Friday Fix: 5 Mental Strength Exercises You Can Do From Your Couch

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Verywell / Julie Bang

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Every Friday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, shares the “Friday Fix”—a short episode featuring a quick, actionable tip or exercise to help you manage a specific mental health issue or concern.

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Episode Transcript

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

For media or public speaking inquiries, email Amy at

Welcome to The Verywell Mind Podcast. I’m Amy Morin, the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind. I’m also a psychotherapist and a best-selling author of five books on mental strength. 

My newest book, "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do Workbook" is now on sale. It’s filled with mental strength-building strategies, quizzes, and reflection questions that can help you become the strongest version of yourself. 

You’re listening to the Friday Fix. Every Friday, I share a quick mental strength strategy that can help fix the thoughts, feelings, and actions that can hold you back in life.

And the fun part is we record the show from a sailboat in the Florida Keys.

Now let’s dive into today’s episode.

Today, I’m sharing 5 mental strength exercises you can do from your couch! 

When people imagine a mental strength exercise, they often think about a physical endurance task where someone pushes themselves to complete some sort of Navy SEAL-like endurance task. But you don’t have to push your body to the physical limits to test whether you’re mentally strong. 

In fact, torturing yourself isn’t required to build mental strength. Sure, you might do things that feel slightly uncomfortable–but you can choose whether that means physical or emotional discomfort. 

Building mental strength doesn’t have to be miserable. In fact, if it’s miserable you probably won’t stick to it. Building mental strength is a lot like building physical strength. If you’re trying to force yourself to do something you hate, you will struggle. If you love running outside, it’s easier to stick to that fitness routine than it is to hit the treadmill. So while some people love physical challenges that help them build mental strength, others appreciate mental strength exercises that require more emotional work than physical.

Here are five mental strength exercises you can do from your couch:

1) Put a name to whatever it is you’re feeling right now

You may have heard someone say something like, “you have to name it to tame it.” But research shows just putting a name to your feelings helps take the sting out of them.

Labeling an emotion also helps you make more sense of your situation. Just saying, “I’m anxious right now,” helps your brain make more sense of what’s going on in your body–like your raised blood pressure or increased heart rate. It might also help your brain recognize why there are so many thoughts running through your head all at once or why your brain keeps focusing on worst-case scenarios–anxiety will do that.

Or, if you're feeling sad about something, label it as sadness so you can begin healing. Suppressing your emotions only wastes precious time and energy. As soon as you acknowledge how you're feeling, you can begin to address the issue.

2) Ask if your feeling is a friend or an enemy

This is one of my favorite exercises. Once you identify how you’re feeling, ask if it’s a friend or an enemy.

It’s likely that almost any emotion has the power to be helpful at times and not helpful at other times. But too often, we think about emotions as either being positive or negative.

Someone might say that anger is a bad emotion. It’s certainly an enemy when it causes you to do something that you regret. But at other times, anger might give you courage. You might stand up for someone who is being picked on because you are angry. Or you might find the courage to quit a job that you hate when your boss does something horrible and you’re angry.

The reverse is also true, however. Those emotions we think are good–like excitement also have a dark side. It’s fun to feel excited when you’re about to go on a vacation. In that case, excitement is your friend. But if someone comes to you with a get-rich-quick scheme, you might get so excited about getting rich, that you buy in because your excitement keeps you from recognizing the risk. In that case, excitement is your enemy.

If your feelings are a friend, embrace them–or at least allow yourself to experience them for a little bit before you distract yourself or do something that shifts your mood.

If your feelings are an enemy, there are two things you can do to change your emotional state: change the way you’re thinking or change your behavior.

Sometimes, you can do both. You might think about the best-case scenario and then get up and go for a walk or complete a task–like cleaning the house.

Or, since this episode is about exercises you can do from your couch, you might read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or call a friend. The point is, if your feelings aren’t helpful, don’t stay stuck in them.

3) Identify three things you feel grateful for

There’s tons of research on gratitude. The benefits range from better sleep quality to increased happiness. People who practice gratitude even tend to live longer.

If you like to write, writing in a gratitude journal can have big benefits–especially if you do it right before you go to sleep. Studies show people who write in a gratitude journal at bedtime enjoy better quality sleep. 

If you don’t enjoy writing, just thinking about the things you’re grateful for can still be a powerful mental strength builder. It can help you focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. This can help you break out of a pattern of negativity when you’re only focused on the things that are going wrong in your life.

You don’t need huge things to be grateful for. You might just be grateful that you got to talk to your cousin via text message, that you had something good for lunch, and that you have clean water to drink. 

4) Write yourself a kind letter

We’ve talked about this one on the show before. It’s simple but really powerful. You know how kind words from a friend or a family member can be so helpful when you’re going through a rough time? Well, your own words might be even more powerful.

If you're like most people, you're probably too hard on yourself. You might call yourself names, doubt your abilities, and tell yourself that you're not good enough. Harsh words won't drive you to do better or accomplish more. Instead, you'll hold yourself back. The key to doing your best involves self-compassion. 

Write yourself a letter that is filled with honest but kind words. It might be a simple letter that says how you know you’re going to get through this tough time in your life. Or it might be a letter reminding you that although life is hard sometimes, you’re a kind person–and that’s what really matters.

You might pick a specific challenge you’re facing too. Like if you’ve been diagnosed with a health condition that is going to require some changes to your lifestyle, write a letter that reminds you that you’re strong, you can get through it, and even on your toughest days, you can do it.

Whenever you need a little boost, read over that letter. It can help you feel better and also keep you motivated to keep going.

5) Create a list of reasons why

Take a minute and think about a habit in your life that you’d like to change. It might be something that you want to do more often–like go for walks after dinner.

Or it might be a habit you want to do less often–like calling your ex when you feel lonely. Once you identify that habit, create a list.

If it’s a habit that you want to do more often, write a list of the reasons why doing that thing is a good idea. Going for a walk might be good for your health, it boosts your mood, and you always feel better after.

See if you can come up with five ideas. Whenever you are struggling to motivate yourself to do that thing, read over the list. It can give you the motivation to do it.

If it’s something you want to do less often, write a list of reasons why that thing is bad for you. You might say that talking to your ex wastes your time, stirs up romantic feelings, and decreases your self-respect. See if you can come up with five things. Whenever you’re tempted to do that thing that is bad for you, read over the list. It can prevent you from making a poor decision. Keep that list handy and refer to it whenever you need it.

So those are five mental strength exercises you can do from the couch: put a name to your feelings, ask if your feeling is a friend or an enemy, identify 3 things you’re grateful for, write yourself a kind letter, and create a list of reasons why.

Although you can't stay on the couch forever if you want to grow mentally stronger, you can get a good start on building mental muscle without lifting a finger—put a name to your feelings, ask if your feelings are a friend or an enemy, identify three things you’re grateful for, write yourself a kind letter, and create a list of reasons why you should or shouldn’t do something.

Work on training your brain to think differently and focus on managing your emotions. Then, focus on taking positive action and you'll be on your way toward reaching your greatest potential.

Make sure to tune into the show on Monday. We’re talking to legendary surfer Kelly Slater. He’s an 11-time world champion and he’s talking about how to stay passionate about something for a long time without burning out.

If you know someone who could benefit from hearing this message, share the show with them. Simply sharing a link to this episode could help someone feel better and grow stronger.

Make sure to subscribe to us on your favorite platform so you can get mental strength tips delivered to you every single week. 

Do you want free access to my online course? It’s called 10 mental strength exercises that will help you reach your greatest potential. To get your free pass, all you have to do is leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Then, send us a screenshot of your review. Our email address is We’ll reply with your all-access pass to the course.

Thank you for hanging out with me today and listening to the VW Mind podcast. 

And as always, a big thank you to my show’s producer, who has as many pairs of favorite shoes as he does favorite songs, Nick Valentin.

By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.