Strength training is commonly thought of as a bodybuilding technique. Lean muscle. Six pack abs. Toned biceps. Those outward indicators that show you are highly motivated and disciplined.
There’s another kind of strength training. I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say it’s far more difficult, more important and much more desirable than physical strength training.
The discipline it takes to crawl outta bed and drag yourself to the gym day in and day out is paramount to … constantly listening to Fran Drescher’s nasally voice. Until you begin to see the “relationship” between your body and the gym it can be absolute torture to stick with the routine.
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Mental and Emotional Strength Training.
It’s the same with your mental and emotional wellbeing. Sure, you can drag out the paint, post a few affirmatives on your mirror and try to get that meditative yoga or walk in everyday but in the end how often do you end up skipping it? Doesn’t a bag of chips and a netflix binge just sound more satisfying?
Honestly? It does. So how do you get to the gym everyday? What about a wellness practice your excited to stay with? And those negative thoughts are not going to just go away because you don’t like them anymore.
Some personal trainers encourage their clients to NOT pursue diet and exercise for strength training. They want their clients focusing on healthy lifestyle changes and meal options. This is a change in mindset as well as actions. Creating a training and eating plan instead of diet and exercise, you’re creating a plan for growth and abundance instead of deprivation and difficulty. What could this possibly have to do with mental health and art?
Well, for starters. How many times do we push to stop thinking negative thoughts only for them to collapse on us like an avalanche? Turns out, its true. What you think about most … you get more of. As in, if I’m thinking about NOT thinking about negative thoughts, I’m thinking MORE about negative thoughts! BAH!!!
Fine… What else? What are you mentally training for? Do you have a specific goal in mind for your life once you are mentally strong? Sounds crazy, right? If you don’t know HOW you want to live, or what kind of life you want you won’t get there. Simply put. If you don’t know where you’re going you won’t know if you get there.
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. ~Cheshire Cat
A mental roadmap is the same idea as a physical roadmap. We each have different body compositions just like we have different mental and emotional composition. Meaning. The things you desire are not necessarily what other people desire. One person’s metabolism and body composition may allow them to build massive muscle mass. Someone else’s composition may only build lean or toned muscle. I know for certain, no matter how hard I may train, I will never have muscle mass worthy of competition. Totally okay with that.
Being mentally and emotionally strong looks completely different based on the individual. One of the big first steps is recognizing you have gifts, talents and abilities that are unique to you. If you’ve had trauma and/or abuse of any kind in your life these may be incredibly difficult to uncover. A mental and emotional roadmap is a great place to begin. You don’t have to know exactly who you are or where you’re going to create this roadmap, all you need is the whisper of a thought that points you, to you.
For a person interested in strength training that road map may look like…
- increase muscle mass 10%
- decrease BMI to 25%
- Increase weight/sets 15 lbs/ 5 sets
If we were to apply this thinking to a mental and emotional roadmap…
- Focus, purposefully, on being present for 15 minutes a day
- Limit contact with negative people/friends weekly
- Choose 3 activities weekly to help experience “flow” state
- Practice “12 Minute Art” daily
- Strive to have 2 interactions with new people and maintain 3 established relationships interactions a week
Taking action for resilience
Small, appropriate actions, not momentous giant leaps are what build strength. Physical strength training is “rebuilding” a body, over time, in a specific way it has not experienced before. Same with emotional and mental strength training. The stress and trauma you may have experienced previously was not originally a part of your being. Again. This takes time, recognition of past and present pain and “rebuilding” the brain, heart and soul for strength and resilience.
You can do this slowly. Day by day. As strange as it may sound, creating a spot in your bullet journal, I like this one or adding a section in your planner may be the easiest way to make certain you embrace mental health. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Quick reminders spread out during the week and planned, literally planned. As in, make a date and time with yourself just as you would your primary care or dentist appointments.
It really is what happens in the middle, around the edges and in between that builds your life. Or, conversely, tears it apart.