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Mental Health

Mental Strength Tips from a West Point Psychologist

Nate Zinsser teaches cadets at the famed military academy West Point how to develop their mental strength. His tips work beyond the battlefield as well and can be applied to entrepreneurship. Starting a business is hard, but it might be a little easier if you follow some advice from Zinsser.

Entrepreneurs, like soldiers, need endurance and resilience to stay the course. They also need a solid strategy and stress management methods. Zinsser runs the performance psychology department at West Point and teaches cadets how to handle the worst that the battlefield will throw at them. His new book, The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance, will be available for purchase in late January of 2022.

Until then, here are a few of his inside secrets. 

Train yourself to relax on cue. 

Have you ever seen people who seemed so calm regardless of their circumstances that they seemed like they were channeling the energy of an ancient Buddha? And then, if you’re like me, you just assumed they had magic powers and there’s no way you could achieve that state of mental bliss. 

Well, Zinsser says you’re wrong, and good news – you, too, can teach your mind to quiet down and relax on cue. Psychological techniques can be taught and used to quiet the noise in your brain and relax, even if you’re in a physically stressful situation. 

“You essentially rest your brain, with physiological changes in blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen uptake, and blood lactate accumulation,” Zinsser said in an interview with media company Bloomberg.

Don’t waste your energy being negative.

Zinsser says that negative emotions like fear and anger drain your energy. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects or what is going wrong, he teaches West Point cadets to recognize when negative emotions are encroaching on their minds in an unhelpful way. He also says to avoid complaining at all costs, which is why I want to enroll my three kids in West Point ASAP. But they’re all under age 9, so we may have to wait a few years. 

Fill your tank with whatever fuels you. 

Soldiers can’t muster mental or physical strength out of thin air, and you – or any other entrepreneur – probably can’t, either. Instead, it’s important to fill your tank with whatever fuels your mind and body and keep it full at all times, so that your energy reserves are there and ready for you to tap into when needed. 

“Do the things you need to give yourself success and energy in a suboptimal environment,” Zinsser says. That might mean getting extra sleep or taking extra time to prepare for a difficult test. This also means giving up extra things that are tempting but don’t fill your tank, like pulling an all-nighter at the bar with friends or binge-watching Sons of Anarchy all weekend. 

For more tips and information, look for Zinsser’s book next month.

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