IRISH TATLER MAN
BUSINESS INSIGHT, THE NEED-TO-KNOW
ON PENSIONS, THE BEST NEW GADGETS
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MEN OF THE YEAR AWARDS
How To Have
3637 IRISH TATLER MAN
A Beautiful Mind
Looking after our minds looks set to be the next big thing,
writes Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson is CEO of Mindapples, an independent non-profit Andy Gibson
organisation based in London. His latest book, A Mind for Business,
A Guide to Making the Most of Your Mind at Work, is published by
Whmaitn’sdtwhehefnirsytotuhihnegatrhtahtectoemrmes“minteonytaolurPearson and available online at mindap.pl/mindforbusiness.
health’? For many people, the answer is likely to be something
negative, like ‘depression’, ‘stress’, ‘illness’ or ‘breakdowns’. Yet ask
the same question about ‘physical health’ and you’ll hear about
‘the gym’, ‘fitness’, ‘healthy eating’ and ‘five-a-day’. Physical health
can be pretty sexy. Mental health, not so much. Water is particularly good for your mind. This may sound
The result of this is that, whilst physical health is now simple, but hydration is one of the basic building blocks of a
something to be proud of, mental health is still seen as something healthy mental state. Dehydration interferes with your working
best avoided, only relevant for sick people, and certainly too memory, and can cause low moods and even depression over the
sensitive a topic to talk about openly. We have no positive image to long term. Even a small bottle can make a big difference.
move towards, so mental health remains an afterthought. Sleep matters, too, of course. We all know that sleep is
No wonder, then, that we have put so much more effort into important, but even mild sleep deprivation seems to have a similar
improving our bodies than our minds over the past few decades. effect on our minds as alcohol. We don’t all need the same amount
We cut down on salt and watch our waistlines, but our minds have of sleep though: get enough sleep to feel alert, but don’t stress
to put up with whatever we throw at them. We know mental health about getting your ‘eight hours’.
matters, but turning that into positive action seems to be more of And, of course, taking exercise can really wake up your mind.
a struggle. Even a little helps. Going out dancing is just as good as a trip to
The good news is that advances in neuroscience and the gym, so there’s no need to be a puritan about it: sometimes
psychology mean that we are reaching some level of consensus you can party your way to good mental health.
about the basic workings of our minds and how to take care of FOCUS YOUR MENTAL ENERGY
them. There is a growing public interest in neuroscience and
psychology, too, from media stories about brain scanning to books Thinking is quite tiring. When you think hard about a problem, your
about the secrets of human behaviour. muscles tense up, your pupils dilate and you expend more energy
It’s time for a change. We all have mental health, and looking than you do on routine activities. Making decisions, exercising
after our minds is a normal part of having a successful life. Just willpower, solving problems – all these things drain your mind of
as gyms became the new trend in the 1980s, it’s time to make energy.
mental health sexy. Think about how you spend your mental energy during your
So what can we do to have a beautiful mind? If we can keep day. Your mind is fresher in the morning or after you’ve taken a
our bodies in shape by going to the gym, or eating an apple, then break, so try to do the most important things then. The more
what’s the equivalent for our minds? choices you make, the worse you get at making choices. If you use
GET THE BASICS RIGHT up all your mental energy answering emails and deciding what to
eat for lunch, you won’t have any left for deciding who to hire or
The first thing to realise is that our minds are surprisingly physical. where to take your partner for dinner.
Basic things like nutrition and exercise can keep your mind going Try to avoid multi-tasking, too – at least when you’re doing
as well as your body. When you are physically tired, you will find it really important things. Part of this is because multi-tasking is
harder to think straight, and it’s even worse if you’re feeling ill. So tiring, but it’s also because doing lots of things at once confuses
the first step to looking after your mind is to look after your body. your mind. That strong intuition you think you have about a certain
Nutrition, as nutritionists will attest, really matters. You have issue may be related to something entirely different that you are
more willpower after you’ve eaten a meal, and the more you can doing at the same time.
feed yourself well during the day, the more energy your mind has. Above all, concentrate on what you are doing. Concentration
High-energy foods such as sugar can help you concentrate for helps us to learn. The more you concentrate, the better you can
short bursts, but they leave you exhausted and low, so try to eat recall things when you really need them. This is one of the reasons
food that really sustains your mind during the day. why mindfulness meditation is becoming so fashionable: if we can
Get a good balance of vitamins and minerals too: your mind focus our minds in the midst of worries and distractions, we don’t
needs a number of different things to run smoothly, so a balanced just feel calmer under pressure, we also think more clearly and
‘‘diet can have a surprising effect on your mood and your remember things better, too.
mental state. Making decisions, exercising willpower, solving problems - all
WHILST PHYSICAL HEALTH IS
NOW SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF, these things drain your mind of energy
MENTAL HEALTH IS STILL SEEN AS
SOMETHING BEST AVOIDED, ONLY MAKE TIME FOR YOUR MIND
RELEVANT FOR SICK PEOPLE AND
CERTAINLY TOO SENSITIVE A TOPIC Our minds are very affected by our emotional state. Background
TO TALK ABOUT OPENLY moods, tension and lethargy can all affect how we think and feel;
being in a bad mood can make you more likely to ruminate on
bad things that happened in the past, or worry about potential
problems in the future. All of this fills up your mind and drains your
mental energy, making you feel more stupid and you get less done.
Your emotions aren’t just a distraction, though; they are telling
you how you feel about your life, so try to learn from them rather
than suppress them. If you are angry, something in your life may
need to change; if you are sad, this tells you more about what really
matters to you. Your emotions affect how you see the world, and
show you how you feel about your life, so take them seriously.
3839 IRISH TATLER MAN
‘‘WE HAVE NO
POSITIVE IMAGE TO
MOVE TOWARDS, SO
Your emotions are telling you how you feel about your life, so try to the situation facing you.
learn from them rather than suppress them Try to fit simple things into your daily routine to reduce your tension
REDUCE STRESS LEVELS and raise your energy. We think best when our minds are healthy, well
rested and free from distractions, so build breathers and restorers –
Stress is particularly bad for our minds. It makes us panicky and your ‘mindapples’ – into your daily routine. Give yourself permission to
forgetful, causes us to miss things, and even changes how we see the take a break and get some ‘me time’. This isn’t time-wasting – it keeps
world. To reduce stress, you need to take control. The more in control you mentally sharp and your mind will thank you for it in the long-run.
we are of the things that matter to us, the calmer we feel.
Don’t get too obsessed with trying to improve your mind, though,
Stress hits when you feel you don’t have the resources to cope with the most important thing is to enjoy it. There are so many ways to relax
the situation facing you, so figure out what you rely on to get things and recharge your mind, from exercise to hugging, reading to dancing,
done, and make sure you have access to them when you need them. and they all work much better if you enjoy them and you feel they work
Your mind, and probably the people close to you, too, will thank for you. So listen to your mind, and learn what it needs, and you’ll soon
you for it. find you’re not only feeling calmer and healthier, but you’re getting
more done, too. ITM
Stress hits when you feel you don’t have the resources to cope with