“Self care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We can not nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance.“ Jennifer Louden
Over the past couple of months in particular I’ve either been mentoring, delivering workshops or speaking with people who are often exhausted. The conversations are consistent and have a certain element of ‘poor me’ about them. Which is understandable because being exhausted is an awful feeling and certainly doesn’t keep one’s mind sharp or assist in being focused.
There are incredible benefits in keeping your mind sharp. Especially in this busy economy we now operate in. To sort through the confusion, uncertainty and busyness we need to be alert, focused and agile enough to handle what is being thrown at us each day. And not simply handle it but be strategic at the same time. Having a mind that is sharp allows you to be innovative, creative, strategic and confident in what you’re doing. It can also assist in creating a particular perception of you in others that you’re on, you’ve got it together and you’re sharp. Rather than creating the perception that you’re tired, over it and disheveled creating doubt in others in your ability to deliver.
When your mind is sharp you will be able to:
- Deliver a high standard of work,
- Think strategically,
- Remember more,
- Do more,
- Focus more,
- Be in control,
- Feel more motivated; and
- Generally have a better daily experience.
In my experience, keeping your mind sharp is a decision. It’s an attitude that you adopt if you are wanting to operate at a particular level. My attitude to this is simple. People don’t pay me to be exhausted, disorganized in my thoughts and flat. They pay me to bring a particular energy to the table, coupled with a fresh perspective and strategies to improve situations. I can’t do this when my mind is feeling exhausted or when I’m lacking energy (believe me I have tried!). So my decision is to be ‘on’ every day and I will do what it takes to ensure I show up in this way every day.
So, there are three things I do to keep my mind sharp to serve others and also to serve myself. This is about respect – respecting others including me and it serves us all well:
Stretch Your Mind – Keep your mind active and broaden what you are absorbing to extend your mind. Don’t stick with what you know but read blogs, articles and watch You Tube or Ted Talks on what interests you, gain views on what annoys you and look into things that you’ve never done before. I find reading books that are outside my preferred genres to be great for this. Treat your mind like a sponge!
Rest Your Mind – this is incredibly important. Giving your mind the rest it needs to perform at it’s best is essential and often something we compromise. Ensure you have down time that includes technology free time, ensure you are getting quality sleep. Sleep researchers believe there is no magic number for the amount of sleep we need and it can be dependant on the person however as a guide adults in Australia should be aiming for 7-9 hours sleep a night on average to perform at their best.
Feed Your Mind – this goes hand in hand with sleep but as the saying goes what you put into your body you will get out. Feed your mind with healthy foods (including carbs ladies – good carbs are brain food), lots of water and consistent exercise. Try cutting down on coffee throughout the day as this dehydrates you and eat lots of greens, good fats and proteins. Try doing this more often and you will notice a huge difference in how you operate. The experts aren’t lying when they say what you fuel your mind and body with makes a huge difference to your output. Make smarter choices.
The above three tips are simple but of course don’t just happen. We need to make them happen which comes back to making that decision and also planning to ensure it happens. Ensuring that our self-care is a priority is becoming more and more important as we navigate this world. How we function determines how successful we will be. We need to look after our minds and ensure this is a priority for us.