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How to Best Mentally Prepare for Basic Training

If there’s one skill you need most at basic training, it’s mental toughness. Successful service …


If there’s one skill you need most at basic training, it’s mental toughness.

Successful service members are not only physically strong, but also mentally strong. Overcoming doubts, worries, or concerns that could hold you back from success is a huge part of building mental strength.

Mentally strong people:

  • Don’t give away their power
  • Focus on what they can control
  • Don’t blame others
  • Aren’t worried about pleasing others
  • Don’t give up after a failed attempt

These are the people you see going extra hard at the gym and waking up early to crush personal and professional goals. Basically, they sometimes seem inhuman for their abilities to get things done well under pressure.

The secret is building mental toughness.

Failing to prepare for this most challenging aspect of basic training can mean you’re already preparing to fail. Start now to find the grit to keep going when times are tough.

Here’s how you can mentally prepare before heading to basic training.

Create a “Don’t Quit” Mentality

Before you even leave for basic training, have it in your mind that you will see your contract through to the end. Basic training is hard for a number of reasons, mainly because you’ve never been through the experience before. You made this commitment, and it’s your job to make sure you finish it.

Get an inspirational reading list ready, too. Here’s a list of a few books to consider for additional motivation:

Sandboxx Mental Strength Tip: Tell yourself you won’t quit, no matter what.

Don’t Let Yelling Get to You


From the minute you arrive at basic training, you’ll be yelled at all day long. Whether you’re speaking too softly or aren’t walking fast enough, your drill instructor or RDC will shout — not talk — at you. It’s not pleasant, but it’s also not forever.

Sandboxx Mental Strength Tip:  Listen to instructions thoroughly. Don’t assume you know it all. If you start a task before the instructions are clear, you’re going to get yelled at even longer. Remain calm in your responses.

Don’t Stress About Making Friends  

Basic training has one main purpose: to turn large groups of people into respectable, well-trained service members. However, the people you train with will become your brothers and sisters in arms. Everyone, including you, will be under stress so don’t worry about trying to form friendships early on. These bonds will form naturally as you go through this shared experience.

Sandboxx Mental Strength Tip: Remember you are all in training for the same reason, and that everyone will be pushed to their mental and physical limits, so give your support when you can.

Don’t Take Offense

As you get ready to head out to basic training, teach yourself to let comments roll off your shoulders. There will be a ton of annoying insults and comments hurled your way throughout your training. It may seem like it some days, but nobody is there to personally offend you. It’s all part of the training process.

Sandboxx Mental Strength Tip:  Learn to let it go. Sing silly songs like Disney’s Frozen “Let It Go” when you’re really aggravated. In your head, of course.

Always Be Mindful

Basic training is a very short period of your overall military experience. While there are some challenging aspects, it won’t be hard forever. Prior to leaving for basic training, consider doing some mindfulness exercises. It gives you a chance to take pause and step away from overwhelming emotions in any given moment.

Sandboxx Mental Strength Tip: Find a mantra you love to repeat in your mind when you’re physically and mentally done.

Keep it Positive

You can start training your mind at any time. Doing it long before training is best, though.

It may sound cheesy, but it’s how  successful people get through tough times. Watch any documentary on pro athletes, professional speakers, or powerful business people — all have one thing in common: A positive mindset.

Mental strength tip: Talk to yourself in a positive manner, and only let positive thoughts fill your mind.

Prepare for Basic Training Now

With some practice, mental resilience is a skill you can pick up at any time. Preparing yourself well in advance mentally is just as important as physically prepping. During challenging physical times — like working out — humans give up mentally long before they give up physically.

When you have a goal is sight — like graduating from basic training — keep that as motivation to continue on. Then, think beyond that. See it done. Imagine how you’ll feel. Create that motivational image in your mind as it gets closer to the date you’ll be leaving for boot camp.

The sooner you can start mentally preparing, the better. The mind is a lot like a muscle that needs to be built up. The more work you put into it, the stronger it will be.

See how you can start preparing for basic training now:

How are you mentally preparing for basic training? Share in the comments below!

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Seraine Page
Seraine Page is a freelance writer and the wife of a Navy veteran. She lives in sunny Florida and loves to write engaging content to inform, inspire and entertain the military community.