I believe that a big part of growing, learning and developing, especially in your twenties, is to acknowledge your faults or things you could do better at, and strive to do so. For me, I'll admit I haven't always been the strongest when it comes to tough times, emotional situations, etc. Even when I outwardly come off as having it together, it doesn't mean I'm not crying to my family members or Kevin in private. With this, a more comical term, "mental toughness" was born. A large number of my friends have probably heard Kevin yell to me, "ESSELL, MENTAL TOUGHNESS!" whether that be directed toward me "trying harder" to make the bus, complaining about it being cold outside or sucking it up and putting my clothes away now, not two days later. In all seriousness, I need Kevin's nagging every now and then. But it wasn't until the last few months where I really learned how to (allow me to toot my own horn) excel at being mentally tough.
So for anyone out there that's gearing up for a surgical procedure, going through a tough time or even just struggling with things that right now seem unbearable, I give you the Molly Essell & Kevin McKnight Mental Toughness Bootcamp: Three ways you can get yourself into a tough but positive state & get back to thriving ASAP.
1. Eat healthy, be healthy, FEEL healthy
Health is not just defined by the number on the scale or cutting out late night pizza every other weekend. I'm no dietician, but I'm self-aware enough to realize how much better I feel when I've been eating healthy and getting in some exercise. This "feel good" sensation carries over to my overall mental well-being as well. I'm a much more positive person when I'm feeling healthy. And in turn, able to tackle hardships that come my way with more of an optimistic outlook. Instead of grabbing the ice cream when you're having a bad day, grab some blueberries and go for a walk. Might sound difficult to do but I guarantee turning on the Summer Hits of the 90s Pandora station and getting some fresh air for 30 minutes will do you some good.
2. Think then talk (or write)
Where I used to be more likely to keep problems, angry thoughts, worries in, I now try (and I say try, because I'm not close to perfect yet) to take some time to think about what's bothering me and how I can talk about it. If I'm bothered about a certain person, it's finding a way to articulately form my opinions and discuss with them, instead of internalizing. If I'm bothered by something I did myself, it's talking to a friend about how I can do better, get better or sometimes just move on. If it's something I don't think I can talk about with anyone else, I write it down. Lists can be lifesavers! Get a notebook for your nightstand. Having this idea of addressing the issue, talking (or writing) it out helps me get all the crazy thoughts and ideas out of my head (that let's all admit, come at 2 a.m. and take away all sleep you're desperately trying to get) and instead, feel better after talking it through. So friends, do me a favor this week, and on Sunday, stop the Sunday Scaries by taking out a notebook, writing down your list of things to accomplish on Monday and go to bed early!
3. Set and achieve goals, large or small
I will be the first to say, sometimes you have to accept and celebrate small victories. For me, every Monday morning, I wake up to the conversation of, "So are you making the bus?" (For those that aren't aware, I ride the bus from Mt. Lookout to downtown, what is supposed to be, every day. Most days it's me running out of the apartment, barely making it as it flies down Delta.) So every Monday, I get into the goal setting with Kevin, and myself, on how many days I am going to make the bus. For instance, this week my goal is to take it Tuesday-Friday. I'm on my way to a victory and you better believe I'm going to succeed. The point being, it's little achievements like making the bus that give you a sense of success, and confidence. No one is more mentally tough than a confident, I-can-do-it person. Set some goals, remember the confidence you feel when you achieve them and tackle with toughness the next challenge that comes your way.
You can do it!