Author: Alyse Kalish
Source: The Daily Muse
It’s 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.
Our brain is basically a muscle. (I say basically because I’m no scientist—here’s what the internet actually says on this topic.)
So why don’t we treat it as such? Why don’t we care for it like we care for the rest of the muscles in our bodies? Hold your answer to that and let’s say for a second you decide to make your mind just as high a priority—what would you do differently?
You’d Protect It
Just like we wear a coat when it’s cold, our brains need protection (and not just the helmet kind).
Protection from what, you ask? We’ve all faced hardships—whether it’s losing someone we love, finding ourselves in a new and terrifying place, or facing an obstacle we’ve never come across before.
We may not be able to predict when these things happen or have all the resources to avoid or solve them—just like we can’t predict when we’ll trip and scrape our knee—but if we develop our emotional and mental strength, we’re more likely to make it through unscathed (or less scathed).
Protect your brain (and ultimately, your heart) by preparing yourself for the worst when you’re at your best. Maybe that means learning how to manage your expectations, or working on your confidence, or giving yourself some distance from things that make you unhappy.
You’d Stretch It
Our bodies can handle a lot. Just look at Olympic swimmers, or contortionists, or people who hike the Appalachian mountains and you’ll agree the human body’s a remarkable machine.
But so is the brain (and chances are those people couldn’t do those things without a solid head), and it needs to be challenged just as much as your physical being. In fact, that’s the only way it’ll continue to grow and stay strong.
This means giving it the resources (and time) to be stretched in different ways: reading books and articles, writing, listening to podcasts, solving puzzles, taking on new responsibilities, working on a different schedule, in a different place, or with different people, and engaging in conversations that challenge your beliefs.
Of course, you never want to stretch it too far or for too long. Which brings me to my next point…