The brain represents three percent of your body's weight yet it consumes about twenty percent of the body's energy.
Believe it or not, your brain is firing when you're pouring coffee and walking to the water cooler. Your brain is even active when you sleep.
But just because your brain is working doesn't mean it's working well.
Since getting ahead in this world requires some brainpower, it's important to pay attention to what's happening with your grey matter. Fortunately, if you find that you aren't performing at your mental best, there are some things you can do.
First, let's identify whether your brain is performing at its best. Here are ten ways to know whether your mental energy is being used well.
1. Your decisions are balanced between emotion and logic
If you find yourself making purely emotional decisions, you may not be performing at your metal best. People who are mentally strong understand that the best decisions are based on equal parts emotion and logic. Try not to make any important decisions while you're feeling a powerful emotion, such as anger or grief.
2. You face fears head-on
Mentally-strong people don't let fears hold them back. They understand which fears must be confronted and they face them head-on. It's true that some fears, like standing at the edge of a 12-story building, are valid. Other fears, like starting your own business or writing a book, are based on personal insecurities. If you think your insecurities are holding you back, it's time to strengthen your mental aptitude and charge forward. New experiences improve brain function, so there's no way you're performing at your best if you are stuck in the status quo.
3. You're comfortable with change
You've probably encountered someone in your professional career who has an extreme resistance to change. Not only is this person holding himself back, but he also stands to handicap the entire company. It's clear that extreme resistance to change is unproductive, but we'd all be wise to see where we may be resisting in our own lives. The strongest women won't waste a minute on the resistance. Instead, they'll jump straight to adaptation mode.
4. You learn from your mistakes
A Psychological Science study found that people who believe they learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who don't. The difference seems to make sense from a logical perspective. Wouldn't you be more willing to try something if you have something to gain regardless of the outcome? If you succeed, you get everything you wanted. If you fail, you win by learning something.
5. You show gratitude while striving for more
Results from a NeuroImage brain scanning study suggest that the more you practice gratitude, the more gratitude you will feel over time. When gratitude replaces feelings of ungratefulness or apathy, you make room for more positivity in your life.
6. You're constantly working on yourself
A PsychCentral study suggests that you may be able to strengthen the medial prefrontal cortex by learning new ways of doing things. The medial prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is believed to be responsible for noticing details outside of a person's immediate focus. People who are mentally strong understand that there's always room for growth. To strengthen your mental performance, consider kicking any bad habits or addictions you may have and focus on positive growth.
7. You start your day with a cup of coffee
If you've heard mixed things about consuming coffee, you're not alone. The key takeaway is that it has benefits when consumed in moderation. And it may also have brain-boosting effects.
A British Nutrition Foundation study found that coffee has positive effects on mood, cognitive function, and performance. If you're not a fan of coffee, you may get some of the same effects from caffeinated tea.
8. You plan regular vacations
Mentally healthy people may know how to work hard, but they always find time for play. It's important to achieve a work-life balance that works for you. So if you're starting to feel too stressed, it may be time for a vacation. Even the act of planning a vacation can boost your mood, according to a 2010 Applied Research in Quality of Life study. If you truly cannot get away, at least plan some vacation time close to home.
9. You play to your strengths
Doubts and fear can really hold a person back. The strongest among us know to tackle their strengths before moving on to more challenging tasks. Even small achievements can boost your confidence enough to help you tackle more difficult projects.
10. You're comfortable relying on other people
When you are performing at your mental best, you should be comfortable letting go of the reigns a bit. You understand that one person cannot handle everything alone. As people, we need relationships to survive. If you're comfortable delegating and relying on others, you're showing positive mental aptitude.
The brain is a powerful organ that's responsible for virtually everything we do. If you want to succeed in work and life, evaluate whether you're performing at your mental best and make improvements if necessary.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."