It only takes 20 minutes to build mental strength — here's how

This short breathing workout, developed for Chris Hemsworth's fitness app, improves resilience and reduces stress

Woman laying down meditating
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lifting weights is one way to build strength, but it's not the only way. With this short breathing workout, you can develop mental strength, improve your wellbeing, and feel more relaxed in just 20 minutes, and you won't need any equipment or a gym membership to get started. 

So, you can put away your set of the best adjustable dumbbells and take a comfortable seat somewhere you won't be disturbed for a short while. If you're somewhere a bit noisier, it might be worth listening to the session through a pair of the best workout earbuds to block distractions. 

This routine, developed by Chris Hemsworth's workout app Centr, is designed to help you relax and wind down at the end of the day. Although they've called it a sleeping meditation, you can do it whenever you're after a bit of restoration throughout the day — which can be essential at this time of year. 

The session is narrated by Centr trainer Jess Kilts, who refers to it as a "mental massage". "Your mind needs a massage as much as your muscles do," Kilts says, so you'll start with deep breathing exercises to lower your heart rate before moving on to a full-body scan. 

Watch Centr's 20-minute calming meditation

Although it might not sound like it, this is a form of mindfulness meditation that helps you develop an awareness of the present moment. 

Our minds are often filled with thoughts about the past or future, replaying events or planning for things that haven't happened yet; this makes it hard for us to be fully present with what's happening around us. That's why Kilts' short session is designed to help you connect with your body, so you notice how each area of your body feels. This can help you release tension, improve your posture, and feel more relaxed. 

It's like learning how to meditate, except you're focusing on your whole body rather than just your breath. Yet, despite this difference, both techniques have similar results; reduced stress, improved overall wellbeing and increased resilience. This last point plays a vital part in developing mental strength. 

Like physical strength, it takes ongoing practice to maintain, but mental strength helps you tackle challenging or stressful moments in life. And, helpfully, you don't have to lift weights to develop it. Instead, you can use sessions like this one to grow stronger while lying down with your eyes closed. 

This is why meditation is one of the top self care ideas you can do without breaking the bank. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.