3 Habits of Mentally Strong People: How to be Mentally Strong

3 Habits of Mentally Strong People: How to be Mentally Strong

Mental strength is the key to handling life’s inevitable challenges and unlocking our most significant potential. However, it’s not an innate quality that some are lucky to have and others aren’t. Anyone can build mental strength by deliberately practicing supportive habits. This guide will define mental strength and provide science-backed techniques, real-world stories, and a transformation case study. By starting small and patiently strengthening your mental “muscle,” you too can become more mentally strong.

What Does It Mean to Be Mentally Strong?

Mental strength combines emotional intelligence, grit, resilience, and self-discipline that equips us to persevere through difficult emotions and circumstances to achieve our goals. It is characterized by the ability to neutralize negative thought patterns, tolerate discomfort, self-motivate, bounce back from failures, and exercise self-control.

While good mental health contributes to mental strength, one can suffer from anxiety, depression, or trauma and still foster high degrees of mental strength through conscious habits. Mental strength buffers people against mental health issues and hastens their recovery.

Habit 1: Embracing Change Instead of Fearing It

Fear of the unknown and desire for certainty often hold us back from growth opportunities. However, by consciously practicing adaptability, we can embrace change as the adventure it truly is.

Strategies to Embrace Change

  • Start small. Tackle innocuous changes first, like taking a new route home. Gradually build up to more significant changes.
  • Reframe change as growth. View obstacles and the unknown not as threats but as opportunities to learn. Maintain an open, curious mindset.
  • Lean on your support system. Voice your worries to close confidants. External reassurance can quiet inner doubts.

Embracing a Career Change: Mackenzie’s Story

Mackenzie dreaded going to her 9-6 office job every day, longing instead to be her boss. But the comfort of a stable salary paralyzed her from making a change. Finally, she set a timeline for small steps, like taking accounting classes at night. Her confidence grew with each accomplishment until she transitioned successfully into running her firm.

Habit 2: Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude shifts our focus from what we lack to the blessings we overlook every day. Developing a daily gratitude practice rewires our brains to become more positive, optimistic, and resilient in the face of hardship.

Simple Gratitude Practices

  • Keep a journal. Jot down 3-5 things you’re grateful for daily, from loved ones to simple comforts.
  • Thank someone. Express genuine appreciation to at least one person daily.
  • Share gratefulness socially. Post a weekly gratitude update on social media.

The Mental Strength Impact

Studies demonstrate that keeping a gratitude journal decreases materialism while increasing generosity, life satisfaction, enthusiasm, optimism, and connection through daily reorientation towards the positive.

A Veteran’s Story of Post-War Gratitude

Struggling with PTSD and depression after returning from war, Mark began seeing darkness everywhere. His counselor suggested trying a gratitude journal. The simple discipline of writing three blessings daily transformed his mindset within months. “…it was like clouds finally parting to reveal the sun was still there all along,” Mark shared.

Habit 3: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Implementing healthy personal boundaries requires identifying our limits and communicating them. This builds the mental strength of self-respect while earning the respect of others.

Identifying Your Limits

  • Tune inward. Through continuous self-reflection, grow more aware of any overextending activity that depletes your emotional or mental resources.
  • Allow imperfection. Perfectionistic tendencies that demand too much can disguise poor boundaries. Permit yourself not to over-stretch.
  • Listen to your body. Notice stress symptoms like fatigue, irritation, or stomachache as cues you may need a boundary.

Communicating Boundaries

  • Be specific. Clarify exactly what behaviors or expectations you are setting limits on. Vague boundaries get dismissed.
  • Be firm yet kind. Politely but unambiguously reinforce your boundaries when pressured.
  • Don’t justify. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your limits.

Jenny Learns Her Worth

Jenny automatically said yes to every favor she asked, terrified of letting others down. Overwhelmed by her ever-growing to-do list, she snaps at her family over minor annoyances. It wasn’t until Jenny clearly outlined time for self-care that she regained a healthy balance. Her mental strength blossomed, knowing her worth.

Cultivating Mental Strength Through Consistency

Like physical health, dedicating small amounts of daily time is superior to infrequent or short-lived efforts. Be compassionately patient with yourself on off days. Seek support from friends or professionals when you need motivation. With humble persistence, even modest steps will compound into transformational change.

Case Study: David’s Journey From Rock Bottom 

At age 52, David had nothing left to live for. His business sank in the 2008 recession, his wife left him, and he turned to alcohol for comfort. “I was the crying drunk hunched over the bar every night. I thought about ending it all,” David recalls.

After finally going through rehab, David found work as a car salesman, although problems continued plaguing him. “But one day, I just felt sick of being miserable all the time. I remembered that I alone could control my attitude.”

David started small – he committed to fixing a healthy breakfast every morning or writing in a gratitude journal once a week. “Some days, depression still dragged me down. But focusing daily on those little wins pulled me forward again.”

Within a year, David was thriving. He found love, got promoted at work through his dedication, and now actively volunteers for suicide prevention. “I can’t express how gratitude changed everything, giving me hope and courage I didn’t know was possible,” David shared.

Key Takeaways

  • Mental strength is built by deliberately practicing supportive habits every day. It grows through consistency over time.
  • Embracing change positively, keeping a gratitude journal, and setting healthy boundaries are three science-backed habits that improve mental strength and resilience.
  • Start with small, manageable steps, then patiently build momentum. Seek encouragement from supportive communities whenever you struggle.
  • Committing to daily mental strength habits, you can overcome deep-set patterns to become a healthier, happier version of yourself.


We all face external hardships and internal demons that require mental muscle. Yet, too often, we wrongly believe mental strength is innate or depends on eliminating all our troubles first. As the stories and techniques illustrate, real mental strength stems from practicing constructive habits, even in adversity, one day at a time.

In time, the mental strength you build will surprise you. Things that once seemed scary or impossible become possible. Because you’ve done the work each day of exercising courage, training wisdom, and expanding your capacity for life in all its unpredictability. You uncover that you are far more robust than you ever believed.