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Mental Health Minute: Perseverance

Updated: May 28

By: Elizabeth Ramquist, PhD

Welcome to Paseo Aquatic Club’s Mental Health Minute! This is a space where parents and swimmers can find monthly articles offering tips and updates on mental health issues.

How can we push through difficulties, even when we are tired? What does it take to finish a race strong when your arms and legs are burning? Why do you go to a meet even though you’re unsure of the race results? This quality is known as grit or perseverance. Experts define perseverance as “the ability [people] show in the process of overcoming failure repeatedly and achieving success” (Du, Bai, Liu, & Yuan, 2022).

Whether you are a tween or in midlife, the ability to overcome challenges involves similar skills and mindsets.

Keys to Perseverance


First, we need to know what we’re enduring difficulty for. Perseverance means working hard without immediate reward or relief. It is challenging, but having a clear goal gives us a reason to endure. Ask your swimmer, “What motivates you to practice hard this week?”

Social Support

We endure hard times better when we have encouragement, kindness, and resources from people who care about us. Appreciate those who support you, and pay it forward to the swimmer in your life.

Belief in Endurance

We conquer difficulties partly because we believe it is possible to do so. Reflecting on stories of others who have persevered through struggles can be helpful. A study showed that young children persevered longer in a mundane task if they imagined themselves as Batman (White et al., 2016). Another study found that college students persisted longer in difficult tasks after reading “struggle stories” of people who overcame failures (Du, Bai, Liu, & Yuan, 2022).

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is the belief that anything can improve with practice. It involves the willingness to attempt challenging tasks and the perseverance required to complete them (Mrazek et al., 2018). Encourage your swimmer to embrace this mindset before practice, doing homework, or studying for a test.

Approaching Challenges

As we swim through life, certain approaches can help us persevere. When your swimmer faces challenges, encourage them to visualize their goal and remember why they are working hard. Remind them that all difficult skills take time and effort to develop. Share stories of people who have worked through difficulties—biographies of heroes, car ride anecdotes, and podcasts featuring people who have endured.

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." – Thomas Edison, c. 1920


Elizabeth Ramquist, PhD, is a clinical psychologist practicing in Los Angeles. She works with first responders, combat veterans, and medical professionals to help them bring their best selves to work and home. Dr. Ramquist also provides group training sessions on mental wellness. Learn more at Valencia Psychology.

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