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Do you ever wake up knowing you’ve got a huge day in front of you and just thinking about it is making you feel tired?

Having enough mental juice to get you through all your tasks, assignments, meetings, deadlines and conversations is essential to survive. But what would your day look like if you always felt energised, confident and competent?

Mental fatigue isn’t just tiring it’s exhausting. It saps our motivation and accuracy. It can lead to some pretty bad decisions and also make us feel sad, anxious or just fed up.

Knowing how to maintain your cognitive stamina starts with building brain awareness – what your brain needs to operate well and then putting it into practice.

Tired brains are dumb brains.
One night’s loss of sleep reduces cognition to the equivalent of being drunk. The majority of brains need 7-8 hours good quality uninterrupted sleep every night.
Too much sleep isn’t good either. More than 10 hours at night means more REM sleep, which leads you to waking feeling tired!

Hungry brains don’t focus so well.
Listening to your growling stomach is annoying for your co-workers as well as for you. Neurons don’t store glucose, their primary energy source, so fuelling up with the right fuel is essential. Choosing those foods that improve mood, cognition and performance is as easy as following a Mediterranean style diet – veggies, lean protein (especially fish) deeply pigmented fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains and plenty of water. It’s great for that glossy coat and silky mane.

The less we do, the less we feel like doing.
Have you noticed how if you stop exercising, your desire to get back into the routine evaporates faster than a puddle in the Saharan desert? Brains and bodies work best with regular activity. So use your body to juice up your brain, stand up, move around and get puffed every day with some aerobic activity. People who exercise regularly enjoy better brain health and function, are cognitively sharper, think faster and have better memory because it boosts brain plasticity and neurogenesis. Plus, you’ve got a better chance of winning that next race.

Marathons are not for everyone.
Red Cadeaux does his best work in one hard and fast run. Sprinting works really well if you’ve done the preparation and rest up easy afterwards.
But how many of us attempt to run a race every day driving our brains hard and fast continually – thinking that’s what we have to do to get everything done. Our best work comes from a focused series of sprints, each lasting no longer than 90 minutes, spread across our day.

Take time out for a purposeful pause.
Stilling your mind, reflecting and contemplating, isn’t just navel gazing, it’s about promoting innovation, creativity and insight. It’s about boosting memory, learning and recall, heightening awareness of what is around you. So find that special 10-15 minutes every day, guard it with your life and reboot your mind.

How well do you manage your cognitive stamina?

Does your workplace promote healthy cognitive practice?

What small difference could you introduce to your way of doing things to help boost your cognitive stamina?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/22325484@N02/4015242909/”>flickrgao</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a>

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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