As I write this, it’s been ten months since the pandemic took over our lives and around ten months since Broadway and theater shut down. It’s been challenging for everyone. As a mom, I understand other parents’ pain. Our routines have shifted. Many are working at home while also having to make sure our kids’ education suffers as little as possible. I know there are days that don’t go as well as others, and I struggle with keeping it together. But I realize the extra time spent with my daughters is a blessing. The pandemic gave me a front-row seat to observe my senior daughter mature from a teenager into a young adult.
As a performer, I also understand how difficult this has been. The pandemic has hit performing artists hard (actors, dancers, singers, and others who work in the industry). Performing artists now struggle with finding their purpose in their daily lives. Some embraced the situation and chose the time to focus on creating positive changes and devising other opportunities for themselves. Others developed habits that don’t serve them well because they feel stuck and bored. After talking to many fellow actors, I realize what the difference is between those who continue to thrive and those who are struggling. It’s all about a strong mindset.
Over the next few months, it’s imperative to either continue to adopt a strong mindset or learn to develop one. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We will perform again and our routines will return to normal. Before that time comes, we can learn to strengthen our mindset and head in the right direction. If you are not where you want to be in your own life or you’ve formed habits that don’t make you proud, it’s time to make some changes. To make positive changes, you might need to shift your mindset.
Change is difficult and adopting a growth mindset could feel awkward at first. A change in mindset can be especially difficult for people who tend to operate from a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is what keeps us stuck and doesn’t allow us to change.
But, shifting to a growth mindset yields powerful results. Over the past few years, I have used the following exercises to help build a stronger mindset and become mentally tough. While I still sometimes worry and have self-doubts, I’ve gained more confidence, increased mental strength, and resiliency by practicing these ideas.
What is a strong mindset?
A person with a strong mindset exudes the following characteristics: mental toughness, confidence, focus, determination, agency, discipline, and resiliency. It’s what allows you to keep going even when things are stacked against you.
A strong mindset helps build your perspective, enhances your wellbeing, promotes better mental health, boosts your productivity, and helps those around you. It’s surprising how much a change in mindset can affect your life’s outcome! Your mindset is under your control, so you can use it to your advantage. You can shift your thinking so you can live a healthier and happier life.
How do you develop a strong mindset?
There are several strategies you can use to shift your mindset? Strong minded people use the following strategies.
Notice your thoughts
Did you know that we have a built-in negativity bias? Research shows that our minds naturally focus on the negative side. No one can think positively at all times. We have to make an effort to engage in positive thinking.
Because of our negativity bias, we must work really hard to learn to develop a positive mindset. We will never reach our full potential if we are constantly thinking negative thoughts about our present circumstances. We will stay stuck in these negative emotions and never make changes for the better.
If you want to change your life, you must change your thinking. But before you can change your thinking, you need to be aware of your thoughts. Start taking the time to notice when you are thinking a negative thought and turn it into a positive one.
Develop emotional health
Instead of running away from your emotions, identify them. Be aware of your emotions (both good and bad) throughout the day. If you are feeling overwhelmed, identify that feeling. Try to understand why you are experiencing that. Our emotional health can cause stress in our bodies, which affects our health. Figure out the cause of your stress and voice your thoughts about it. Sometimes voicing your feelings or journaling about them frees your mind and allows you to move forward.
Build up your mental stamina
To have a strong mindset to accomplish your goals, you need to develop mental stamina. Mental stamina is the ability to stay focused on a goal when there is difficulty or stress. It is what allows you to overcome obstacles. You can strengthen your stamina through meditation, yoga, and other mindful practices. These activities teach you mental skills which improve your focus. These skills also improve your ability to regain focus when you get distracted. You can also build up your stamina by learning new things. When you learn something new, you must focus on the new skill, even if you are getting frustrated. I work on my stamina when I teach myself how to play the piano. If I want to get better, I have to focus and work through the frustration and mistakes.
Feed your mind with positivity
It’s impossible to reach your goals and live a happy life if you engage in negative thoughts. Because of our built-in negativity bias, so we must work hard to shift our thinking to the positive. Surround yourself with positivity. Fill your life with positive people who will support you. Read inspirational books. And practice gratitude. Positive influences and actions help build a new mindset.
Begin each day with something positive. Decide before you even get out of bed that you will start the day in the right direction. Plan for a positive experience the first thing in the morning. Read about how to develop a healthy and positive morning routine in this post. A positive morning routine will help your body and mind settle in and stay focused on what you need to accomplish.
Take social media breaks. It’s hard to maintain a positive viewpoint when you constantly comparing yourself to other people. I find that when I limit social media, I am a much happier person.
Rewrite your story
We experience thousands of thoughts each day. These thoughts may contain self-sabotaging stories we tell ourselves. Some of these thoughts might be “I just can’t lose the weight, so why even try?” “Theater is my life. I can’t find joy in anything else.” “I’ve tried everything to fix this problem and nothing will work.”
These stories are not true. They are self-limiting beliefs. You can read more about self-limiting beliefs here. If you tell yourself these limiting stories, you will fulfill them. Get rid of the negative self talk so that you don’t limit what you can achieve in your lifetime. A beneficial exercise is to write down the story you want for yourself, post it somewhere, and read it daily. If you practice your new story, you will develop self confidence and start to achieve your goals.
Take responsibility for yourself, focus on personal growth, and develop personal agency
Nobody else is responsible for making you happy and healthy. You are in charge of your well-being. Start considering how each decision you make impacts your wellness. I find it helpful to listen to personal development books in the car to remind me about the changes I want to make in my life.
When faced with choices throughout the day, ask yourself, “Does this support my well-being and my success towards my goals?”. When you begin asking this question, you’ll support the process of changing your mindset. At the end of the day, ask yourself if your actions helped support your goal progress. Don’t beat yourself up for any setbacks. Learn from your mistakes and resolve to try to approach the next day differently. Develop your sense of agency and realize you control your life.
Distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t
The past year showed us that individually, we have little control over world circumstances or political situations. Understanding that we can’t control everything can relieve our stress. We can only make changes to what we have control over, and that’s where we should focus our attention. Focusing our attention on what we actually can change has the potential to impact the bigger picture.
Learn how to effectively manage stress
Read this article to learn more about stress and how to manage it through meditation.
Set significant, exciting goals and create your own opportunities
If you are a performer, you likely find yourself with more free time. Use effective time management strategies so that you don’t waste the free time. If you wake up every morning with little to look forward to, your mind may cling to negative feelings that can last throughout the day. Use this extra time to “play.” Find new things you enjoy doing. Learn to cook. Write your own material to perform. Hone your video or camera skills. Practice self-care so you are ready to perform when the time finally comes. Focus your life by setting goals that motivate and excite you. Take a simple step each day that brings you closer to achieving your goals and improving your wellbeing.
Visualize your goals
Take a few minutes to close your eyes and picture what you want your life to look like in a few months. Do you want your physical health to improve? Do you want to experience healthier relationships? Do you want to run a 5k? Is your goal to fit back into your favorite clothes? What would it feel like to reach your goals? Picture this achievement as vividly as possible. Visualization is a powerful tool to achieve our goals. Ashanti Johnson has an effective visualization exercise on her Ted talk. The whole talk is worthwhile, but if you only want to do the exercise, start at 10:38.
These suggestions will help make you mentally strong, but they will only help if you put them into practice. Pick one or more of the ideas and decide you are worth producing these changes in your life. Even small changes can have a compound effect and produce a massive payoff. With a stronger mindset, you can achieve your goals. This new mindset will give you the tools to achieve both personal and professional success.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, therapist, Registered Dietitian, or financial advisor. The information presented is purely for informational purposes. Check with a doctor or other professional before making any nutritional, fitness, lifestyle, or financial changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any suggestions or ideas from this site.