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Surviving Survivor: Building mental strength and resilience

Brooke Jowett
Brooke Jowett on the set of tv show Survivor
Image courtesy of Channel 10

I often get asked what the key to success is on Australian Survivor, and my answer is always the same: mental strength and resilience.

Brooke Jowett on the set of tv show Survivor
Image courtesy of Channel 10

Growing up, I never thought much about resilience and mental strength, but looking back on it now, I can see that these traits were ingrained in me from a very young age.

Both of my parents took pride in their strength. My mum was – and still is – a strong-willed and independent role model for me. My dad taught me that pain is temporary and to only cry if something really hurt and deserved my tears. It is thanks to both of my parents that I was able to survive a combined 92 days on an island, where I spent time hanging onto poles for a stupid amount of time and standing on sharp foot pegs past the point of breaking skin.

I truly believe that with mental strength and resilience, we can push our bodies a lot further than we realise.

What is the difference between mental strength and resilience?

Mental strength and resilience are often used interchangeably but there’s a significant difference between the two.

Resilience refers to our ability to recover from setbacks or challenges. Mental strength, on the other hand, is all about our ability to deal effectively with stress and pressure; it’s being able to perform to our best irrespective of challenges.

To put it another way, resilience is how quickly you get back on the horse after falling off, whereas mental strength is what gets you on the horse in the first place.

Related: 1 month to mental strength: What is resilience and how do I build it?

Brooke Jowett competing on Australia Survivor tv show
Image courtesy of Channel 10

How mental strength and resilience helped me through Survivor

Competing on Australian Survivor All-Stars was the toughest challenge I’ve faced to date. I had minimal food, only five items of clothing and a bunch of strangers who wanted to send me packing.

To the audience, it may have looked like I was constantly smiling out there, but there wasn’t a day that passed that I found to be easy. I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone, whether that be in a physical challenge or in an uncomfortable social situation. I shivered through the freezing, rainy nights praying for time to move faster and yet still, after all that, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Why? Well, Survivor pushed me to my limits and made me realise how mentally strong and resilient I am. It taught me that with determination, mind power and self-belief, I could achieve things I never thought possible.

With determination, mind power and self-belief, I could achieve things I never thought possible.

Mental strength and resilience aren’t traits that I ever specifically trained for; however, I think the way I developed these skills was by always getting out of my comfort zone. I’ve always had a ‘try everything once’ approach to life and it’s this mentality that has brought on the realisation that discomfort can be a positive thing.

Related: How to improve and build your self confidence

How can you build mental strength and resilience?

Ready to transform your mind and body? Here are some of my top tips for building your mental strength and resilience

1. Get outside your comfort zone

Try to do something each day that scares you. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as signing up to be dropped on a deserted island for days. It could be trying a new sport, speaking to the barista at your local coffee shop or calling someone that you haven’t spoken to for a while. Anything outside of your comfort zone that makes your stomach turn just a little is what you’re aiming for.

2. Meditate

Five to 10 minutes a day is more than enough to focus your mind and shift your way of thinking. Challenging yourself with stillness can sometimes be more difficult than pushing through physical discomfort.

3. Journal

Journaling can be a great tool to get a deeper understanding of who you are, your strengths and your weaknesses.  Self-belief and awareness play an important role in building mental strength.

4. Move your body

If you’re new to exercise, set yourself a 30-minute block three times a week to challenge yourself with a workout. If you’ve already got yourself a fitness routine, opt for something different once a week to challenge your boundaries. Pushing yourself through a challenging workout is a great tool to test and improve your mental strength.

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Fitness influencer Brooke Jowett laughing

Brooke Jowett

Brooke Jowett is a qualified fitness professional and popular media personality, best known for her appearance in Australian Survivor, All Stars 2020. Most recognised for her physical efforts during the challenge component of the game, she has grown a strong social engagement over the past few years with followers seeking inspiration from her physical and mental determination. With qualifications in health science and personal training, Brooke combines her academic knowledge with personal insights when sharing her health and wellness messaging and guidance. For Brooke, it’s also about creating a positive attitude, stepping out of your comfort zone and enjoying the lighter side of life. Brooke loves travelling, spending time outdoors with her dogs and spoiling her niece and nephew. She recently launched her own sustainable activewear range for women, JRSY celebrates women of all shapes and sizes while working towards building a more sustainable future.