Engineering Mental Strength With Physical Activity (Even If You’re Not an Athlete)

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“Get your head in the game.”

“Mind over matter.”

“I’m in the zone.”

With all these time-tested sayings, it’s no surprise that the importance of mental strength is gaining traction in the mainstream community.

If you’re part of the Warrior Mind community, you already know how crucial mental strength is when it comes to athletic performance and physical fitness among other things.

Pro athletes like Tiger Woods and Wayne Gretzky use visualization techniques as a part of their training routines to imagine, sense, and feel what success will be like… and sure enough, they get it.

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But, like anything worth having, it doesn’t just land on your doorstep. Mental strength is a journey, a quest, and something to improve and build upon every single day.

You can’t just switch it on and off like a light switch or a MacBook Pro.

Or can you?

If we can use our minds to shape our bodies and physical performance, what about the other way around?

Can we harness physical activities and cues like exercise, hand motions and body language to impact our mindset and mentality?

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We sure can.

Something as simple as posture and body language can radically shift our body chemistry, emotional state, and mindset.

We can even use auditory and visual cues to influence our mental state, too (ever used a “pump-up” song before a tough workout?).

The coolest thing: the methods we’re going to explore are inherently physical, but you don’t need to be an athlete to use them.

Anyone can use them instantly, and adding them into your daily routine can turbo-charge your mental strength on a daily basis!
Let’s take a look at these 3 simple tips you can use today to overhaul your mindset and jump light-years ahead on your quest to a Warrior Mind.

1.) Body Language

How’s your posture right now? Are you slouched over? Craning your neck forward?

Or are you sitting upright, tall and confident?

My guess is the former (don’t worry– I caught myself too as I was writing this.)

Body language is an insanely crucial factor in how we interact with the world around us, but more often than not, it never even crosses our mind.

And it makes sense—with a mile-long to-do list, and a sigh of relief when it’s finally time to relax, checking in on our posture and body language isn’t usually top of mind.
But it should be. 

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We already know that our mental state directly percolates out to our body language.

Think about it: When you’re feeling nervous or lacking confidence, don’t you tend to slouch over, look at the ground, or touch your mouth or neck?

On the other side of the spectrum, don’t you perk up when your team scores a touchdown or you get good news in a phone call or text?

Of course you do!

Body language and posture are direct reflections of our mindset and emotional state.

But it works the other way, too! You can consciously choose your body language to create the mindset you want.

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A study conducted by Dr. Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School led to a shocking conclusion: one that can literally change the course of your life…in just 2 minutes per day. [1]

By standing in what we’ll call a “high power pose” for 60-120 seconds, you can significantly boost your confidence, self-esteem, and even risk tolerance.

What’s even more fascinating is the science behind it all:
By consciously choosing certain poses and positions (don’t worry, I’ll show you which ones) you’re actually changing your body chemistry. Specifically, you’re altering your body’s levels of testosterone (the dominance hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone). [2]

Great, But How Does That Help Me?

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I’m glad you asked!
You can put this knowledge to use immediately. By holding 2 of these power poses for 1 minute each (for a total of 2 minutes), you can trigger these drastic changes in your body chemistry that will boost your confidence, self-image, mental strength.

After 2 minutes, the study participants who held High-Power Poses saw a 20% spike in testosterone, and a 25% decrease in cortisol.

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The people who adopted a Low-Power Pose, on the other hand, saw a 10% decrease in testosterone (dominance) and a 15% increase in cortisol (stress). [2]

Try it out: The next time you’re gearing up for a stressful meeting, a nerve-wracking presentation, or any situation where you find yourself feeling vulnerable, try on a power pose for 1-2 minutes right beforehand and see what happens.

Even better, adopt this into your morning routine for a daily confidence boost. Just tacking on those 60-120 seconds can take your day from great to outstanding.

Plus, the long-term benefits could literally change the course of your life (hey, you never know). [3]
2.) NLP Resource Anchors

If you’ve ever heard of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP for short), you might have heard the term “Anchor” floating around.

Essentially, NLP is an approach to communication and self-development that focuses on language patterns, sentence structures, and visualization techniques.

It relies on “programming” a certain cue to elicit a specific mental response. While some people refer to NLP as a pseudoscience, in my eyes, the best solution is the one that works. And NLP delivers.

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NLP Resource Anchors (or just Anchors) add in a physical component to the traditional language and visualization techniques that NLP offers, and when constructed properly, simply performing a physical action can radically shift your mood, mindset, and emotional state.

Let me explain.

NLP resource anchors come in many forms, and they’re simpler than they sound. An Anchor is just an external cue that’s linked to a mental state or emotion. You can then use that cue to switch on a mental state or specific emotion, on-demand.

Anchors can even be created unintentionally. Have a favorite song that takes you back to certain period in your life? That’s an anchor at work.

Ok, so what’s the point?

Anchors are a simple concept, but don’t underestimate their power. Build an Anchor that’s strong enough, and you can easily access a specific mindset or emotional state for the rest of your life.

6 Simple Steps to Your First Anchor

Now that you’re sold on the power of Anchors (you are, right?) let’s walk through how to create one in 10 minutes, step-by-step.

First off, make sure you’re in a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.

The exact steps are going to be different depending on what mental state you want to create an anchor for.

Let’s say, for example, my goal is to create a “confidence” anchor that I can switch on whenever I’m feeling nervous, defeated, or doubtful.

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Here’s what I’d do, step-by-step:

  1. Before starting, I’d choose the “switch” or physical component of my anchor. Since I might want to tap into my self-confidence in public settings, like a speaking or coaching event, I want my action to be something simple I can do without people noticing. Maybe squeezing my thumb and index finger together in my pocket.
  2. Next, I need to get myself into a mental state where I feel confident. For 10 minutes of focused effort, I would perform those power poses we talked about, listen to my favorite pump-up songs, and do anything else that gets me enveloped in that powerful mental state. I’d even close my eyes and visualize different situations where I’m just oozing confidence, and make it as intense as I possibly could.
  3. Once I’m truly feeling confident (it could be as early as a few seconds in, or it might take several minutes to work up to) I turn on the “switch”—my physical action. I’ll use that hand motion we talked about earlier.
  4. For the rest of those 10 minutes, my one and only focus is just building and maintaining that feeling of confidence, all while I’m squeezing my fingers together and anchoring that action to my mental state.
  5. Once my 10 minutes are up, I’d break the state and come back to the room.
  6. Finally, I’d set a reminder on my phone to use my anchor 1-2 times later that day, just to reinforce it.

And that’s it! Follow those 6 simple steps, and you’ll be all set to go with your first Anchor.

Don’t underestimate the power of a single 10-minute session, either. I can still clearly remember creating my 3 favorite anchors, all of which I still use today.

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3.) Smiling

Smiling. You’re joking, right?

Not at all, dear reader!

Just like with body language, smiling actually alters your body chemistry by firing up 3 specific neurotransmitters that are scientifically proven to boost your mood.

Even more fascinating: literally forcing a smile by holding your cheeks up with chopsticks works too.

Let’s take a closer look:

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A study conducted by found that smiling activates the release of 3 “feel good” neurotransmitters: dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. [4]

Even if it’s a completely fake, 100% artificial smile that you’re forcing yourself to do with chopsticks, your cortisol levels drop, and you’re instantly firing off those neuro transmitters. [5]

That means you can give yourself a boost of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin all with a set of chopsticks.

The next time you’re just too exhausted, a simple posture shift, NLP anchor, or a set of chopsticks can get you into the mental state you need to crest the hill and push on through. Add these 3 simple tools into your mental fitness arsenal and turbo-charge your journey to a Warrior Mind!

Author Bio:

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Nico Moreno is a Wellness Coach & Founder of, where he combines his passions for science, fitness, and personal development. An avid coach, writer, and bodybuilder, Nico earned his Chemistry from USC, where he coached and competed on the USC Triathlon Team.


[1] Cuddy, A. June, 2012. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are Retrieved from: []

[2] Carney, Dana R., et al. “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance.” Psychological Science OnlineFirst. Web. 21 Sept. 2010. [,%20carney,%20cuddy,%20&%20yap,%20psych%20science.pdf]

[3] Cuddy, Amy J.C. et al. “The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation” Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-027, September 2012. []

[4] Riggio, Ronald E. “There’s Magic in Your Smile: How Smiling Affects Your Brain” Psychology Today. Web. 25 Jun. 2012. []

[5] Kraft, T.L., Pressman, S.D., “Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response.“ Web. 24 Sept. 2012. []

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