1. Lessons In Leadership

Brain Health — It’s Just Smart

In stressful times, employee appreciation begins with supporting brain health.  

A year ago, just before COVID-19 started forcing lockdowns, a small group of Freeman people attended a lecture by Bonnie Pittman, who is an art historian, scholar, author, and Director of Art/Brain Innovations at the  Center for BrainHealth for The University of Texas at Dallas. She lectures and consults on how brain health supports physical healing, something she has experienced in her own life as a person coping with chronic illness. Ironically, we were investigating whether our design team might benefit from her unique perspective, not realizing that in a few months, thanks to pandemic-related pressures, we’d all feel the need to work on our brain health. 

This week brings Employee Appreciation Day — and if ever there was a time in which people might feel weary and under-appreciated, surely this is it. Somehow, mailing out a “thumbs up” corporate t-shirt doesn’t feel sufficient. Here’s a thought. As leaders, supervisors, and empathetic colleagues, let’s do what we can to help our people nurture their brain health and reduce stress. There are any number of strategies. Bonnie Pittman urges the daily practice of doing Something New to make each day feel extraordinary and redirect our brain chemistry in a more positive direction. 

At Freeman, we’ve taken this a step further by engaging the Center for BrainHealth in a co-branded partnership to serve our amazing employees. We will be offering brain health strategies designed to strengthen mental stamina and maximize individual performance. There will be training to improve focus and innovation. And we’ll provide access through multiple learning approaches, including self-paced modules and group coaching sessions conducted by experts from the Center for BrainHealth. We hope to reduce stress and amplify well-being by helping participants discover and apply strategies that help them work more effectively from home, make best use of available tools, and focus their energy where it matters most.

The cool thing about practicing brain health is that there is a community benefit. It’s kind of like getting vaccinated to build resiliency against stress. If my head is clear and unclouded by anxiety, I am much less likely to stress out the people I’m working with. And I’ll have a deeper reserve of emotional tolerance when someone else has a bad day. I can de-escalate stress instead of lashing out. I can keep tension from spreading by containing it. I can figuratively give people a needed shot in the arm.

Let me start by thanking the amazing people of Freeman. I appreciate you, and I wish you a healthy year, in every sense of the word.