Can you imagine seeing this on Craig’s List?
Isn’t $20 a steal to buy your sanity as a small business?
Who wouldn’t pay $20 to destress your life on a crazy Monday?
Me. Yes me. Despite all my focus on money being well spent I didn’t value my own well-being at $20.
I’m not proud of that, and I certainly won’t make that mistake again.
How to Protect the Asset Between Your Ears
This post is part of the Word Carnival, a monthly online event where small biz experts tackle issues with practical advice for you. Read all the entries for this month’s topic, Mental Health and Your Small Business.
The Value of Your Mental Health
Consider how carefully we protect our physical possessions. We lock our cars. We insure our homes. When we were little our parents wrote our names on our clothes.
We also spend time and money to protect our digital assets. From pictures of the last family gathering, to that huge presentation it took you weeks to prepare, we appreciate their value and take care of them.
What about the engine that drives it all? What about are brains? Even zombies are desperate for brains!
All kidding aside, having a brain that’s not rested and revving is like trying to drive a car on only one or two cylinders. Not going to go so well for you.
I’m not sure why we as small business owners pooh-pooh our mental health. I’m absolutely guilty of brushing that aside and discounting the value. I think it’s time for the story of how…
I Sold My Sanity for $20
I’m not proud of this, but I hope by sharing my story it will keep you from making the same mistake.
Now I didn’t realize I was doing it, not consciously. That’s not an excuse (hey I didn’t know I couldn’t rob that bank, why are you arresting me?). It IS a red flag that we can sabotage our own success without realizing it.
As you may know, I live in Minnesota. While every winter we get snow and cold, this past winter we broke records with the number of days it was below zero Fahrenheit. Even public schools were closed because of the potential for frost bite in minutes if you went outside.
I’m a runner, but I don’t belong to a gym. In the past, even in the winter, I could get in at least a long brisk walk outside. Not this winter.
Did I join a gym? Even a basic one for only $20 a month? I did not.
I couldn’t figure out why my creativity felt sapped. Or why even after a full night’s sleep I didn’t seem as sharp attacking a problem. It didn’t occur to me that my lack of exercise was hurting more than my physical fitness.
Then we had a gloriously balmy day and the temperature was nearly 20 degrees. Despite having lots of work, deadlines and 50 things on my personal to do list I decided to go for a long walk. My Irish Setter and I suited up and headed out in a flash.
It felt amazing. The simple act of taking a brisk walk with my dog was like a revelation.
The cobwebs seemed to fall away in my mind. Thoughts, creativity, practical solutions – even without trying they were cascading into my mind. I returned from my walk energized, refreshed, and more productive for my business.
Later that night I realized I didn’t have to wait for a warm day to get that feeling. If only I had joined some cheap gym. I had sold my sanity for $20.
Make the Time for Your Brain
Exercise may not be the best way to keep your mental health going strong. Some people like to meditate, others pursue a hobby unrelated to their business. Find what works for you and make it a priority.
Think you don’t have time? Take the hair challenge.
I’m incredibly low maintenance with my hair (wash and go), yet my hair was getting more attention and care than my brain on a regular basis. I bet yours does too.
I challenge you to consider the amount of time you’ve spent on your hair, including getting it cut, washing it, blowing drying it, combing it or styling it in the last 30 days.
How does that stack up versus the amount of time you’ve spent caring for your brain? Your mental well-being?
Challenge yourself to spend at lease as much time taking care of the asset between your ears as the one on top of your head.
When we sprain a muscle we feel it, we know something is wrong. When physical property gets damaged we can see it. The insidious part about mental health is that there are no easy barometers to tell us if something is wrong.
How do you stay mentally healthy? What are your warning signs that it’s time for some brain care?
Love the idea of taking care of the inside of your head and not just the outside, Nicole. I agree that exercise and proper nutrition help you stay properly balanced and focused. And sometimes you just have to walk away and take a day for yourself to recharge. I’m certainly guilty of not doing that enough.
Thanks Sharon. All my friends know I don’t spend much time on my hair. Besides washing it to stay clean I might spend a max of five minutes a day to style it. And that was STILL more than I was spending to keep my mental health up. What a wake up call!
That “palm to the forehead”, “duh …” feeling. 😉
This made me giggle from the gut:
“Then we had a gloriously balmy day and the temperature was nearly 20 degrees.” LOL! Having grown up in southwestern PA, I know how welcoming “above zero” temperatures can be.
You’re right on the money with this, Nicole:
“The insidious part about mental health is that there are no easy barometers to tell us if something is wrong.” Toooooo true. And sometimes the people who love and care about us the most aren’t equipped to recognize the symptoms. The answer? Keep your mental and emotional well being in the forefront of your mind and make it just as high a priority as your physical well being. As a matter of fact, they both work in concert — as was proved by your nice brisk walk in the wintry weather. 🙂
The thing is 20 degrees really did feel amazing. Context is everything.
I wish there were a mental health barometer. For me I think I just need to be more sensitive and aware of why I feel tired or not so creative.
Hey! I think you’re on to something, Nicole. A “mental health barometer”. Love it! I bet we could come up with a list of barometric pressures, if you will, that will help people to recognize the degree of the symptoms they’re experiencing and when to holler for help. 🙂
I don’t know why we take our brains (and its crucial chemistry) for granted, but we do. And for those who feel like they ARE spending time on their mental health and still not seeing results, go talk to someone who’s equipped to help. It might be a chemistry thing that could be improved with a little Vitamin D (or maybe an Rx), but DO IT. Don’t wait. Being out of balance in our brains is nothing to be ashamed of — we wouldn’t shame someone who had the flu, and we need to look at mental health the same way. Thanks for sharing your story, Nicole!
Well said, Tea!! Nor would we shame someone who’s grieving over the loss of a beloved pet. Or someone with OCD whose behaviors are totally unlike our own.
The name of the game is getting the right help … and not being embarrassed to ask for it.
I share your puzzlement Tea. Who would tell a diabetic – “Hey you don’t really need that insulin, it’s all in your head!”? Or someone who’s bleeding profusely to just think harder about blood clots rather than give them stitches.
Maybe the lack of visible physical reaction is the reason? I don’t know, and I hope it eventually goes away.
That exercise thing is a tricky bastard.
I HATE being on the phone, so I’ve taken to taking walks when a client keeps me on the phone for longer than 2 minutes. Not only does it encourage shorter phone calls thanks to the background noise, it encourages me to get out and about, get some exercise, and even if it goes longer than 2 minutes, I’m still happy because I got my exercise for the day.
I had a huge influx of awesome ideas when I started exercising regularly. Now it’s been a little while (pregnant wife, now newborn son + gym don’t mix just yet) and I can sense that things aren’t as sharp as they were before. I hated the trade off of time spent at the gym for efficiency at work, since you’re spending time either way – but I sure did feel better after a good workout anyway.
Time to figure out how to get back to the gym even with a newborn 😛
It’s ironic that I also tend to walk while on the phone but for the exact opposite reasons as you Nick. I enjoy phone conversations and often get excited, the walking helps me work off that excess energy. I know that there are even treadmills with PC holders now so you can work & walk more effectively!
And don’t be too hard on yourself about exercising with a newborn. Once the warm weather hits you can take the baby for a walk in a stroller. Win win.
You had me at “slightly used”.
Sometimes we know all this stuff and yet we think we are different, we can keep going, we don’t need breaks/walks/down time/anything. Much like you, my mood and brainpower increase exponentially if I can just get out of the house and go to the park (gym… not so much…) But if I can walk or jog and just breathe air and get some exercise, big difference. So why do I sit scrunched at my desk all day and avoid movement like the plague? It’s always good to have someone – in this case you – remind us of the things we should know and yet either don’t or deliberately forget.
Also, yes to this: “When we sprain a muscle we feel it, we know something is wrong. When physical property gets damaged we can see it. The insidious part about mental health is that there are no easy barometers to tell us if something is wrong.”
We’re pretty quick to moan and groan about our aches and flus but why are we so adamantly opposed to either talking about or healing our aching brains?
I completely understand where you are coming from Carol Lynn. My biggest “reason” to not get off my patootie and exercise seems to be “but I’m so busy!”. Now when that thought pops into my head I remind myself that I’ll be MORE productive after the run and easily make it up, plus I’ll feel better. It’s not 100% effective, but it usually works.
Oh Lord the moment I started to add up the hours spent on this rather unspectacular head of hair and realised what I might be able to do with that time for the incredibly important organ beneath it, I felt rather silly! Perhaps I could make up for that by playing brain games with myself when I next blow dry my hair, while doing knee bends and balancing on my tippy toes at the same time :).
But what your post so brings home Nicole is our lack of awareness with regard to our mental wellbeing. Even when our brain aches we tend not to think of it as a chronic condition and one that needs regular care and treatment. Thank you for raising that awareness as so many of these posts have. Glad you are out and about again. And I know we will hear about your gym prowess next time their is a cold snap!
Sandy you may be joking, but I was recently at a talk and the speaker challenged us to do squats while doing other stationary tasks like brushing our teeth. I’ve taken her up on it and I’m amazed how many squats I can get in every day! (And your hair looks great 🙂 )
Yesterday it was almost 60 here, my Irish Setter and I went for a long run.
Man…I needed that reminder…I love to meditate and honestly I have gotten out of the habit again and THAT is what has been missing lately. I have been a little sluggish (adjusting to a new roommate too) and I am off a bit. I would love to get back into my old exercise routine too…but I am waiting for the time to move into a better place…but the meditation helps all of that and I need to take your advise as a mind IS a terrible thing to waste. THANKS Nicole!
I have some good friends that *must* meditate on a regular basis. You might try meditating and adding in some basic breathing or body alignment to cover physical and mental. Even 5 minutes in the morning will help.