Sunday, February 5, 2023

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mental strength

5 habits to build mental strength in 2023

Embrace your full potential in your personal life and at work.

5 habits to build mental strength in 2023

We spend so much time looking after our bodies, but what do we do for our minds? We brush our teeth and go to the gym so that our teeth and muscles remain strong and healthy. But many of us do very little to proactively strengthen and train what may be our most important organ: the brain.

How do we build the mind’s strength so that it can withstand life’s twists and turns? In other words, how do we train the brain? 

I am the global head of private equity at Raymond James and I have spent more than a dozen years on a quest to train my brain. It continues to be a constant journey, but this much is for sure: The more I train my brian, the more benefits I receive daily. 

I am asked frequently by colleagues and friends, “How do I turn off my racing mind at night?” or “I can’t let go of this incident—how do I make peace with it?” Training your brain can help with these kinds of challenges. A strong mind can help you process feelings of anxiety, sadness, and anger and can help you embrace your full potential in your personal life and at work. 

Here are five habits to help any professional build mental strength in 2023.  


Meditation has been my superpower for the past decade. I practice meditation daily and I also go to an annual Vipassana meditation course. It has become a centering force in my life and allows me to bring my emotional, mental, and physical state into balance each morning. Whether I am racing around the world for meetings, mentoring my team, or tending to my family and my three kids, it always starts with meditation to reset the mind and prepare it for whatever comes its way. 

Meditation is proven to benefit your physical health and your mental health. I have also found that meditation can help you control your thoughts and emotions, as opposed to your emotions controlling you—even if you’ve just had a project not pan out as planned or a heated argument with a colleague. Knowing that nothing externally needs to change in order for you to change your experience of that day will empower you like very little else can.  

I know that no matter what life throws at me, I can find my way to peace and calm. 


In cognitive psychology, the term “cognitive load” refers to the amount of working memory resources that are being used at a given moment. Every six months I conduct a mental audit of all the repetitive tasks that are creating cognitive load that I can outsource or automate, both professionally and personally. That audit always makes me feel lighter and ready to spend the freed-up resources on high-impact projects.

From automating the delivery of my groceries and buying slip-on shoes (so I don’t have to keep doing laces) to delegating projects to up-and-coming members of the team, reducing my cognitive load creates space and freedom in my life and it can do the same for you. 


Ask any athlete at the top of their game about visualization and they’ll tell you how powerful it is. There’s a lot of research showing how visualizing mentally is as effective as actual physical practice. 

The power of visualization works similarly in business. I visualize an important talk on stage, or a pitch to a client, or a negotiation. It’s remarkable how much we can create our own realities by mentally nudging our brains to execute efficiently. 


Invariably there will be acute moments of stress in life, whether it’s sitting across the negotiation table, having a tough conversation with a colleague or boss, or experiencing issues in our personal life that spike our cortisol levels. I have found that the quickest way to reset, in the moment, is through breathing.  

The connection between proper breathing and health is clear. Breathing exercises have been proven to improve mental clarity, digestion, and sleep. They can also have a positive impact on cortisol levels, reducing any feelings of anxiety and unease. Yet many of us do not know about the various breathing techniques that are available to us. 

There are a plethora of techniques out there such as Wim Hoff, Pranayama, and others. I have focused on learning different types of yogic breathing.  Many of these are freely available online for anyone to learn. As always, no muscle memory can be built without regular practice. So learn and practice the one that resonates with you. Soon it will become second nature to regulate your breathing in difficult times—for example, before a presentation to a large audience or before a difficult discussion. 


Metta is the ability to send good wishes to those around you. Metta is loving-kindness, and sending it to people and beings around you has shown to have remarkable benefits, from promoting compassion to alleviating physical pain.  

Each morning after my meditation, I send Metta, a wish for happiness and peace to all beings but also to my family and team members by name. The wish is very simple: May you be happy. May you be filled with peace, well-being, and compassion

Metta has a remarkable ability to soften any harshness of your mind construct, allowing you to show up in a healthy and constructive way to the people around you. Try sending Metta to the people in your life, practice breathing, visualize your success, reduce your cognitive load, and meditate. You’ll be surprised at how much stronger your mental health is in the year ahead. 

Sunaina Sinha Haldea is the global head of private equity at Raymond James.