How to stay mentally fit
Mental health is just as important as physical health. For many years now, offices have offered incentives and benefits to encourage employees to take better care of their physical self – from discounted gym memberships to more sick days and better health care benefits. More recently, that awareness has shifted to mental health, and companies are now working to ensure employees have the resources to address those needs.
While physical exercise can support your mental fitness – it awakens and energizes you, fills you with positive endorphins – it's important to dedicate time to keeping your mind strong.
Unsurprisingly, ways to keep your mind fit track closely with staying physically fit. Leadership guru Wally Bock offers six ways to get the most out of your mental energy, plus some additional resources for support. Here they are:
- Develop your mental energy. Just like running or lifting weights, the more often you work your mind the stronger it will be. However, overexerting your limitations comes with consequences.
- Stay healthy and rested. Eating right, getting enough sleep and, yes, working out all support your mental fitness. Instead of viewing these things in a negative light (being expensive, taking time away from work), acknowledge how they support your success.
- Do routine things routinely. Daily tasks shouldn't take a lot of mental energy. Keep to-do lists and set aside time each day to knock out things like emails so you're not wasting brainpower.
- Conserve your energy for important decisions. Apple founder Steve Jobs wore his turtleneck and jeans outfit everyday so he didn't have to waste energy deciding what to wear. Instead, he focused his mind on product innovation. Approach your career and schedule similarly – if you have a big meeting in the afternoon, don't add a bunch to your morning schedule.
- Allow for mental recovery. We all need rest days. You shouldn't feel guilty needing to take a day if you're mentally exhausted – if you can't focus you won't create any value at work. Recoup by doing something you enjoy, and come back into the office refreshed.
- Avoid temptation. Don't put things on your plate that you'll just fret over. Eliminate bad habits and hold yourself accountable.
Being a leader takes a lot out of us. In addition to our daily responsibilities – which can include strategy development, dealing with personnel issues and more – we are also managing relationships with our employees, our customers and our families at home.
It's easy to look in the mirror and gauge your physical health. Take time to reflect on your mental health and see if you're devoting enough time to maintain that.
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