Millennial Minds

On Thursday night I was part of a panel for the Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI). I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I’m so glad I accepted the invite to be a part of such an amazing event.

When I arrived I walked into a room that was buzzing, a group of young men and women were sipping wine, chatting, and enjoying the socia11048752_1065808186777232_4533090328358400601_ol atmosphere. The Panel consisted of three other absolutely amazing young millennials; Julian Brass, Founder & CEO of Notable, Nicole Verkindt, Founder OMX & Dragon, Next Gen Den, and Dan Jacob, Co-Founder of TEDxToronto; I felt a wee bit out of place as ‘The Runner!’

I learned some shocking facts that night about brain health, specifically women’s brain health. “Women suffer from depression, stroke and dementia twice as much as men and an astounding 70% of new Alzheimer’s patients will be women.”

As they start down the road to raising funds specifically for research on women’s brain health I did learn12185319_1065812590110125_1038019196467406335_o that there are things I can do to keep my brain healthier. From wellness, to exercise, continuing education I seem to be doing the right things. And WHBI has so many more resources you can use to keep your brain healthy.

The evening had so many more takeaways, ones that apply to running, life, and everything else in between. Thanks so much to Julian, Nicole, and Dan for all they had to share that night. Here is what really rang home for me:

Be Positive
It really changes your outlook on life when you approach things from the positive side as opposed to the negative. Julian came with the example, ‘I never let people say they have an issue.’ It makes a room feel charged, people get defensive. If instead you come in and ask people to work through a challenge with you, you find you get a very different response.

I have been playing in the research world with the negative and positive bias. It’s amazing how more memorable the negative is compared to the positive. Remember when someone last gave you a compliment and then they followed it up with a ‘but-statement.’ What do you remember, the compliment or the (negative) qualification statement.

Being positive is usually less stressful, which promotes better wellness (including better brain health).

Make ‘Must Do’ and  ‘Nice-To-Do’ Lists
Do you have a ‘To-Do’ list? If you’re new to this than this new way to do it is much more effective. What absolutely must get done, but that list under one heading, ‘Must-Do’. The rest would be an asset to have fall under the ‘Nice-To-Do.”

I have started to work my ‘To-Do’ Lists this way. I actually do it with stickies. Things can actually move fluidly from ‘Must’ to ‘Nice’ and vice-versa.

And it ensures you get those really important things done, instead of wasting time on things that while might be great, won’t equal the greatest rewards.

Make sure you schedule time for yourself
Don’t forget to add ‘me’ time to that ‘Must-Do’ list. If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t be your most efficient self. Spending that 30 to 90 minutes in the morning getting some physical activity in will make your day much more productive. And I promise you you’ll feel better about it.

Make sure you find an activity you like. When we were discussing stress I suggested that if you hate what you (with regards to fitness) you probably are not getting the maximum gains. Think to the last time you did something you didn’t like; weren’t you stressed out while doing it? Isn’t that the opposite of what you’re supposed to be doing?

Find an activity you love. Music and performance are great ways to get physical activity; Dan shared with us how much he enjoys playing the drums as stress-relief. If you’ve ever played an instrument and really gotten into it, you’ll know how physically demanding it can be.

An audience member asked us this and it was remarkable how similar our12189444_1065811623443555_208383176859271105_o thoughts were. We all believe we were helped in some way by at least one person we would consider to be a mentor. Some of these were more formal relationships and other were much more informal, but none of us debated the importance of mentors.

I am so fortunate to have had and to have such great mentors in my life. And as an older runner I am really enjoying the opportunity to be a mentor to the younger runners in my life. But I am also not so closed-minded to see how much these youngsters offer me; everyday I continue to learn from them.

Make Fear Your Friend
It’s funny, fear is really intimidating… until you sit down and really think about what you’re afraid of. Usually when you write it out or speak with a friend you realize that your fears are surmountable, and not only that in your head they are way bigger.

It is really important to work through your fears, and (maybe) more importantly your fear of failure. There is no such thing as failure (Thanks Julian!); failure only occurs when you don’t learn from something. So think about what you’re afraid of and what you think you might fail at, then take a (calculated) risk and get after it!