to pressure—you also said you’re making a solid effort to get your health and wellness back on track. Out of all the cities on this list, you had the highest number of people who used meditation as a stress reducer during the pandemic (30%).  

Now that we’re starting to get back to some form of normalcy, might I suggest taking a stroll around your neighborhood and appreciating the sizable gnome population as an instant mood-booster?  

2. Minneapolis, MN 

Coming in at number two is Minneapolis. Unfortunately, 61% of you reported feeling an abundance of stress during the pandemic. However, like Oakland, you’re also making some serious strides to decrease your stress by leaning into your fitness routines. How are you doing this? By focusing on weight and strength training, partaking in cardio, and practicing yoga.  

Minneapolis—if you’re ever feeling stressed, just remember that your city is home to one of the greatest musicians of all time—Prince. So go ahead and “Party Like it’s 1999” whenever you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

3. Oklahoma City, OK  

Next up is Oklahoma City.  While you experience a great deal of stress, you’re also making some serious moves to increase happiness and wellness with 63% of you exercising once a week or more. However, you also had the smallest percentage of folks putting more focus on health and wellness throughout the past year. 

Here’s a fun fact that may just put a smile on your face—Oklahoma City recently adopted the nickname “The Big Friendly.”  

4. El Paso, TX 

El Paso does sit pretty high up on this list in the number four spot. Y’all may want to pay special attention to catching some z’s each night since you had the highest percentage of folks lacking in the sleep department—which is a major contributor to stress. On top of that, you also said you feel the least connected to their community among the 50 cities surveyed. 

There’s nothing that a giant dose of Vitamin D can’t fix (at least that’s what my doctor says)—so get outside and enjoy the 302 days of sunshine that your city has to offer! 

5. Los Angeles, CA 

Ahhh the City of Angels. According to our survey, you came in as the fifth most-stressed city. But in true LA fashion you are using healthy coping mechanisms to regain a peaceful state of mind—almost 80% of you exercise once a week or more. Also, literally like none of you smoke which can also help you find balance.  

There are a lot of fun facts about your city, but I decided to hit with a funny fact instead. Did you know that Charlie Sheen once bought 2,615 outfield seats at Angels Stadium so he could catch a home run ball? And guess what—he walked out empty-handed.  

6. Tulsa, OK 

Unlike LA, Tulsa has the most smokers out of all the cities on this list. You also don’t make exercise a top priority with your city ranking third to last in exercising consistently and second to last in getting a good night’s sleep.  

Mmmbop...sorry for getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day—but we have your city to thank for the Hanson brothers. Also, does anybody else think they are the Russian Dolls on this season of The Masked Singer, or is that just me?  

7. New Orleans, LA 

To say your city has been through a lot over the years would be an understatement. This year, we also learned you were in the bottom ten for having close relationships with family and friends—which isn’t surprising given the fact that we were all forced to shelter-in-place for the majority of the year.  Hopefully, as fitness studios and wellness businesses start to welcome more and more people back, the stress you are all experiencing will quickly dissipate.  

With vaccines becoming more available to the general public, happy hours are a thing again! Get together with some of your friends and (responsibly) enjoy some  iconic drinks your city has to offer.  

8. Miami, FL 

Though your city made this list for experiencing high stress, you also topped the list for several wellness practices. In fact, 86% of you say you get a good workout sesh in once a week or more. On top of that, you were quick to take advantage of virtual fitness classes, with 75% of you saying you regularly work out from home. You are also the number one city to receive massages, partake in strength training group classes, aerobics, and dance fitness classes.  

I think we can all agree that any demonstration of girl power is something to be happy about. Did you know that your city is the only major US city to be founded by a woman? It’s true—Miami officially became a city in 1896 after local businesswoman Julia Tuttle encouraged one railroad mogul to expand into the area. 

9. Altana, GA 

Seventy-one percent of you turned to health and wellness when the pandemic made our daily routines come to a screeching halt. You stepped up by taking advantage of health and life coaching the most out of any other city and you also came in second for using meditation to de-stress during the pandemic. 

Hi—it’s me again here to hit you with not one but TWO funny facts about Atlanta. Did you know that it was once illegal to put an ice cream cone in your back pocket? Oh, and it’s also illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole. Umm what. 

10. Denver, CO 

Denver—you may have made this list, but you’re straight up flexing to help combat stress. In fact, you top the list when it comes to incorporating weight and strength training into your workout routines. On top of that, 20% of you are also tapping into a blissful state of mind by practicing yoga regularly.  

As Matthew McConaughey once cleverly said, the "man who invented the hamburger was smart," but the "man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius." Well, Denver, that genius just happens to be from your city. Louis Ballast began selling them in 1935 at the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In.  

If your city made this list, don’t...stress? There are a number of classes available to you on the Mindbody app that are designed to help you keep calm and carry on. Or, if you want to take your at-home routine to the next level, you can get your daily dose of virtual chill pills by booking classes through Mindbody Flex.   

denise prichard
Written by
Denise Prichard
Marketing Content Specialist
About the author
Denise Prichard is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and an experienced content marketing professional with a penchant for writing compelling copy within the health, wellness and beauty industries. When she isn't writing or editing, you can find her teaching yoga classes, at a spin class or hanging out with her rescue pups.