The mental health of our American workforce matters now more than ever. Times are tough. We have to keep going and be ready to “pop up” again when this is over. Brain science can help you to manage your mind during these strangest of times.

Our brains evolved to protect us in the wild over 220,000 years ago. There is an ancient part of our brain that’s always on, scanning for danger. This is the home of our survival emotions, and our emotional brain reacts faster than we can think rationally. The last part of the brain to evolve was the rational part. By nature, we are emotional way before we are rational.

These brain facts mean there are three key ways of working that will support your brain health:

Calm your emotional brain. We have all had a real shock and have had to make sudden changes to our lifestyles. Sudden change is tough for brains, but they are fabulous at adapting, especially if you help them!

Here’s how: Stick to clear routines for work, relaxing, exercise, and sleep. Do not overwork— it promotes burnout. Get at least six hours of sleep, the minimum for brain health, though eight hours is best. Feed your brain healthy food and drink enough water. Exercise daily. These basics go a long way.

Your emotional brain will have a wobble from time to time. Don’t worry; it will pass. Only read the news a couple of times a day and not late in the evening. Good habits in all of these things will support good mental health.

Connect with family, friends, colleagues, and your wider community. The brain is the organ of relationships. We are designed to be connected, so social distancing is not in our nature and it’s very stressful. Now, however, social distancing is vital for our protection.  

Make an extra effort to stay connected virtually. Thank goodness for the internet! Reach out using technology, and use video whenever possible so you can see people. Be generous and reach out to lonely people in your community. Helping others makes us feel good. Keep your brain in a state of communal connection.

Fuel your rational brain. Our rational brain loves to learn new things, and when it’s relaxed and enjoying itself it’s hugely creative. So, give it something to play with. Learn a new skill, come up with new ideas for your business, have fun, and laugh as much as you can. Make a habit of being creative. Your rational brain will thank you, and so will your boss!

Commit to these three ways of working on a regular basis, and you and your brain will be in good shape for our post-coronavirus world. This could take quite a few months yet, so looking after your brain matters more than ever.

Originally published at