does not build your mental health

does not build your mental healthMusic Does NOT Build Your Mental Health

Please put down your torch and pitchforks! Hear me out…

I love music….In fact, I’m listening to music as I write this. 

I couldn’t imagine NOT listening to music in a fitness class or with my trainers lifting weights and putting them back down again. 

In fact, I love music so much, one of my posts is the top 5 game-changer albums of all-time.

Again, I LOVE MUSIC!! 


Music does not build your mental health. 

First, the stigma surrounding mental health is simple. Google it and see the results. 

Mental health does not mean mental illness and unless we can change this viewpoint, the stigma will remain. When you hear physical health, do you automatically think, broken arm? 

Mental Health = Health = Mental Strength

We need to train our brain and not just treat our brain. 

Our mental health requires us to be mindful, deal with adversity, and cope with the struggle and setbacks in life. This takes practice and it takes focus. 

The point of writing this is to clear up a big misconception about music, mental health, and performance. I understand if you don’t want to look behind the curtain and not read any further…I’m bearing bad, but truthful news that music does not build your mental health. 

If you are trying to improve, practice mindfulness, and be able to combat the negative thoughts, then there will be benefits in reading this. But, if you’re happy in life, and just want to keep living and surviving, then please just keep the earbuds in and keep listening to music. My wife doesn’t even believe me when it comes to this topic. But, she forgets that when she ran a PR in a 1/2 marathon, she dropped the dependence on music.

Music DOES NOT Build Your Mental Health (Sorry)

Recent news stories about music want to tell you otherwise- Like this one in NPR.  

1. Music ONLY helps with motivation-  

The reason why we dig the sounds during any type of work, spin class, practice, or workout session is that it makes us feel good and we use the music! Blasting some good tunes with high RPM’s gets us moving faster (for a short period).

It helps us gets the workout in! It distracts us and that’s motivation! Put on the armband and get going… Motivation…

2. Music does NOT help with focus-

Life is hard! When fatigue sets in during life stressors or practice, or when we are under pressure, our focus must come out naturally.

What comes naturally must first be done with due diligence. Hence, we perform like we train.

We all have negative thoughts that constantly bombard us and we won’t even know what thoughts will enter our mind unless we have prepared for it. 

Only going through these tough times without music will force us to focus when stress hits or when we are under pressure.

3. Music distracts us-

We are distracted all day long.

We all go through life thinking about what’s coming up, or during any moment of downtime, we look at our phone. Since we are distracted, we often are not clear about what’s bothering us. 

So, we want to add another distraction? Stay focused on focusing!

Stay with your pain until your pain reveals its gift. 

How can we possibly try and improve our mental health while always living up that Spotify station? 

4. Don’t Be An Addict-

How long could you go without your phone? An hour? 20 Minutes?

You don’t own the device, the device owns you!

The thought of living without music scares you? Addicts can’t go without. You’ve become dependent on another electrical device. 

5.  Turn on, Tune in, & Drop out-

We are either checking in or checking out of life and situations.

If we’ve got the music going and we are trying to do our best, we can’t check-in appropriately because we have been checking out the whole time.

That’s the lie, we think we are focusing, but not really.

Don’t believe me? Riddle me this, why do you turn the music down in your car when you really need to focus? 

6. When Michael Phelps does it-  

Phelps and many other greats listen to music “before” they compete. 

Check out my post on 7 ways to crush your pre-performance routine.  

However, you don’t see him donning the underwater i-pods, nor do you see those at the front of races rocking the tunes either. There’s a reason. They are focused.

Since music does not build your mental health. Here is what we need to do instead.

Of course, listen to music when you want to, what I’m asking is that you be intentional about listening.

1. Maximize your transitions- William Penn once said“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” A transition is a process. The goal of a successful transition is that we are in the best spot mentally when we arrive.

2. Breathe- The transitions in life are the absolute perfect time to focus on our rectangle breathing. Spend a little time every day turning the music off and getting centered.  

3. Listen-  to music while you drive or mow the grass, not while training or during practice. 

4. Evaluate- Where am I right now and where do I need to focus? Do I need to relax more, address my business, gain more knowledge, or connect with others?

When re-writing this article, I turned the music off. If you find an error, I probably turned my station back on. 

music does not build your mental health

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness-

6 Ways to Build Pre-Season Mental Toughness 

pre-season mental toughness

  1.  Set the Mental Tone. Everyone is optimistic, driven, and enthusiastic during pre-season. Determine how you and your teammates will approach the entire season with unshakeable belief. Adversity will hit so start preparing.

  2. Be #Blessed. Every day someone is #blessed on social media that they received a scholarship. #Blessed has become a cliché’. Don’t brag about the work you are putting in during the pre-season mental toughness sessions. Save that for the real season.
  3. Sprints- The best way to get in shape is to stay in shape. Sprints prepare the body and the mind to embrace the discomfort.
  4. Avoid Grabbing Your Shorts- Push yourself through these so you’ll be prepared when the season begins. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. You build up your pre-season mental toughness by putting your hands over your head and breathe instead. If you can’t, then take a knee and stretch.
  5. Just One More.  There is a secret to success—Just do one more. One more sprint, one more rep, read one more page, etc. Finish strong- just do one more.
  6. Talk With Coach. Re-connect with the coach and ask how you can best help the team!

top mental toughness coachDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness-

change in mental toughness

How A Change in Mental Toughness Won Two Super Bowls

Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants had a mantra to his change in mental toughness which was “Firm, Fair, Honest, & Demanding.” He was all business! Or as Hall of Famer Michael Strahan said: “He was a tyrant.”

Tom Coughlin had a rule for all of his professional athletes. If you show up to a meeting five minutes early, you’re late. 

Michael Strahan was fined $500 for showing up to an 8:30 meeting at 8:27. He didn’t even show up to the 2007 training camp because he hated his coach.

Tom Coughlin knew that 2007 was going to be his last year, and he said: ” I’m going to enjoy it.”

So, a change in mental toughness occurred. 

He added “caring” to his mantra and mental toughness. He allowed his players to see the real him. 

The first day of pre-season, he even took his team bowling…

Michael Strahan said in his wildest dreams he never thought he’d last one season with Tom Coughlin as a coach, never-mind win a SuperBowl. The New York Giants won it all in 2007.


Dick Vermeil became head coach of the St. Louis Rams in 1997 after a fifteen-year absence from all of coaching.

He was infamous for 3 to 4-hour practices in full pads every day of the week.

He worked his players so hard that before one game in 1998 against the Bears, the entire team had a meeting about whether they should even play!

They had 9 wins in 2 years.

So, a change in mental toughness occurred. 

He cut down practices to 1.5 hours no matter the situation and made sure his players were fresh heading into Sunday.

They won the Super Bowl in 1999.

A change in mental toughness won two Super Bowls.

Change isn’t easy, but it is necessary. It’s too easy to get complacent and become stuck with the mindset that “this is how we do things.” Change is scary because it means getting out of our comfort zone. These Hall of Fame coaches realized that what had got them there wasn’t going to keep them there, so they made the commitment to change.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

your mental toughness

This Element Will Make or Break Your Mental Toughness

Growing up, I was always told that I was a mudder. A mudder in horse-racing is a horse that does better in adverse conditions! 

As an athlete, I loved the slop, poor conditions, and built-in adversity! Poor conditions level the playing field for everyone, no matter the talent level, so I conditioned myself to welcome tough conditions. The worse, the better! The truth is- every element can make or break your mental toughness. In extreme heat, I’ve bonked so hard in races, that I’ve been on the side of the road, throwing up. ( but, I still finished).  

But, This lesson in mental toughness has to deal with another element, WIND! 

Wind is the most powerful element and it will make or break your mental toughness. It impacts all of the other elements, from the spread of a wildfire to a hurricane, and even the windchill factor. In athletics, the success of sailors and golfers hinge on the wind. 

The wind will make you or break your mental toughness! Here’s where I re-learned it! 

On a 10-mile training run, there was a windchill of 38 degrees, it was windy, and raining. 

On my 5 miles out, there was a STRONG tailwind at my back. It felt good, but I also recognized it and was thankful for it.

In life, we need to PRAISE THE TAILWIND!

Too often in LIFE, we don’t even recognize the tailwind. If the wind is ever so slight, we still need to be thankful for it. We did nothing for it, but it is helping us.

It’s only after we experience the headwind that we realize how much the tailwind was there. I would much rather face the headwind early to experience the tailwind later on…

On the way back of this training run, when I made the turn at mile 5, there was the STRONG headwind. It was brutal! At least I was able to prepare for it, so I became thankful for it! I cheered it on.

In life, we need to CHEER THE HEADWIND! 

The tailwind was there to assist me, but the headwind was there to improve me.

The headwind is what made me better. It forced me to push through, focus, and work harder.

I don’t see too many people cursing the tailwind in life! If we are going to cheer on the tailwind, we must also thank the headwind, we can’t have it both ways.

A study in the bio-dome in the 1980’s revealed an amazing discovery for scientists. It was a perfect environment for everything to grow, especially the trees. However, when all the trees reached a certain height, They all TOPPLED OVER!

Scientists were baffled why would this happen. 

The Bio-Dome lacked the element of wind! Without it, the roots system didn’t get any stronger!


We need the adversity and difficult conditions in life. It’s the ONLY way that we grow and improve! 

That’s why this element will make or break your Mental Toughness.

top mental toughness coach

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

Dr. Rob bell 1/2 ironman

The crazy bold Mental Toughness to stop in a race.

At mile 32 of 56 on the bike portion of my 1/2 Ironman, I was beginning a climb on a very small hill.

The reason I only signed up two weeks ago to complete his race is because of biking (and a lack of training). I haven’t biked in about 10 years. I even had to borrow a friends Trek for the race. 

The bike I was borrowing had GatorSkin tires, which are the ultimate in protection. I need not worry about a flat tire. Good thing because my bicycle maintenance was certainly not up to snuff either.

At the top of the hill, BAM! My back tire went flat.

Boy Scouts were turning over in their graves for my lack of preparation. I had none of the necessary materials needed to change the tire. No bike tube, cartridges, levers, or fix a flat, nothing! I was utterly helpless.

I assessed the damage, cursed, and tried to figure out a plan. A house was nearby which I ran to borrow their phone and call the race team, director, somebody. I was not in a good spot.

All the while, bikers are cresting the hill and passing me. Helpless….

Then a biker actually stopped!!! He handed me his tube, levers, and cartridge to fix the flat. He then asked if I knew how to change it and in my most honest voice, said “no sir!”

The saint who stopped to help change the tire was named Glenn Maenhout. It took crazy bold mental toughness to stop his entire race to help out a stranger. WOW!  I thanked him so many times and watched as he fixed the tire. When he finished,  I told him I would find him again. It felt like a Disney movie scene where he’s riding off and I’m yelling, “I’ll never forget you.”

We often can’t know when our Hinge moment will be. The person who is going to make such a difference in our lives.  If not for Glenn, I would not have finished in time. The entire ordeal took about 20 minutes, and the clock doesn’t stop.

As I proceeded to tell other coaches and friends about Glenn a strange thing occurred. Because they were all shocked that someone would do that, it made more of an impact what a generous, kind, and selfless act that he performed.

I then asked myself  “Rob, would you have stopped?” When it comes to race mode, I cheer, thumbs up, and support other competitors along the way, but I’m still focused on running my race….

It is these moments that I am in awe of the servant leadership that people can perform when place in situations to do so. I hope I can answer “yes” and have the mental toughness to stop to help!

DrI did stop here at the finish…

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

Everything we want in life is on the other side of our comfort zone. Building mental toughness means being comfortable getting uncomfortable.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

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My Top 5 Mental Toughness Books

Everybody is an athlete, our offices are just different. 

If you want our updated list or recommendations for mental toughness and sport psychology books, click here. 

“You are paid to read.” That’s what my coach told me, so I obliged. It takes Mental Toughness and discipline to read and consume information. Here’s my top list of mental strength books. 

Power of Broke The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage I never watched Shark Tank, but I do know FUBU-For Us By Us.  I’ve also been broke. This book by Daymond John is a fast read, but more importantly is chocked full of stories and insight from the best entrepreneurs on how: Empty pockets, A tight budget, and a hunger for success is actually a competitive advantage.

Mental Toughness of a POW The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the PacificThe Bridge over the River Kwai was a movie I watched with my dad.

This book is exactly like that, except its not Hollywood; it’s the “real” thing. All I can say is that after reading these mental toughness books, I realized that I can’t basically complain about anything. I simply take too many things for granted. #perspective.

leaders eat last Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t  This is the 2nd Simon Sinek book I’ve read and this book is better than Start with Why.  I always thought that the main chemicals in our brains for success were just endorphin & dopamine, right?! The feeling from a job well done and the feeling of exercise.

These are selfish chemicals though, Serotonin & Oxytocin are the leadership chemicals in our brains. The specific actions that we take release or don’t release the essential chemical we are really seeking. This is just one of the fascinating nuggets from the book.

spy the lie Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception My kids are still young, but I’m now prepared for when they become teenagers. This is one of the mental toughness books that you apply only when needed and you kind of forget you had that skill locked away. 

Coaches & Parents- You need to read this book! I actually preferred the audiobook on this one and I think you’ll hear why. 

Extreme Ownership Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win Jocko Willink has a podcast that is just straight up nasty. There are so many HUGE learning lessons from the podcast as well as the book. Since not many can actually relate to Navy Seals and their extreme disciplined level of life, this book breaks it down so that no matter your profession, cause, or passion, you’ll benefit from reading it. These are one of the mental toughness books that you apply immediately. 

It boils down to one thing- there are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Discipline = Freedom.

mental toughness books

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out our most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

10 Everyday Ways to Build Mental Toughness 

1. Look everyone in the eye.

The eyes tell it all. Your eyes give you away!

The reason we won’t is that we aren’t confident in ourselves. Maybe it is because we are troubled or uninterested in the other person. Don’t just gaze and look away either but right up to the point of it being uncomfortable.

 2. Ask a question.

Ask for clarification or to elaborate on every conversation you’re in. Not only will it show your paying attention, but also you’ll learn more. Few people ask questions for fear of looking stupid, so it’s even better to ask a question in the presence of several people, such as a meeting.

3. Write out your goal for the day.

This is the easiest test, but don’t make it a to-do list.  Most of us just think about the goal instead of writing it down. If you write down what you want to accomplish, you’ll achieve it.

 4. Get your workout on.

Whether you’re a corporate athlete or someone on scholarship, everyone is an athlete. All athletes get physical. These everyday mental toughness tests must include physical activity. 

5. Wake up 30 minutes early.

This is a huge indicator of success and this everyday mental toughness test is a cornerstone for our 30-day challenge. The first hour of the day sets the rudder for the rest. Can you fight the innate urge to hit the snooze and just get up? What will you do with the extra 30 minutes?

6. Work through lunch.

In the movie, Wall Street, Gordon Gekko said it best “ Lunch is for wimps.” Pack your lunch; take a break and be present while you eat and recharge, then grind ahead. Everyday Mental Toughness tests take sacrifice and getting uncomfortable. 

7. Turn off your phone.

This is the tough one for everybody because how long do we go without our phone anyway, 5 minutes? Plan when you get home to shut your phone off during a certain amount of time. Be present!

 8. Take 30 seconds of a cold shower.

Pay attention to where your thoughts go. Its only 30 seconds, can you do it?

9. Listen to someone.

Too often, when someone speaks, we merely start talking about ourselves. Instead, just listen and put yourself in their situation. Ask a question and look them in the eye.

10. Forgive someone.

You can check this one off by forgiving someone who cut you off in traffic, or you can seriously work on this step and choose someone who really hurt you. These everyday ways to build mental toughness are simple, but NOT easy!

Remember, resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves.

Everyday ways to build mental toughness

These everyday ways to build mental toughness means how we cope, deal, and handle the adversity of these challenges.

Some of these action steps will come easier to you than others, but our mental toughness will grow every day the more often we utilize these challenges. 

Check out our page on mental toughness coaching. 

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top mental toughness coach

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Strength. 

Here are 5 Ways Parents Can Build Mental Toughness.

“Perfect little Rachel ” She was not mentally tough and it had little to do with her. That’s how her parents described and introduced their child, a high-school 2nd baseman. That’s pretty high expectations, and I was curious how long they had been calling her that. These tips are how parents can build mental toughness in their kids. 

Check out Our Latest Post- The Ultimate Sports Parent Guide: How To Have A Great Athlete in 2019

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mental toughness at the mountai

mountain top experience

Is Mental Toughness Really A Mountain top Experience?

When I lived in Colorado, I met Russ, who was half-way to hiking all of the 14ers.

A 14er is any mountain top above 14,000 feet. There are 54 of them in Colorado. Some of these hikes are difficult, while others are fairly simple.

The mountaintop experience in Colorado is the best! The feeling of success, the reward of the journey, security, peace, serenity, and the view!

Russ would eventually have 54 of these.

We all want the mountain top experience. 

The tree line in Colorado is about 12,000 feet. Close to the tree line lives the oldest known species of tree, the Bristlecone Pine Tree. Some of these trees are over 5,000 years old, which means they were around when Julius Caesar was alive.

This small tree is indeed tough because it survives in the worst type of environment.  However, the mountain top is not where growth takes place.  This specific bristlecone pine tree is decades old. Due to its environment, it’s growth takes centuries to full maturity.

Check out our post- The PROCESS Is MORE IMPORTANT Than The PRODUCT

Growth and Mental Toughness is not born at the mountaintop, it’s born out of the valleys.

The mountain top experience is temporary and we will spend more time hiking the actual mountain rather than taking pictures at the top.  Such is life. We will lose way more than we will ever win.

Only during the valleys in life, the tough times, the struggle, and the journey is where real growth happens.  It is no fun at all going through the hardships, just as hanging out in the valley the entire hike isn’t much fun either.

But it is necessary. So, Is Mental Toughness Born elsewhere? 

No Valley = No Mountain top Experience.

An experiment in the 1980’s created a bio-dome in the desert where humans could live. Everything actually went great, except when the trees inside the controlled climate bio-dome reached a certain height, they toppled over. What scientists could not account for was the lack of wind.

The wind is what creates strong roots, so that trees can continue to grow.

No wind =  No growth.

If you want to live on the mountaintop, your growth will be small.

If you relish in the valleys,  you’ll grow, and still, enjoy the mountaintop when you arrive.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness