The economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating. According to the World Economic Outlook Report April 2021 by the IMF, the global economy contracted by 3.5% in 2020. The COVID-19 global recession is the deepest on record in the post-world-war-II era. The US unemployment rate reached 14.8% in April 2020, the highest rate since the end of World War II[i]. Various researchers throughout the year 2020 found that symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress were common reactions to this global pandemic and economic hardships are among the biggest reasons behind them. But findings of one recent research[ii] suggested that mental toughness may have some utility in reducing the adverse mental health effects of the pandemic on individuals.
While various restrictions have been relaxed and the rise in employment has eased strains on household budgets, still, the employment rate remains low and millions report that they are not getting enough to meet various household expenses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a large number of people who are unable to work just because their employer closed or lost business due to the current pandemic. So, if someone wants to reduce the adverse effects of ongoing economic crises on his or her mental health then he or she must possess a greater level of mental toughness or mental strength.
Mental toughness or mental strength is the ability of an individual to deal with obstacles, challenges, and setbacks and keep on moving irrespective of the circumstances. Whenever mentally strong people feel stuck, they break the mold and adopt a new direction.
Well, you would be thinking it’s easy, no, not at all – it’s not as easy as it sounds. People get stuck when they confront hazards and disasters, and if they are mentally strong they strive to produce consistent results irrespective of the situation. Mentally strong people believe that confronting adversities would bring the best version of themselves, so they confidently deal with setbacks.
How important is it to be mentally strong?
With mental strength, you may train your brain to think differently, rationally, and realistically because mental strength enables you to regulate your thoughts – and when you do so, you never get caught into the trap of overthinking as well as overcome pessimistic or over-optimistic thinking.
Mental strength is among those traits that most successful people possess. With greater mental strength, you would be able to perform at your peak – you will reach your greatest potential.
Having greater mental strength will help you to control your emotions. It does not mean that people having greater mental strength are not aware of their feelings, they do notice their feelings more than anyone else does but they have the courage to behave contrary to their emotions, they have the courage to come out of their comfort zone. The more you will come out of your comfort zone, the more you will be able to control your emotions. Mental strength will enable you to say goodbye to ridiculous excuses you usually make just to get out of trouble or to avoid taking responsibilities – because mental strength means keep moving regardless of the circumstances.
Mental toughness makes you more resilient because when you don’t get discouraged; when you confront failures and work consistently without complaining about circumstances, you easily bounce back and move on. This way, it enables you to learn from your past mistakes. It’s a source of motivation that lets you ignore past failures and find strengths within yourself.
When you have a greater level of mental strength, you don’t give others power over you – you don’t let them influence you. You stick to your goal and don’t let others’ negative energy bring adversity to your life. You gain self-acceptance and work consistently for self-improvement.
Habits of people having greater mental toughness
They remain stuck to their values and goals: People having mental strength strongly believe in defining their goals. They define goals, split those goals into actionable steps, and most importantly don’t get distracted from their goals while confronting challenging circumstances. They know about their values and remain stick to them even if the situation is totally unfavorable for them
They believe in skill acquisition and improvement: Mentally strong people acknowledge the importance of up-to-date knowledge and skills – this is why they acquire new skills as well as improve existing ones. Because skill acquisition helps them enhance their capabilities and on the basis of these capabilities, they are able to move on even in the face of adversity.
They pay attention to their mental health: People having greater levels of mental toughness never ignore their mental health. They always try to find ways that may help them to strengthen their mental health including yoga, meditation, and other mental strengthening exercises. They also engage in exposure therapy to face and overcome their fears – as facing fears successfully is also under the definition of mental toughness
They accept that change is the only constant thing in life: When people start believing that only change is the thing in life that is constant, they learn to effectively deal with change. With a change accepting mindset, people welcome challenges wholeheartedly. When they accept change, they come to know which of the things are under control and which are out of control; then they shift their focus towards those things that are controllable and ignore those that are truly out of control.
They turn adversity into opportunity: It’s the habit of mentally strong people that they passionately confront adversities to become the best version of themselves and thus turn adversities into opportunities. Ryan Holiday explained this in his book titled “Obstacle is the way”. Its subtitle is: “The timeless art of turning trials into triumph. People who have experienced hardships also reveal a heightened appreciation for life”.
They believe in strong relationships with people around them: Mentally strong people have control over their emotions, so they don’t have any big conflict with others and their relationships with others are stronger.
Factors upon which mental strength or mental toughness depends:
- Consistent self-encouragement as well as encouragement from others
- Positive thinking and a positive attitude
- Stress and anxiety management
- Childhood learning practices
- The extent of empowerment you have as a child and as an adult (The more you will empower children in their childhood, the more will be their mental strength)
- Motivation from the role models
So, in this situation of economic downturn and uncertainty, everyone needs a greater level of mental strength to successfully deal with trials. While various researches support the idea that pandemic caused by COVID-19 has adverse impacts upon the economic and social life of people, and these circumstances have put the mental health of millions at risk – the mental health statistics[iii] draw attention to major health crises affecting several nations. There is a strong need for coaching sessions for children, adults, and students of all levels to strengthen their mental toughness, so that they may be able to deal with the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Think differently and work on skills and attitudes associated with the greater level of mental toughness.
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