April 16, 2024

Mental Energy and Mental Health

“Emancipate your selves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” Bob Marley 

Remember training is necessary for Energy, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Training includes reasonable stress followed by time for recovery.    

Level three of energy is Mental. In both Mental and Emotional Energy, we over train; that is we over use (think too much or are quite emotional) and don’t allow enough recovery time. 

On the other hand, Physical and Spiritual, are generally undertrained; we don’t stress these enough. It’s notable that while physical energy is at the base and spiritual is at the top of the energy pyramid, the process of change happens in reverse order. Therefore we must address spiritual and mental issues before we can make ongoing change within the physical and emotional areas. 

Mental Energy is the fuel for skills such as concentration, mental preparation, visualization, self talk, time management and creativity. All of these deal with the thinking required for realistic optimism mentioned in last week’s blog. Our minds are constantly thinking and seem predisposed to processing in a negative way.   

Remember the Rodney Dangerfield joke? 
You: “Doc tell me what is wrong”
Dr:”OK, you are crazy”
You: “Hey wait, I want a second opinion”
Dr: “Ok, you are ugly too.” 

This is the way the brain tends to work… critical opinions, one after the other. One of the mental tasks is to notice and begin to challenge negative self talk. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is designed for that very purpose
James Loehr, author, Power of Full Engagement, notes the mind takes up 2% of body weight but uses 25% of oxygen. Wow! The use of oxygen speaks to the amount of energy put into thinking. 

We also know the creative mind is more active when it is in recovery, in the shower, during meditation, in nature or on that peaceful bike ride. Our most creative work is not done at work, but rather in these quiet times. Try remembering a song, or the group that did a song. It’s on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t remember it. Later as you are relaxed, not really trying to remember, there it is.

Systematic training builds mental capacity. Concentration can be improved by starting with small intervals of   5 or 10 minutes and gradually growing the time as you might physically increase weights. Then relaxing the mind is the way to recover. There is strong evidence that to be creative we must rest, in the form of meditation or a nap. (Refer tothe NASA  research in the Fatigue Counter Measure Program cited in the Loehr text,  Power of Full Engagement).

In fact, it is advisable to take a 15 minute nap every afternoon. Performance, alertness and health will improve. (Yes – tell your boss you’ve been advised to do this!)   No need to actually sleep. Just close your eyes and keep them closed for 15 minutes. When thoughts wander to work activities, just say to yourself “oh well” and get back to relaxation. If you think you may sleep too long, set an alarm or have someone interrupt. Loehr refers to this process of stress and recovery as oscillatory; he notes it is the most efficient way of using both your mind and your body. 

Loehr also writes of the plasticity of the brain. He compared physically and mentally active retired people with those that did not stay active. Those who challenged themselves physically and mentally scored up to 30% higher on cognitive tests — indicating it truly is use it or lose it. This is quite similar to the stress and recovery we need with muscles.   

Challenge the thoughts to grow. Create mental habits of stress and of recovery.   

Next week Spirituality and Energy. 



  1. Peace n prosperity Bill, I come to your website often but I am usually a lurker. I decided I’d finally post a comment for post saying how much I love visiting your blog as I think your writing is both exciting and helpful. Keep your blog up-to-date and you have a visitor for life, glad to meet you,thanks.

  2. My father lived to 91, physically, emotionally and mentally active until cancer cut him short. He napped every day of his life.