1. Thoughts from the Zeitgeist

Stop and smell the roses

The third in a series on the journey for better brain health.

As my Freeman cohort and I continue our course with the Center for BrainHealth® in Dallas, I have noticed a few specific things: 1) much of it feels like common sense; 2) some of it is counter intuitive; 3) in either case, it works.

For example, the instructors talk about Strategic Attention – focusing hardest on what’s most important. Well, yeah, that’s what everyone is trying to do. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t cooperate. So, we are learning some handy tactics. Here’s one I like. Think of the things that are a top priority as elephants, and the things that demand your time but aren’t strategic priorities as rabbits. Plan your day to allow at least two 45-minute sessions with the elephants and then chase the rabbits as you can. It’s a way to give yourself permission to ignore everything else (everybody else) by focusing on that ONE THING long enough to make meaningful headway. It seems obvious, but all I can say is try it for yourself. It takes some discipline to stay with the elephant, but it’s so rewarding.

Here’s one that’s counterintuitive. To really prepare for wrangling those elephants — do nothing for five minutes. Nothing. In fact, plan your day to include five sessions of doing nothing for five minutes. This doesn’t mean checking email or making coffee. It means closing your eyes for five minutes, or watching the leaves change color, or petting your dog. Literally, stop and smell the roses. Because that anxiety and stress you are feeling is your brain needing to reboot. This is key to building mental resilience.

If you’re like me, that first attempt at doing nothing feels a bit stressful, because you know how many things you’ve still got to do that day. But here’s the thing — you’ll get those five minutes back by being more productive, more focused and more effective. Give your brain a break, and it will pay you back with interest. Pun intended.

Reminder:  If you want to embark on your own personal BrainHealth journey, you can sign up at thebrainhealthproject.org.

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