Don’t Deplete Your Brain’s Reserves!

Put YOUR oxygen mask on first… so that you can serve others.


Take a break.

Get a good night’s sleep.

We KNOW that we need to take care of ourselves.

Yet, for so many leaders – perhaps especially those who are dedicating their lives to serving others – the pressures and even passion of the work can make it hard to put yourself first.

When I work with clients, one of the most important things we do is create a strategy that lets us hone in on the impact we are meant to have, and create a plan for us to ”get” there – ALL of us…The whole person.

Yesterday I was having coffee with an all around inspirational person. She’s a smart businesswoman and successful author and after a recent car accident, she’s been slowly recovering from a severe concussion.

Like so many patients in her situation, her symptoms have been physical, cognitive and emotional, as her brain repairs itself from the trauma.

She shared an illuminating pie chart with me that shows how our normal, healthy brains use 50% of its energy on our Physical/Cognitive/Emotional functions, and draw upon a steady Reserve of 50% to keep us functioning.

Half of our brain power is dedicated to a reserve.

With an injury, the brain has to use more energy on Cognitive and Emotional functions; thus depleting the Reserves, and creating symptoms that can range from a cloudy mind, pain, irritability, and much more.

Makes sense.

But in our everyday lives, if we’re not careful, we can also deplete these much-needed brain “Reserves.”

Stress, bad diets, and other potentially damaging habits (like the non-stop demands that come when working within a non-profit organization!) can deplete these brain reserves, which then creates symptoms such as memory problems, depression, fatigue, irritability, etc.

Liz Funk in The Economist cites these 5 “brain zapping” behaviors to be aware of:

  1. Running Late
  2. Excessive multi-tasking
  3. Getting angry – RE-acting
  4. Exerting self-control to a taxing extent
  5. Hunkering down on a big task

OKAY!  What can we do?

There are lots of resources out there.  In most cases, you can do all the things you already know you should be doing… just make a commitment to DO them!.

Those of you who know me, KNOW that “taking breaks” didn’t used to come naturally to me. I strive to over-deliver on results and impact, am passionate about helping clients, and have more clients now than I’ve had in my entire career.

It is a work in progress, but my motivation is high to take care of myself so that I can serve others.

Here are few things that that I strive to incorporate into my daily routine.  See if any resonate with you:

  • First, be working on projects and with people where you can fulfill your purpose! And find joy!
  • Take meaningful breaks throughout the day (that does not mean go on social media!)
    • Focus on your breath
    • Meditate
    • Read
    • Walk
  • Set a daily intention for BE-ing – in service to others and to yourself (not a ToDo list, and it is always possible to achieve it!)
  • Commit to a time before sleeping when all “electronics” are turned off.
  • Commit to a bed time. Sleep.

What helps you recharge? 

Commit to just a few actions each day and let’s make sure you are well rested, and your brain is able to do its magic so you can make the big difference in the world you were meant to make.

To your success,


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