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A better version of me: 6 ways to remain mentally strong

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Business leaders are not only part of the population experiencing pandemic-related consequences of the global recession, economic contraction, and job losses. They also have the accountability of keeping shareholders happy, employees motivated, and customers satisfied.

BUPA, a leading global health insurance & healthcare group, reported that pre-COVID-19, “64% of senior business leaders have suffered from mentalhealth conditions.” Your guess is a good as mine when that figure is compared to today’s reality. Business leaders’ struggle with mental and neurological challenges is real.

Here are six (6) ways you can remain mentally healthy for yourself, your family, and the business:

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1.Cancel pity parties
A pity party happens when you feel self-indulgently sorry for yourself.

Psychologists say it reinforces the sense of being a victim, bringing the person to a place of hopelessness and inaction. Not where leaders should be. No matter the mistakes I make – and I make a lot of errors, by the way – I never moan and groan over them. Wasting energy on mistakes will impact the all-important multi-million-dollar decision a few hours later, as mental capacity is finite daily.

Mentally strong leaders learn from their mistakes and move on quickly, hoping to have an opportunity to practice what was learnt.

2.Embrace change Evolutionary
Biologists agree that “it is not the strongest species or the most intelligent who usually survive but those who can best manage change.” True for animals. True for man. for business leaders battling with this uncharted business environment.

Realtors that pivoted into virtual tours had a head start when pandemic restrictions were lifted. Business leaders who continually think of how to deliver business objectives despite the challenging terrain always perform better.

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3.Focus on the controllable
You cannot control inflation, FOREX fluctuation, exchange rate levels, market volatility, oil price, national security, or government policy. But you can control placing the best product at the best price, at the best time, and in the hands of a paying customer. You can control your budget, strategy, mindset, and the likes. Doing this builds resilience since energy is channeled to the right levers. Being in control certainly gives us a sense of security. However, the brutal truth about life is that we cannot do much about many things.

4.Exercise often
Recent research by Prof. Adam Chekroud of Yale University, published in Lancet Psychiatry Journal, links physical stamina to mental stamina. His study concludes, “exercise is associated with a lower mental health burden.” The report further states that “exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week has the biggest benefits…” for mental resilience. Gone are the days where a pot belly signals significance. Fitness is the new significance.

5.Maintain strong relationships
Dr. Marjorie E. Blum, a leading psychologist in a paper, Self-Defining Leadership, says, “without awareness of the impact of their family, many potentially successful leaders have been derailed through family-based and unconscious choices.” I am always energised and refreshed when I get home and in the company of my wife and children. It is magical. Connecting with my siblings and parent too is enjoyable. Stress and anxiety are automatically lifted. Some of my best friends remain primary school and secondary schoolmates. It is lonely at the top; therefore, business leaders should maintain authentic & trusted relationships.

6.Practice faith & spirituality
Renowned Professor of Sociology Rodney Stark, in his book, America’s Blessings, says, “Regular religious worship lessens depression, promotes self-esteem…and marital happiness…increases longevity, improves an individual’s chances of recovering from illness, and lessens” the likelihood of falling ill. It says further, “health savings value of religious practice in 2012 alone was around USD115.5 billion in the US”. Several studies have suggested that religious activities, such as worship attendance, play a role in combating depression. An increase in religious practice was associated with having greater hope and a greater sense of purpose in life, improving mental strength.

As a Christian, my faith in God assures me of a better tomorrow – the thought alone is exhilarating; expanding & strengthening my mental capacity. You have been prepared for a time such as this. Don’t let the impact of the pandemic have the best of you. Life hardly gets more manageable, but we get stronger and more resilient. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

A Better Version of Me, a series on some of the lessons I have learnt in my leadership journey, continues on 11th March 2021.

“Wasting energy on mistakes will impact the all-important multi-million-dollar decision I will make a few hours later”

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