Ask someone to list their most valuable assets and they might mention their home, or car, or retirement savings account. Others might include family, friends, or physical health. But people often overlook their most valuable asset, the one thing that sets them apart from everybody else on the planet: their mind.
Your mind—and your ability to think and solve problems—is your number one tool for living a fulfilling, successful life. Even if you work with your hands for a living, it is your mind that makes all the difference.
So how do you take care of that amazing biological computer inside your head?
Treat it like a sheepdog.
Let me explain. When I was young, our family had a Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie. All dogs need care, love and a cozy place to curl up. But herding breeds need something more. They need a job to do. Shelties are happiest when they are active and feel useful.
Your mind is much the same. It needs care, love, and activity for optimal brain improvement.
Improve Brain Function
Feed Your Gray Matter
Like a racing car, your brain needs high-quality fuel for optimum performance. If you want your marvelous mind to operate at peak capacity, be sure to feed it lots of healthy vegetables, fruit, and plenty of water. Sugary snacks and energy drinks are low-octane garbage that slow the brain down.
Move It or Lose It
The human brain has a unique relationship with the body. They need each other to survive and thrive. The body needs the brain to tell it how to function, but the brain needs the body to give it fuel and oxygen.
In addition to water and food, your mind needs a constant flow of oxygen-rich blood. Any activity that gets the heart pumping also feeds the brain.
Stress is one of the biggest health risks in modern society. People are feeling overwhelmed, overloaded, and burnt out. According to WebMD, “Studies have found many health problems related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.”
Finding a way to reduce and relieve mental stress can have a huge positive effect on your overall health. Yoga, meditation, mantras, journaling, prayer, walking in nature, or even just talking with a trusted friend, are all great ways to lower stress.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?
The average dog sleeps 12-14 hours per day. While we might not need quite so much, trying to get by on minimal sleep is a recipe for disaster. Sub-optimal sleep can result in irritability, overeating, cognitive impairment, reduced job performance, and even the dangers of drowsy driving, considered by many experts to be as deadly as driving while intoxicated.
Make sure your sleeping space—including your mattress—is optimized for getting adequate rest.
All Play and No Work
I forgot to mention something else about Shelties and other working breeds. They need mental stimulation. When they get bored, they get destructive. A Sheltie with nothing to do will chew up your furniture and all your favorite shoes.
Likewise, the human mind can turn harmful when left idle for too long. Binge-watching seasons of your favorite shows has its place, but consider adding in alternative forms of mental activity such as reading, volunteering, gardening, puzzle games, or making arts and crafts.
Your mind is your most valuable asset and a healthy brain is your ticket to enjoying a rewarding life. Feed it, love it, and give it rest and attention. Take care of your mind and it will take care of you.