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3 Habits that Will Help Build Mental Strength

Mental strength is important for every aspect of our lives – but what exactly is it?

Mental strength can look like:

Getting up when life knocks you down.

Staying disciplined despite lacking motivation.

Competing against yourself instead of others.

Facing challenges head on.

Being mentally strong means that you can cope with negative emotions in a healthy way.

It means you can think realistically, acknowledge your feelings (positive and negative!) and act accordingly.

Here are three habits that will help build mental strength:

#1 Visualization

When we visualize a particular outcome, focusing on the specific images, associated feelings, and finer details, we show our brain the desired outcome. The more we visualize a particular situation, the better we can convince our brain to believe in it. Studies have shown that mentally imagining an outcome actually alters brainwave activity and biochemistry.

Let’s say that our goal is building mental strength. We could use visualization as a tool to achieve our goal by visualizing the steps that we need to take. We can write down a list of the habits we could implement, decide when to implement them during our day (visualization while making breakfast, for example), and create an action plan to ensure long-term commitment and results.

#2 Positive self talk

Self talk is that small voice in the background, the one that says, “Hey, it’s going to be okay, we’ve got this.”

Since self talk is our inner dialogue, we can change it. If we regularly talk to ourselves more positively, we convince ourselves that we can achieve our goals, face challenges, and conquer obstacles.

Research has shown that people who talk positively to themselves are able to think more critically and react better to social challenges.

#3 Mindfulness

In my opinion, no other habit is effective without mindfulness. To me, mindfulness means being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. If we are not aware of our thoughts or the way we speak to ourselves, how can we visualize our dreams or practice positive self-talk?

Every morning, I try to tune in to my mind and my body. I ask myself, “How am I today, really?”

Sometimes that’s easy – “Oh, I’m quite hungry, let me go grab something to eat.”

But then life gets in the way and it’s – “Woah, I have so much to do today. I almost forgot! I also need to…”

A good morning routine is so important for me because it helps set me up for the rest of the day. Part of that morning routine is the Rewire Readiness Assessment which considers emotional, cognitive, and physical elements as well as physiological data. All it takes is a few minutes and I am given a helpful readiness score that allows me to tune in to my mental and physical state. This way I am able to be more mindful and build mental strength.

Bonus #4 The Rewire App

Now, I don’t know about you, but trying to add all of these habits into what already feels like an over packed suitcase on a family vacation is just not feasible. That’s where Rewire comes in –

Rewire is an app designed for athletes (managing life and training is tough) and focuses on the training and recovery of both the body and the mind. All those habits I mentioned? Rewire takes them all into consideration and creates personalized Mindset Recovery sessions based on your data to help you make the most of your day and build mental resilience holistically.

Not yet convinced? Give Rewire a try and let the results speak for themselves.

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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Sources

Ralph Roberts Personal Trainer | Amarillo, TX. (2017). What Does It Mean To Be Mentally Strong? [online] Available at: https://ralphrobertspersonaltrainer.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-mentally-strong.

Verywell Mind. (n.d.). The Difference Between Mental Strength and Mental Health. [online] Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-difference-between-mental-strength-and-mental-health-5078284.‌

OMAR ITANI. (n.d.). 12 Habits That Will Help You Build Real Grit and Mental Strength. [online] Available at: https://www.omaritani.com/blog/12-habits-mental-strength

Smith, D.B. (2018). Power of the Mind 1: The Science of Visualization. [online] Science Abbey. Available at: https://www.scienceabbey.com/2018/10/24/power-of-the-mind-the-science-of-visualization-1/.‌

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5 Tools to Shift Your Mindset to Live Your Potential

One of the best ways to explain a mindset shift is that lightbulb moment that kicks in at some point in life where you realize something has to change within you to be the best version of yourself. Now, if it has not happened, do not freak out. When the time is right, it most definitely will, and you will be amazing in the journey that follows.

Here are a few tools to prepare you for that lightbulb. But make sure you are ready with the next moves and your game plan.

They are easy but will need 100% of your effort and work to make them successful. Let’s dive in

Choose to change

Being open-minded is the path to knowing your true self. You have to want to explore things you love and experience new things, and wanting to change is a choice that can only come from you. If you want something different in life, you have to be willing to be open-minded.

 Morning routine

It does not matter what time you wake up. Have a routine. Knowing what you are supposed to do every morning gives you a sense of purpose, and you want to get up. Train your mind to have a set habit for the morning. It can be that for the first 2 hours, you do not touch your phone, or as simple as making your bed and setting an intention for the day.

Start small and keep on adding things as needed, it is easier to add to a routine than starting one. If you go to work, start waking up 10 minutes early to ensure you complete your routine before preparing for work. It could be meditating, working out, or reading a book. Whatever it is, make sure it fulfills you, and you will never regret doing it.  Check out our article on how to master your morning here!

Positive self-talk

You are doing great! Do not be too hard on yourself. Be kind and gracious to yourself. Stand in front of a mirror and speak positively. Speak it until you believe it. There is power in self-talk. Do it long enough you will be blown away with how much you accomplish. Check out out complete guide on positive self-talk here!

Have useful resources

Listening to podcasts or good uplifting music helps you be optimistic and have the zeal for life. Other resources could be learning a new language, meditation, or working out. The Rewire App has an amazing feature where you can test your cognitive, physical, and emotional readiness. Try it out and see the benefits!

Have a mentor or role model

A mentor is there with you throughout all the steps and growth in whatever you want to achieve. A role model is someone you look up to and aspire to be like in the future. One thing you need to learn is that to get a role model, you need to love their process to get to the top and not just because they are up there. Look up to somebody who you are willing to follow the late nights or the early mornings to get where they are at now. 

Practicing these tools will help you and guide you when shifting your mindset. Look at what you want to achieve and take a look at how you want to get there. It is easy, but the journey requires discipline, determination, and commitment to achieve your goals.

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Positive Self-Talk: A Complete Guide

Did you know that the way you speak to yourself can impact your athletic performance?  

Self-Talk refers to the internal dialogues we have to ourselves. In the paper, Self-Talk in Sport and Performance (2017), authors Judy L.Van Raalte and Andrew Vincent write that ‘In the research literature, both instructional and motivational self-talk have been shown to enhance performance.’ and that ‘Negative self-talk increases motivation and performance in some circumstances but is generally detrimental to sport performance’. 

Replacing negative internal dialogues with positive ones can help athletes decrease performance anxiety, improve concentration and focus as well as build confidence and self-esteem. A 2009 study also showed that self-talk can enhance self-confidence and reduce cognitive anxiety (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2009).

When it comes to sports, self-talks can serve two basic functions: for instruction, or motivation. 

  1. Instructional Self-Talk can be utilized for skill or strategy development and general performance improvement. Studies have found that using self-talk mantras during skill execution can improve technique and performance (Hatzigeorgiadis, et al. 2011).  
  2. Motivational Self-Talk as expected, can be used to help you build motivation, cope in difficult circumstances, stay focused and increase effort. 

Lastly, a further way that we can use self-talk to reduce anxiety in sports performance is by using third person. Ethan Kross, a psychologist at the University of Michigan (2014) found that people who refer to themselves through the third-person have a less difficult time dealing with stressful situations. Lebron James, for example, is often reported to have spoken about himself in third person, perhaps doing so aided his performance under pressure. 


Below are some examples of self-talk mantras used by elite athletes to inspire you:

Instructional Self-Talk:

  • “Focus, Focus, Focus” — Rob Krar, ultramarathon runner
  • “Calm, calm, calm. Relax, relax, relax” —Desiree Linden, 2x US Champion Marathon Runner

 Motivational Self-Talk:

  • “I got this” — Laurie Hernandez, 2x Olympic Medalist
  • “I deserve to win” — Marlen Esparza, Pro American Boxer
  • “You Are Strong, You Are Capable, You Are Strong, You Are Capable” — Colin O’Brady, adventure athlete and explorer

Take Home Points:

  • Positive self-talk can improve your athletic performance
  • Use instructional self-talk for skill-development and strategy
  • Use motivational self-talk to build motivation and stay focused
  • Consider using third-person to reduce sport performance anxiety

Need help getting started? Rewire’s Mindset recovery protocols also incorporate self-talk mantras to help you optimize your training. Try it for free today here

References:

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S., & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self-talk–performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and exercise, 10(1), 186-192.

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Galanis, E., & Theodorakis, Y. (2011). Self-talk and sports performance: A meta-analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(4), 348–356. doi: 10.1177/1745691611413136

Kross, E., Bruehlman-Senecal, E., Park, J., Burson, A., Dougherty, A., Shablack, H., Bremner, R., Moser, J., & Ayduk, O. (2014). Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: how you do it matters. Journal of personality and social psychology, 106(2), 304–324. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035173


Van Raalte, J., & Vincent, A. Self-Talk in Sport and Performance. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. Retrieved 27 May. 2022, from https://oxfordre.com/psychology/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.001.0001/acrefore-9780190236557-e-157.

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The Importance of Cognitive Recovery for Athletic Performance

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about cognitive recovery? Unfortunately, the problem is the majority of people don’t think of it at all. It’s already challenging for most athletes to take time from their training schedules to rest and recover physically. It’s even harder for some to be intentional about their cognitive recovery. Cognitive training and recovery are just as important, some may argue more, to an athlete’s performance as their physical training. If not addressed, it could potentially have a negative impact on your performance, whether you’re training for the Olympics or your next pick-up game at the gym. That’s why it’s so important for athletes to be aware of how their physical and cognitive training affects their performance and ways they can successfully address the holes in their training. Luckily, these areas of improvement can be addressed by systems like Rewire. This type of training can address mental fatigue, reaction time, perception of effort, self-talk, etc. 

The effects of mental fatigue have continued to show a negative correlation with physical performance. A systematic review, published in 2019, concluded that “cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance” (D.M.Y. Brown et al., 2019). This continues to support the fact that performing at your highest level isn’t only about what you do physically but how you prepare and take care of yourself mentally. 

Not only does your mental fatigue play a role in how you perform, but the way you think and talk to yourself in those moments affects your performance as well. A study done by Blanchfield concluded that positive self-talk reduced the perception of effort during endurance performance. This study also showed that the subjects that used the self-talk intervention had increased time to exhaustion in comparison to their pre and post-tests (Blanchfield et al.,2014). Again, these types of studies point to the importance of implementing more than just physical training.  

Available research has already shown the benefits of cognitive recovery and training. There are enough interventions and protocols out there to start addressing aspects of it and getting positive results now. That is where programs like Rewire’s mindset recovery system come in. Rewire’s mindset recovery protocols offer guided breathing (including box breathing, pranayama, 4-7-8, and more), use of binaural beats, visualization, self-talk mantras, and subliminal priming. Each of these tools play a vital role in helping athletes, seasoned and novice, get the most out of their training sessions. 

One of Rewire’s guided breathing protocols focuses on box breathing which guides you into inhaling deeply, holding your breath for 4-seconds, then exhaling slowly for the same amount of time and holding again for 4-seconds. This is then repeated several times. This type of guided breathing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also a technique widely used by the Navy SEALs to stay calm and focussed in stressful situations. Another study showed that this type of diaphragmatic breathing helped to reduce anxiety, as well as reduce breathing rate in as little as eight weeks (Yu-Fen Chen et al., 2016). Implementing this into recovery will help to calm and relax the mind assisting with cognitive recovery. This can have a direct impact on performance by decreasing pre-competition or pre-performance anxiety and increasing performance confidence, thus having a better outcome in performance. A 2020 study that looked at collegiate track and field athletes concluded that when anxiety is decreased and self-confidence is increased, they are able to obtain their “best record” (Liang et al., 2020). This included the athletes hitting the same or better than their personal best in their perspective events. Examining newer studies like this helps to look to the use of relaxation techniques like box or other guided breathing in order to positively affect an athlete’s performance.  

Additionally, Rewire’s binaural beats protocol helps to relax the user and aid in recovery and performance. It works by having the athlete listen to audio sounds that are pre-set to a different frequency in each ear. The brain then interprets that sound in a way that has a favorable impact on the athlete’s mood and mindset. The protocol offers multiple wavelengths that address various areas of improvement for the user. These wavelengths are delta (2Hz for deep sleep, theta for meditation or sleep, alpha for relaxation or dreams and lastly beta for activity. A 1998 study showed that “beta-frequency beats were associated with a less negative mood” (Lane, J.D. et al., 1998). Not only does the use of binaural beats help improve mood, a 2020 study focused on the reducing effect it has on mental fatigue. This study resulted in the music (or binaural beats) group being the “least affected by mental fatigue” (Axelsen et al., 2020). These results were seen in just one day of testing, highlighting the on-the-spot effect of binaural beats. When mental fatigue is reduced, we see that attention can be kept for longer, as well as reaction times not being negatively affected. This results in better performances as mental sharpness improves, along with being able to detect and respond to different stimuli while performing.  

Rewire’s Mindset recovery protocols also incorporate visualization and self-talk mantras. Visualization techniques are used to prepare for readiness when it comes to training, competition or aiding in relaxation.  A review study completed in 2018 in the International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education looked at the effects of imagery on sports performance in over fifteen studies and concluded that imagery (or visualization) adds to physical practice but “can be used as a substitute for physical practice when athletes are not able to effectively practice physical skills such as when fatigued, over-trained, injured or when environmental conditions (e.g., poor weather) prevent physical practice” (Jose et al., 2018). This is a prime example of how you can still train to be your best even if you may not be physically training. 

Likewise, along with visualization, the use of self-talk mantras can assist in optimizing your training. Self-talk mantras consist of repeating affirming and motivational phrases or words in order to increase positive self-esteem or self-confidence. A 2009 study showed that self-talk can enhance self-confidence and reduce cognitive anxiety (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2009). These are imperative to performing at the highest level. It’s also important to note that self-talk also has an effect on how one perceives the level of effort they are giving in a certain task. A study by Blanchfield concluded that self-talk significantly reduced the rate of perceived exertion and therefore reduced the level of perceived effort (Blanchfield, 2014). According to this study, the perception of effort is the “ultimate determinant of endurance performance” as opposed to the actual physiological changes that occur in the body when one is fatigued. Understanding this, we can see that the use of self-talk to push the limits in training will carry over to performance as athletes are able to train longer and harder with this intervention. This further attributes to the benefits of positive self-talk. Rewire offers a variety of pre-loaded phrases to use, and the athlete is also able to add their own personal self-talk phrases as well.  

Lastly, to round out Rewire’s mindset recovery tools, it also offers subliminal priming. This is a technique in which an individual is exposed to stimuli below the threshold of perception (Elgendi et al., 2018). These stimuli can be either visual or audio. Rewire ‘s training focuses on the visual subliminal priming in order to impact the perception of effort, as well as motivation and mood. A study from 2014 looked at the effect of subliminal priming in each of these categories and concluded that the time to exhaustion was most impacted and actually improved with intervention (Blanchfield, 2014). There was a significant improvement in time to exhaustion in the group that used self-talk versus the control group, compared to their pre and post-tests. 

It’s clear that there are a variety of ways that cognitive recovery in athletes can be addressed. Acknowledging the need for it is the first step to performing at your absolute best. Rewire’s Mindset Recovery system helps to provide the action steps in order to reach your best.  


Are you already Rewire Member? If so, just tap the button below to use our Mindset Recovery system. If you’re not a Rewire member, join our community of like-minded individuals looking to Unlock their Ultimate Performance Today!

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Chazz Evans Doctor of Physical Therapy, former NCAA Division I Track and Field Champion, specializing in neuroplasticity. While partnering with Rewire Fitness on neuro performance, Chazz has contributed research on the importance of cognitive recovery. When she’s not working, she loves to eat, workout, and roller skate.

REFERENCES: 

Axelsen, J. L., Kirk, U., & Staiano, W. (2020). On-the-spot binaural beats and mindfulness reduces the effect of mental fatigue. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement4(1), 31-39. 

Blanchfield, A. W., Hardy, J., De Morree, H. M., Staiano, W., & Marcora, S. M. (2014). Talking yourself out of exhaustion: the effects of self-talk on endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc46(5), 998-1007. 

Chen, Y. F., Huang, X. Y., Chien, C. H., & Cheng, J. F. (2017). The effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing relaxation training for reducing anxiety. Perspectives in psychiatric care53(4), 329-336. 

Elgendi, Mohamed et al. “Subliminal Priming-State of the Art and Future Perspectives.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 8,6 54. 30 May. 2018, doi:10.3390/bs8060054 

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S., & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self-talk–performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and exercise10(1), 186-192. 

Jose, J., & Joseph, M. M. (2018). Imagery: It’s effects and benefits on sports performance and psychological variables: A review study. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education3(2), 190-193 

Lane, J. D., Kasian, S. J., Owens, J. E., & Marsh, G. R. (1998). Binaural auditory beats affect vigilance performance and mood. Physiology & behavior63(2), 249-252. 

Liang, D., Chen, S., Zhang, W., Xu, K., Li, Y., Li, D., … & Liu, C. (2020). Investigation of a Progressive Relaxation Training Intervention on Pre-Competitive Anxiety and Sports Performance among Collegiate Student Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology11, 4023. 

How to use Self-Talk Mantras to Effectively Increase Performance

Does talking to yourself really help increase your performance? Yes! According to numerous studies, including this one from 2013, using self-talk significantly reduced an athlete’s rating of perceived exertion (RPE) – essentially how hard you feel you are working. This in turn led to a significant increase in time to exhaustion (TTE) meaning that the athletes could continue to work at the same intensity for longer (Blanchfield et al., 2013). In essence this means that by using self-talk techniques, you can increase your performance in endurance activities (or at least make it feel easier!).

So how can you use self-talk effectively to improve your performance? Pick four mantras, either from the list (below) or ones that you have created yourself. They need to be meaningful to you, so take your time to think about which resonate with you the most. 

Pick another two for the late stages of the race or training session suited for times when you can feel the lactic acid moving round in your legs and all you need to do is keep pushing and take your mind off the immense pain. Kline, the former World Duathlon Champion, says: “I might start a race with a mantra in my head ‘Calm and focused.’ And then I’ll reach a point where there’s going to be a lot of climbing and I’ll say ‘Consistent climbing’ over and over in my head. Then I’ll get to a point in the race where it’s go time… I’ll say ‘Bring it home’.”

Early Stage

  • ’Calm and Focused.’ – Laura Kline, Former World Duathlon Champion and Rewire Athlete
  • ’You’re doing great’ – Ryan Hall, Olympian in the marathon
  • ’Stay relaxed’ – Tyler Pennel, Former U.S. National Marathon Champion
  • ’Calm Confidence’ – Annie Bersagel, Former U.S. National Marathon Champion
  • ’Swift and smooth’
  • ’Steady forward momentum’
  • ’Your race. Your pace.’
  • ’Keep this up’
  • ’One step at a time’
  • ’You’ve got this!’
  • ’Feeling good’
  • ’Going strong’

Late Stage

  • ‘Bring it Home’ – Laura Kline, Former World Duathlon Champion and Rewire Athlete
  • ’Tough times don’t last, but tough people do’ – Ellie Greenwood, Western States Record Holder
  • ‘Just keep pushing’ – Ian Sharman, Former Winner of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run
  • ‘Whatever it takes’ – Ryan Vail, Former USA Cross Country Team
  • ’Never give up’ – Chrissie Wellington, Ironman World Champion (2007-2009)
  • ’Fortunate, Fearless and Fast’ – Payson McElveen, Professional Mountain Biker
  • Go faster. Push harder. Today, define yourself.’ – Deena Kastor, Olympic Marathon and Long Distance Runner
  • ’Beast mode on’
  • ’Breathe in Strength. Breathe out weakness.’ – Amy Cragg, Olympic Marathon and Long Distance Runner
  • ’Shut up legs!’ – Jens Voigt, Previous holder of the Hour Cycling Record
  • ’Push through this’
  • ’Consistent Climbing’ – Laura Kline, Former World Duathlon Champion and Rewire Athlete

The mantras that you have picked should be meaningful enough to you that you can remember them without any problem. However, you might wish to have an extra reminder. Write them on your hands or fingers if you need, or even engrave them onto the handlebars of your bike. The good news is with the Rewire system you can program your personal mantras right into the training app and they will appear during the most challenging points in your workout automatically. Throughout exercise use the phrases as and when you need, repeating them over and over, taking your mind off the pain.

By using these mantras, your perception of how hard you are working will be lower and this will allow you to push yourself beyond the previous limit set by psychological factors, thus enhancing your endurance performance.

After a few sessions you will have become accustomed to using self-talk and will likely have naturally selected the mantra which fits the best for each part of the race, those being the ones that you repeat the most since they mean the most to you.

Keep pushing!

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Talking Yourself Out of Exhaustion: The Effects of Self-talk on Endurance Performance
by Blanchfield AW, Hardy J, De Morree HM, Staiano W, Marcora SM
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2013