Start thinking of your mental health the same way you think of your physical health.
Your mental diet is just like your physical diet, what you consume is directly related to your mental state. Consuming junk in your mental diet is going to lead to anxiety, depression and a long list of other things.
We’re all starting to understand this concept. The mass exodus of social media platforms over the past few years is indicative of this.
While we’re all starting to understand the concept of you are what you eat… even for your brain, there is one mental hack that will drastically improve your mental state, resiliency, and capacity to handle difficult things in life.
That one hack? Doing hard things.
How Hard Things Make You Resilient
While we don’t have a lot of experience training Navy Seals or Elite special operators, the rise of podcasting have made some of their stories easily accessible. One thing that always comes up is how difficult the training is.
The other thing that comes up is how calm and collected they can be in the most stressful situations.
There are countless stories from popular “hardwork” celebrities like Jocko Willink, David Goggins, Marcus Luttrell, Andy Stumpf and many more that talk about some of the unimaginable situations they’ve been in.
While we all have our own opinions on military actions, one thing we can all agree on is how resilient and how much capacity for suffering these people in this line of work have.
The hard things
For the most part, the hardest things that these people go through is in training. By exposing them to situations that are more difficult than most of what they would encounter in the field, they’re building their capacity for stress.
When these folks are in real-life scenarios, they can find comfort knowing they’ve succeeded in more difficult circumstances.
What does this have to do with crossfit?
CrossFit applies the exact same concept.
By participating in exercise that is at a higher intensity, in a safe and monitored environment, you’re certainly building your capacity for difficult situations physically.
But you’re also building mental capacity.
Now, CrossFit is only as hard as you make it. And it’s hard for the seasoned CrossFitter as it is for the person who’s in their first ever class. Everyone experiences that challenge, but the capacity for physical output changes.
When you’re starting one of the week’s 30 minute workouts – a workout time frame that is considered very long for most people doing CrossFit (me included!) and you start off much faster than you should… your body is simply not going to be able to maintain that pace. Typically when this happens people start breathing very heavily, taking breaks, feeling the lactic acid build up start worrying about how much time they’ve got left.
It’s these moments that are honing your mental resilience.
You have the option to quit because the workout has become too hard OR you can get your breathing under control, find a pace that is manageable for the amount of time you have left in the workout and prioritize high quality movements .
Every single person in classes take the second option. This is the mental workout.
Only 5 more burpees until I move on.
I’ve already finished half the workout.
Just pick up the kettelbell – you’re almost done.
In each difficult workout, most of us are struggling through some of these things and talking ourselves into continuing.
This is what makes you superhuman.
How this applies to everyday life.
Are you someone who hates cleaning?
Set a timer. 20 minute Power Clean. You can do 20 minutes of something you don’t like.. You did that burpee workout last week!
Use this mental fortitude to push through mental barriers. Maybe it’s something you hate doing at work, or some boring task you find challenging to get through.
It’s also helps you regulate your emotions in stressful situations and avoid panic – don’t worry, you’ve been in this place before!
Building the mental engine
CrossFit is no doubt one of the most effective, if not the most effective fitness program that’s ever existed. The data is very clear.
But the reason it stuck goes beyond the physical benefits that people experience.
People develop discipline with CrossFit.
They become someone who believes in themselves.
Instead of thinking you aren’t capable, you’ll start thinking that you can do anything. Hard work and consistency are the two biggest teachings that come out of CrossFit, and these are what we need to sharpen our mental tools.