Generally speaking strong pieces limit the opponents freedom. Think of the effect of your opponents strong pieces. There are important lines that you cannot challenge. There are squares you would like to occupy but cannot, either because the square is too well controlled or because the route to it is unsafe. You have pawns that are blocked. Your King is hemmed in.
When playing a game, put yourself in your opponents shoes. What would they most like to do? Can you prevent this? Permanently might be really good but if it will take them a long time that is also good. And remember that having an advantage in position often provides an opportunity for tactics. If such a chance comes up, don't miss it.
And of course you should try to prevent the opponent from establishing strong pieces. What do YOU want to do? How will your opponent try to prevent that? Can you stop him from preventing it?
Look at some well-annotated games. Read the notes and try to interpret them in the way that they relate to acquiring strong pieces. Consider if strong pieces are ever enough to compensate for being (a small amount of) material down.