Working out with weights like kettlebells and dumbbells is a great way to build muscle, boost your fitness, and strengthen your core. But you don’t need any of those to develop mental strength. All you really need is five minutes, a quiet space, and this short guided breathing exercise.
Mental strength, sometimes called resilience, is a skill we can develop over time, and it helps us deal with difficult situations as they come up. It’s closely linked to mindfulness, a way of focusing on the present moment often developed through a regular meditation practice.
While you could download one of the best relaxation apps if you’re after a dedicated program, Chris Hemsworth’s workout app Centr also comes with a range of great guided meditations and breathing exercises to help you develop mental strength that’ll serve you just as well through a challenging day at work or a tough workout session.
There’s a perception that meditation means sitting cross-legged on the floor saying ‘om’, but you don’t need to do that here. Instead, you just need a space where you can safely close your eyes for a few moments and focus on your breathing. Over time, you might find you can do that in busy environments, but initially you may want to pop in a set of noise canceling earbuds to drown out background noise.
This particular stress-busting five-minute exercise is led by Sergio Perera and you don’t need to have meditated, practiced yoga, or even done breathwork before. Perera guides you through several deep breaths to help lower your heart rate before you begin, so all you have to do is take a few minutes and follow his instructions.
Watch Centr’s five-minute meditation to build mental strength
It’s a perfect short session for developing mental strength over time or for helping in the moment when you’re especially stressed, overwhelmed, or having a tough time. Part of the reason mindfulness meditations focus on your breath is because it’s always available to you, so you can practice wherever you are without any special equipment.
It’s also easy to overlook, but changing your breath also has an impact on your body and how you feel. When you’re stressed or anxious, you probably take short, quick breaths and this goes alongside tension across your body. Longer, deeper breaths can reduce this tension, lower your heart rate, and make you feel calmer, even if nothing else has changed.
However, it’s not your only option, as you can also use the body scan meditation technique to develop mindfulness and focus on how your body feels in the moment. But the reason we rate Centr as one of the best workout apps is because it combines muscle-building workouts with on-demand yoga classes, guided meditations, and recipes, so you can look after your body and mind with a single app.
And if you’re on the go or short on space and the minimal equipment angle works for you, you don’t need a full weights rack to get a good workout either. Investing in a set of the best resistance bands can be a good place to start as they’re lightweight, easy to store, and come in a range of strengths so you can challenge your muscles too.
Or, if you want to ditch equipment all together, then these bodyweight strength building moves to boost your mood are a great complement to your mental strength workouts.
You don’t need a lot of space or dedicated gear, and, like the guided breathing exercises, you can do them when you have a spare moment, whether you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, on your way to work, or even brushing your teeth to pass the time.
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James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing.
His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym.
Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones.
He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.