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Whether you are looking to take yourself to the next level in your daily workout or if you have a big challenge in life (job interview?), facing down pressure and operating at your best when the stakes are high is a skill we could probably all use a little help in mastering. Here are four tips to increase your mental toughness next time the situation demands a “bring it on” attitude.

  1. Deal with negative thoughts. Doubting yourself is natural. While you may be tempted to try and ignore those internal criticisms, acknowledging them and redirecting them may work even better. One example would be to turn “I can’t compete” into “I love a challenge.”
  2. Learn to refocus quickly. Maybe something great happened, or maybe you made a mistake. Either way, it is fine to express whatever emotion you are feeling—happiness or frustration—but the key is not to linger on that too long. Even a triumph can affect your focus, leaving you unprepared for the next challenge, be it mental or physical.
  3. Control your emotions. It can be all too easy to let your temper flair, but a crucial tip to increase your mental toughness is having a handle on your emotions. Having some strategies for getting a grip if you feel your temper getting away from you is crucial. For instance, leave the room or count to 10. Anything that gives you a chance to reign in your wayward emotions will do.
  4. Visualize the outcome. Developing a mental picture of what you want to have happen may seem silly, but it can actually help give you a performance advantage, whether you are preparing for a big race or a job interview. It’s still important to actually practice, but thinking about what you want to achieve in advance offers a little extra edge.