Mental Toughness: Why It's Essential To Your Recovery And How You Can Have More Of It


If you've ever had a serious medical procedure performed on you, then you know that your recovery doesn't end when you leave the hospital. Often, significant physical issues remain that require short-term rehabilitation programs and other healing support. They also require significant alterations to your lifestyle and mindset.

The combination of these factors often makes it difficult for patients to maintain mental toughness during the healing process--resulting in disrupted thinking, decreased mood, and an inability to relate to friends and family. To understand how to avoid this outcome, it's important to understand what mental toughness actually is.

What Is Mental Toughness?

The concept of mental toughness is often misunderstood. Many people confuse a sunny disposition and a positive outlook with grit and determination. This isn't the case. After all, there are quite a few people--you might know a few--who aren't particularly sunny or happy regardless of the circumstances. That doesn't denote an overall lack of mental toughness.

Instead, mental toughness is more accurately associated with grit and determination. It is, essentially, how likely a person is able to handle difficult situations without becoming overwhelmed and shutting down. More than the traits of good humor and cheerfulness, mental toughness is observed through a person's ability to:

  • Remain consistent and productive over long periods of time
  • Set goals and work regularly to achieve them
  • Address setbacks honestly and effectively
  • Maintain calmness and their typical demeanor in difficult situations

Why Does Mental Toughness Help During Rehabilitation?

Contrary to popular belief, there is little research to show that happiness is directly linked to medical recovery. However, your relationships and overall quality of life will tend to be much greater if you display a positive attitude during your healing process. Depression can seriously damage relationships--leading to a difficult emotional healing process after your body has recovered.

That said, there are definite medical benefits to mental toughness during your recovery and short-term rehabilitation process. Mentally tough individuals are more likely to maintain their lifestyle while dealing with persistent pain. They're also more likely to attend therapy sessions regularly, and to complete any at-home exercises and procedures with fidelity. All of these factors lead to a more efficient and complete recovery process.

How Can You Develop Mental Toughness?

While some people tend to display more mental toughness than others, the good news is that anyone can improve their resiliency level. In fact, there are things you can do even while in the middle of a difficult situation that will help you manage the situation while improving your mental toughness. These exercises only take a few minutes each day, and can be performed alone or with the support of loved ones.

  • Setting and monitoring goals--One of the hallmarks of mentally tough people is their ability to see growth during difficult times. Consider setting attainable, measurable goals for your recovery and check your progress daily. The growth you see will give you strength when things become difficult.
  • Reflect on your emotional state--Courage isn't the absence of fear. Rather, it's the ability to continue moving forward when you're afraid. Daily reflection on how you're feeling will help you manage and control your emotions, making it easier to choose progress in spite of those feelings.
  • Prioritize your mental resources--People only have a limited amount of energy to spend thinking about things. Most of these things do not lead to action, and are therefore nothing more than mental energy sinks. Identify which ideas are mental energy sinks, and consciously stop yourself from obsessing over them. Focus instead on the things you have control over.

Recovering from a medical procedure and dealing with short-term rehabilitation is a difficult test. By focusing on maintaining and improving your mental toughness, you'll place yourself in the best possible position to heal completely.


16 July 2015

assisted living following a stroke

When my mom had a stroke, I knew that things were never going to be the same. We were very fortunate that she lived so close to the hospital and that the neighbor was there visiting when it happened, because the outcome is not as bad as it could have been. Unfortunately, she needed a lot of extra care while she worked to recover from the damage that was done. I found a wonderful assisted living facility to place her in to get the help that she needed. If you have a loved one that has recently experienced the same thing, my blog could be quite helpful for you.