Last weekend, I was listening to a teleclasses while eating breakfast, checking and responding to email, contemplating a client session, and reviewing and taking notes on a white paper written by Bruce Schneider on spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical energy.
As I read a passage in “Driving Engagement: Sustaining Success Through Core Energy Dynamics and the Core Energy Coaching Process” suggesting that multi-tasking, stretching oneself too thin, doing too many things at once, and having conflicting demands may impact mental energy, I literally laughed out loud. Guilty on all counts.
How often do you catch yourself focused on or doing more than one thing? Do you ever have conversations where you are so distracted you can’t remember what was discussed? Do your conversations jump around from topic to topic? Do you ever forget what you set out to do because you got distracted by something else?
Often, people blame this on aging or outside influences. In truth, we are fragmenting our own mental energy creating mental stress.
According to Schneider, mental energy involves how much brain power you have available at any given moment, your ability to be present in the moment, and to be alert, focused, and clear. These are necessary for harnessing your mental faculties for decision-making, idea generation, performance–truly all areas of life.
Mental engagement is a matter of focusing your brainpower on a specific goal, role, project, or task. You know you are fully mentally engaged when you are in the reputed “zone” or “flow” where you lose track of time, physical needs, and are totally and joyfully absorbed in what you’re doing.
In a society that encourages split mental focus, is it any wonder that many people are often mentally stressed? Mental stress can be caused by either being too mentally stimulated, or not being mentally stimulated enough. When the mind is stressed, concentration, clarity, focus, creativity, and decision-making suffer.
Fortunately, engaging mental energy—and reducing mental stress—can be learned and practiced. Just like working out you physical muscles improves strength, working out your mental muscles improves clarity and focus.
Ways to work on your mental muscles are to focus on being present in the moment and on doing the task at hand. These can be improved by meditation, setting reminders on your cellphone to return your focus to the moment, or using a mantra, such as my personal favorite, “I’ll feel awesome when this is done.”
Other suggestions are to create clear action plans and remove or minimize distractions. (Hello email, Facebook, and other social media!) The clearer you are about what you need to do to accomplish a goal or task, the more present you will be and the more you can engage your mental faculties.
This is one of the reasons why creating meal plans and workout schedules improves your ability to achieve wellness goals. It reduces mental stress by eliminating ambiguity and improving focus.
How can you identify and eliminate things that keep you from being fully present? How can you practice concentrating on the task or goal at hand? What difference might reducing mental stress have on your ability to meet your goals?
Together we can do it!
Photo by Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net