You don't need weights to build mental strength — just 5 minutes and this short practice

Woman meditating at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While you can build stronger muscles with weights, you don't need any equipment to strengthen your mind. If you want to boost your resilience and mental toughness, all you need is five minutes and this guided breathing exercise. 

We all experience stress throughout the day. This can come from deadlines at work, family, and friends, or even getting through an intense or tough workout. But mental strength helps you cope with these intense feelings so that you can get through them without being overwhelmed.

This guided breathing meditation from the team at Headspace, one of the best relaxation apps, is designed to help you practice mindfulness — a technique you can use to re-focus on the present moment, allowing thoughts to pass by without getting caught up in them.

There are a lot of benefits to this approach in everyday life — it can make intense feelings easier to manage — but it can apply to exercise and workouts too. When you’re getting to the end of a timer or rep count, it can be hard to keep going, but that’s where mental strength can help too.

This session is led by Eve Lewis Prieto, a certified meditation teacher and Director of Teaching at Headspace, and it’s ideal for beginners and experienced practitioners. You can do it whenever you have a moment in the day, or as a way to decompress when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Watch Headspace’s five-minute guided breathing exercise

As it's designed to help you focus on your breath, you may find it useful to pop in a set of noise-canceling earbuds to block out background noises. Over time, it’ll get easier to naturally ignore, allowing you to bring your attention to your breath and reduce stress wherever you are.

It seems simple, but it can have a significant impact on how you feel in body and mind. When you’re stressed, you’ve probably noticed your breathing becomes sharper and shallower than when you’re relaxed. Whereas longer, deeper breaths can reduce your heart rate and make you feel calmer.

Like any skill, it takes practice to see the effects, so it’s important to make sessions like this part of your routine. That said, you don’t need a dedicated meditation session to continue developing mindfulness throughout the day and build mental strength.

Mindfulness is something that can develop at any time, whether that’s through noticing how your fingers feel on your keyboard, the breeze against your skin, or bringing your attention to the tastes and sensations of your meals, or you can set reminders to focus on your breath instead.

If you prefer to use non-digital reminders, these mindfulness cards are a great way to practice without breaking the bank. There are different mindfulness prompts on each card, so you can pull one randomly from the desk, or flip over a new one each morning for inspiration.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

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.