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Brain Drain

Here’s something very few people know about you.

You have a brain.

It’s true! That good-looking lump that sits between your shoulders is not full of cottage cheese, as was so cruelly suggested in your last performance review. Behind that vacuous, hollow-eyed stare, there’s actually a brain.

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I’m not saying it’s a brain that is going to give Stephen Hawken a run for his money, or even Kim Kardashian a run for her money, but it is a brain, and though you usually neglect to turn it on, it’s super important that you know how to turn it off.

Or so I learned from one of the fascinating tidbits of semi-scientific hokum at Pyschologium.com — “4 Ways to Rest Your Brain.”

Turns out a brain can get tired trying to keep up with “today’s stressful lifestyles involving heavy work schedules, hectic social lives and busy families.” [A spleen can get tired, too, but apparently, no one cares about this cute, hard-working little organ. No wonder the Fair Play for Spleens movement is making such a big splash. Go spleens!]

Without a Twitter account, a brain has limited ways to tell you when it’s pooped. Instead, a tired brain expresses itself in your experiencing “headaches, sensitivity to lights or sounds, a loss of concentration, or even simply feeling tired.” Since this describes how you feel on a good day at work, you definitely qualify as someone who needs to rest your brain.

The first of the four prescribed methods is easy-peasy — “Take a Break.”

“Have you ever returned from vacation and found yourself feeling geared up and ready to go?” the article asks. And I think you’ll agree the answer is — absolutely not. Who comes back from vacation ready to go to work? Crazy people, that’s who. All you feel upon returning from vacation is depression, dread and an urge to throw yourself in front of the boss’s Tesla.

“Close Your Eyes” is technique No. 2 for resting your brain. “Even a few seconds may be enough to refresh your brain’s sensory capabilities.” I approve of this approach. If even a few seconds with your eyes shut will make a positive difference, imagine what spending hours on end with eyes wide shut will do.

Just be careful that you don’t walk into the wall on your way to the snack machine. Or, worse, walk into a staff meeting. You want to rest your brain. You don’t want to incinerate it.

“Indulge in Daydreams” is Way No. 3, though I don’t agree that “during our daydreams we are prone to solving problems and challenges that may occur in our day to day lives.” For people like thee and me, it is our daydreams that create our problems and challenges. Like all the time you spend daydreaming that you actually had a job that was worth doing, or a leader who was worth following, or a paycheck that was worth all the work it took to earn it.

Technique No. 4 is “Get Enough Sleep.” While you sleep, “your brain continues working, clearing up the day’s thoughts and processes, making some sense of all the information it absorbed.”

I say — if you’re going to conk out, the least your brain can do is conk out, too.

In order to get the good night’s sleep, Psychologium suggests that you “avoid heavy, greasy foods at dinner time,” which should be “three hours before you’re aiming to sleep.” This won’t be easy. No way you’re able to go a full three hours without eating. My advice? Have a light kale salad at dinnertime, but just in case, take a plate of lasagna to bed with you. You can never tell when your brain will get hungry.

Speaking of bedtime, you are advised to set a regular time and stick to it. I suggest 9:30 a.m. That should give you time to swipe enough donuts from the morning staff meeting to keep you in deep hibernation until the 5 p.m. whistle blows.

“If you lose sleep, don’t be afraid to take a nap” is the final piece of sound sleep advice. Somehow, the author believes that “napping later in the day rather than sleeping in can allow you to feel refreshed without disturbing your sleeping pattern.” Perhaps, but why do you have choose? Take a nap and sleep in, too. It shouldn’t be a problem. With all the brainwork you have to do to figure out ways to not use your brain, you’ve got to be exhausted.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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