Maxine Sold her Small Biz SanityCan 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.

Final Thoughts

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?