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10 Ways to Build Mental Strength So You Can Navigate Any Challenge Life Throws at You

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You don’t have to be “tough” to face the real challenges of life. It requires awareness, finesse, and the knowledge of your own mind. We have experts answering the questions we hear most about building mental strength. Use their strategies to improve your grit game.



Nobody has to


© Jobe Lawrenson
Nobody has to be “up” to have mental strength. A strong mind is all about finesse, and here’s how to achieve it in training, at work, and anywhere in life.

Can you get stronger physically without leaving your mental comfort zone?

“The body can only adapt when it faces something new, and new challenges won’t always be comfortable,” says Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, fitness director of Men’s Health. So basically no. Your mind will also adjust to the discomfort and you will increase both your mental and physical strength.

The secret: start small. “Add one to the goal you are pursuing each week,” says Samuel, “whether that means repeating another push-up for each set, adding another minute to your morning run, or holding a plank for another second . “

I hate to fail. Is there any way to end your obsession with what went wrong?

Start thinking like Michael Jordan. He considers himself a failure: by the time he counted, he missed more than 9,000 shots. “Twenty-six times I was entrusted with taking the game-winning shot and missed,” he said. “I’ve failed over and over again in my life.”

How did he get on? He went forward. “Making a mistake is just a source of feedback letting you know you’ve gone off-course,” said Lisa Stephen, Ph.D., career, personal, and athletic performance coach and owner of Ignite Peak Performance in Vermont. “Use this data to focus on the next steps. Then forget the mistake. You can imagine flushing it down the toilet or releasing it in a balloon. It’s about leaving the mistake behind and building on what you’ve learned. You cannot do your best if you focus on your worst. ”

Can I let go of negativity without writing a gratitude list?

Yes, by doing something for someone else. “One active approach to eliminating jealousy and negativity is to practice benevolent actions,” says psychiatrist Tracey Marks, MD, of Marks Psychiatry in Georgia. Start by giving others compliments and positive feedback. If you’re feeling extra generous, pay for it at a coffee shop or drive-through. There is some evidence that generosity is linked to activity in areas of the brain that are responsible for happiness.

However, if giving is frustrating you (what about my needs?), Try gratitude without the list, says Dr. Marks. Spend a moment each morning thinking about what you are grateful for.



Brain on papers and iPad


© Jobe Lawrenson
Brain on papers and iPad

My workload is ridiculous. How do I avoid burnout without dropping the pecking order in the office?

Learning to use the word “no” is natural for some of us, but it is slow for others. Many people do not use it because they fear they will miss out on opportunities or be seen as unwilling by employers or customers. In reality, the opposite may be the case.

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“My experience is that if I say no, my worth increases,” says Elizabeth Day, creator of How to Fail podcast and author of Failosophy. “If you respect yourself, others will also respect you more.” “I can’t get on with any other project” is an easier conversation than “I can’t get along with this job”.

I am a hopeless procrastinator. How do I work out more get-up-and-go?

Let go of the concept of creative inspiration or you need to be “in the zone” to do what needs to be done. There will never be a right time to get the job done, and if you wait for the mood to hit you will be a long wait.

James Clear, author of the bestselling Atomic Habits, advocates sticking to a schedule rather than a deadline. If life gets in your way, reduce the size of the task – spend ten minutes on it instead of the original 30 – but always stick to the schedule. Just don’t give yourself the option to skip it.

I am grappling with the loss of a loved one, but I have to be strong for my family. What can I do?

Being “strong” doesn’t mean holding back emotions and tears. “The way to show strength is not to be afraid to reveal your pain,” says Dr. Marks. “When everyone is hurt, the people who depend on you will see you as a role model for dealing with themselves.” If you hold it back, you can telegraph that grief is a shame. To be strong, show how you feel.



Close up of blue background: brain made from rolled up newspapers


© Jobe Lawrenson
Brain made from rolled up newspapers

Reading the news often bothers and annoys me. How do I reset?

That is understandable; The news causes stress because it can create feelings of hopelessness and injustice. To handle difficult news, try to create boundaries on how you can get it, and find people to have meaningful conversations with about it, psychiatrist Gregory Scott Brown, MD recommends something to cool it down, like meditation or at least watching a fun, non-news and dramatic show.

Another solution: Swap passive news consumption for active discussion. Using the Black Lives Matter movement as an example, Eugene Ellis, founder and director of the Black, African, and Asian Therapy Network, points out the psychological benefits of talking to others. This can also help you know what action to take. “It’s an antidote to the feeling of powerlessness that many of us experience. When you start getting involved, you discover that beneath hopelessness lies the connection. And when you can find a connection, it’s easier to know what to do. “



Close-up of a basketball hoop: shoes with laces that outline a brain


© Jobe Lawrenson
Shoes with laces that outline a brain

I’m doing an ultra marathon. Is it true that the mind is about the muscle?

“Ultras are likely 90% mental and 10% physical,” says Michael Wardian, a professional endurance runner who was one of only three people to have completed the Leadville 100-mile / Pikes Peak combined marathon (and also the Backyard Ultra 2020 won). intense running mentally and physically).

To master an ultra or endurance performance, “you have to have a big why. Don’t just run for social media, run for your kids or to prove something to yourself, ”he says. Also helpful: Rely on “chunking” – set yourself small goals such as reaching the next mailbox or the next refreshment point. You don’t always have to run to build your mental strength. “Get used to doing things that are uncomfortable for you,” he says. Set your alarm clock for 4:00 a.m. – or just do the damn dishes.

I don’t have the patience to meditate. Can I reduce my stress differently?

“Yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress, and it’s good for people who can’t sit long enough to meditate,” says Dr. Marks. It also brings you stress relief benefits from two directions: As with meditation, focus on breathing, which can help relax the body. “And by stretching tense muscles, you release tension,” she explains. You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga and there are tons of virtual ways to practice it these days. Two of our favorites are Alo Moves and Apple Fitness +. Both offer a wide range of courses, from one-hour stress busters to ten-minute yoga snacks. (A side note: meditation is really worth persevering, so stay tuned. Try an app like Calm, Headspace, or Ten Percent Happier to make it less boring.)

This story originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Men’s Health.

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Men’s Health

Lee Crooks ready to ‘Offload’ as Hull FC launch men’s mental health programme

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Hull FC becomes the newest rugby league club to run Rugby League Cares’ offload program.

Offload is an initiative by former professional rugby league players with the aim of helping men improve and maintain their mental health and fitness.

The project has already been successful in a number of different clubs in Yorkshire and the Pennines and, through their foundation, the Black and Whites will be running a pilot project in the city.

The FC will play six hour-long “games” from the Community Hub at MKM Stadium with the help of former UK international Lee Crooks, who wants to use his own life experiences to help others in his hometown.

The program starts on Thursday October 7th and is open to all men over the age of 16. Sessions are offered to make the “squad members” comfortable when they want to share troubling issues or mental health issues.

Crooks will lead the program and over the course of six weeks he will use the rugby league as a platform to discuss topics like stress and coping, build positive mindset, analyze negative thinking and build resilience.

A part of Offload since its inception, the FC Hall of Famer is running a number of programs across the country and encouraging men who may be struggling to participate and get involved.

“It’s for like-minded men to come in and talk and discuss,” said Crooks. “We deliver slides and talk about various things.

Hull FC legend Lee Crooks.

“It’s just about getting people to come in and chat and talk about the problems they encountered in life or during lockdown, and it’s all provided by former rugby league players who have suffered from some mental health problems themselves.

“When I signed up for Hull, I got married when I was 17, and while I didn’t have a lot of rugby issues, I struggled with the family, being a husband and having two young children when I was 20.

“Because of the family side of things and the insecurity of being a father or husband, I struggled a little.

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“It is only when I look back now that I realize that that was the problem.

“I grew up in an area where talking about emotions was considered a sign of weakness, and I think a lot of people still do.

“Men don’t talk about their problems as much as they should, and the biggest statistic we publish is that 78 percent of all suicides are male, the ones if you can’t get it off your chest.

“Many workshops are about what I have overcome and what people can do for coping mechanisms from a mental health perspective.

“Just being able to do the workshops has really cleared up the backlog of things that I’ve had in the back of my mind for some time.

“You don’t have to be a rugby fan, you can play rugby yourself, but if you want to come down and talk and get rid of something, we’ll try to discuss things.”

For more information on Offload and to register, please contact Crooks at lee.crooks@hullfc.com.

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Men’s Health

Africa: Modern Masculinity in Africa – Pressures, Expectations and Breaking the Mold

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From juggling the traditional and the modern to just a few ways to express your inner fears. The DW show The 77 Percent examines what masculinity means for African men today.

What does it mean to be an African in the 21st century? What pressure are men under? And how do we define masculinity in the modern world anyway?

These were just some of the questions the panel was asked in the latest edition of The 77 Percent’s Street Debate in Nairobi, Kenya.

Conversations about masculinity and masculinity are not unique to the African continent. But many African societies now find themselves in an often stark conflict between traditional and modern values.

“The majority of us come from a patriarchal society,” said Charles Okumu, the moderator of the Man Enough program in Kenya, which seeks to redefine traditional roles and masculinity.

“There was a way we should act, or see how our fathers treated our mothers.”

Tradition meets modernity

In many African societies – especially in rural communities – traditions still play an important role in everyday life. Men and boys are often brought up to see the “man” as the dominant force and provider in the household amid changing social norms.

In fast-growing cities like Nairobi, it is even more difficult to keep up with modern values ​​in the face of persistent ideas of what makes a man a man.

“Some of our patriarchal paths that we inherited from our background are not really helpful in modern life,” said Okumu. “There are still some who want to behave like our fathers. But on the other hand, modernity has taught us to deal better with ourselves.”

The Kenyan influencer, radio host and comedian Eric Omondi has seen a great deal of development in Kenyan society compared to a few decades ago.

“While the roles were clearly defined back then – the man who brings the bacon home and the woman who cooks it – they no longer exist,” Omondi told DW.

Juggle expectations

As modern and traditional values ​​collide, African men, especially the younger generation, find it difficult to live up to expectations on both sides.

“There is a fight that comes from within,” said Okumu. “To want to do things that are morally right in the modern way … But there is this inner struggle of still not wanting to let go, as we saw our fathers show us the way.”

Many men still feel the pressure of their families to live up to these male “ideals”.

“The expectations are great and [often] unrealistic, “said Omondi.” From his parents’ demands that he keep paying it with his younger siblings and aging parents – aka Black Tax – to his wife or girlfriend’s need for a new hairstyle, facial and a house on a hill [while] to be emotionally present and sensitive to all of your feelings. The list goes on and on. “

Okumu believes that boys have also lagged behind in education, albeit inadvertently.

“For the past decade or so, there has been an emphasis on girl education and empowerment – which I fully support,” said Okumu.

“However, it was done at the boy’s expense, and now these boys and girls have grown up. These girls are now better informed, make more informed decisions, and make more money leading to a much more informed one [woman]? “

Focus on mental health

This discussion of masculinity also highlights the importance of the mental health of African men – an issue that remains difficult to openly discuss.

“Most African societies have an implicit need for men to ‘man-up’ – so that all the emotions a man feels should not be expressed openly or even privately,” said comedian and influencer Eric Omondi.

“Because of this, many have [men’s] Challenges are swept under the carpet and rarely discussed “

Infertility, domestic violence, and financial abuse in Omondi’s cities are just some of the many problems African men face and are reluctant to talk about, even among family and closest friends.

If left unaddressed, these issues can lead to higher rates of gender-based violence, depression, and suicide in men, Omondi said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide rates in Africa are above the global average. Stress in men was compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic, with job losses and isolation taking their toll.

But more African men are talking about the pressures they are under.

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Resources like Okumu’s Man Enough program encourage participants to move beyond traditional gender roles.

Okumu also emphasized the importance of providing boys with good role models from a young age.

“Boys become the men they see around them,” he told DW during the street debate.

“We have to make a conscious choice to talk to our children, not because we feel that way [this or that] defines masculinity, but helps them see how easy it is to be a responsible person. “

Comedian Omondi believes that African men today can benefit from adopting values ​​from other cultures while remaining true to their roots.

“Now that the world has become a village, it’s not far-fetched to grab a little of what works from western or eastern cultures and blend it with our very rich African culture as modern men,” said Omondi.

If you are struggling with your mental health or have thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to seek help. Find resources for mental health services in your part of the world here: https://www.befrienders.org/

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Men’s Health

Best Foods to Eat After a Run, According to a Dietician

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Every run is a good run. Whether it’s marathon training, light jogging or sprinting, the health benefits of a higher gear are enormous. So what’s the best way to optimize it? Most people shut down their diet before running – especially what they will eat before a run or competition. This is important, of course, but what you eat after a run is just as important for recovery. The average routine after a run is usually like this: stumble through the door, sweat a bit, sit down, shower. What is missing here is the refueling phase. You have to regain what you drained.

Depending on your goals – i.e., training for a marathon or just more regular weekly mileage – your post-run diet should aim to refuel, rebuild, and rehydrate to aid the recovery process and maximize the training effect. The focus of your post-run diet should be on replenishing glycogen (stored energy), repairing the damage done to your muscles, and replacing lost nutrients and minerals such as electrolytes.

Here are three guidelines to follow when figuring out what to eat after a run:

  • Focus on complex carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores in your liver and muscles: The recommended amount is 0.5-0.7 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight within 30 minutes of training – for glycogen resynthesis.
  • Replace electrolytes, minerals, and water that you’ve lost through sweat: Hydration is key as your body and muscles are mostly made up of water. A weight loss of just 2 percent through sweat can lead to reduced performance and cognitive decline. Although the sweat rate and the concentration of sodium in sweat are very individual, you should add some sodium and chloride as these are the two most important electrolytes that are lost in sweat. Also take into account plenty of water. Approximately 16 fluid ounces of H2O per pound will be lost during your run.
  • Build and Repair Your Muscles Damaged During Your Run: Adding some protein to your diet after your run has been shown to help the muscles absorb carbohydrates. Aim for 0.14-0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Look for a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 3: 1 or 4: 1 within 30 minutes. Do not wait more than two hours to get back to eating.

The best foods to eat after a kickstart recovery run

1. Chocolate milk

Chocolate milk takes the top spot here because it happens to be the perfect post-run drink. It’s packed with high quality protein and those fast-digesting carbohydrates for muscle regeneration and glycogen synthesis. Low-fat chocolate milk already has a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 4: 1 and is probably the best-researched post-workout recovery option on this list for superior workout recovery benefits. Lactose intolerant? Become lactose-free and still benefit from all the advantages.

2. Greek yogurt with berries and honey

Greek yogurt is superior to traditional yogurt in that it contains much more protein – one cup provides 15 grams of protein compared to about 5 grams for the same amount of regular yogurt. Top this with mixed berries and honey for some quickly digestible carbohydrates and antioxidants for muscle recovery.

3. Eggs and toast

Each egg contains around 6-7 grams of high quality protein. Cook two or three of these in a few minutes, place them on a couple of slices of whole grain bread for high quality carbohydrates – and do the math. You are done.

4. Avocado toast with poached eggs

Start with a high-protein whole grain bread option like Dave’s Killer Bread, then mash some avocados with salt and pepper for healthy fats and some sodium and chloride for electrolytes. Top with a few poached eggs (fried or scrambled eggs is fine) for your protein.

5. Salmon, sweet potatoes, and asparagus

In addition to being a great source of protein, salmon offers post-exercise recovery benefits as it is high in healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Combine your fish with sweet potatoes or brown rice to add some carbohydrates. Add asparagus or broccoli to round out a full post-run meal.

6. Tuna and whole grain crackers

Tuna is handy to eat anywhere after your run. I especially love these extra portable tuna bags. Tear it open and your simple 24-25 gram protein snack is ready. Combine it with some whole grain crackers for high quality carbohydrates.

7. Cottage cheese with pineapple

Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, providing both whey protein (more digestible) and casein protein (slower). One cup of cottage cheese provides 28 grams of protein – plus its sodium content helps replenish lost electrolytes. Add in a favorite fruit (I’ll use pineapple) for an extra easy carb boost.

8. English muffin or bagel with nut butter and banana

Choose a whole grain English muffin or gel for an easily digestible, high quality source of carbohydrates with some healthy fiber. Top it off with nut butter (see Nooty protein-rich nut spreads), a sliced ​​banana, and a dash of honey.

9. Protein oatmeal with blueberries and peanut butter

Oatmeal is a high quality source of carbohydrates and is rich in a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which is beneficial for digestion and intestinal health. Prepare your oats with milk and add ½ to 1 scoop of your favorite whey protein powder. Top with blueberries and blackberries, which provide powerful antioxidant compounds called flavonoids that aid regeneration. Top it off with peanut butter for healthy fat.

10. DIY protein shake

Protein shakes have long been the staple food for regeneration after training – especially for building muscle. It’s also the perfect elixir for post-run recovery. Get creative with your shakes. There are tons of protein options (whey, plant-based, nut butters, Greek yogurt, etc.) and the fruit choices (bananas, berries, pineapples, mangoes, etc.) are also diverse. Adding extra nutrients like spinach, kale, or avocados will earn you extra points. Here’s my perfect post-run smoothie recipe:

Berry Have a good rest

Ingredients:

Directions:

Put all ingredients except protein powder in the blender and mix on a low level. Then protein powder and mix again until a smooth consistency is achieved.

nourishment

  • 292 calories
  • 34g of carbohydrates
  • 25g protein
  • 7g fat

Jordan Mazur, MS, RD, is the nutrition director for the San Francisco 49ers

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