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Mental Acuity: Increasing the Sharpness of the Mind


a picture of a silohuette of a person with color images branching from the mind.

Mental acuity, the ability to operate with mental sharpness or keenness of perception, is a skill often undervalued in leadership. In simple terms, it's quick-wittedness. Yet, it's one of the most powerful cognitive tools for effective leadership. Regardless of academic achievements, certifications, or years of experience, sharp thinking, seeing, and hearing can elevate leadership to new heights, fostering personal growth (for self, marriage, and family) and professional success.


Improving mental acuity is a manageable task. It's a journey that can be embarked upon with practical and effective methods. Today, we will focus on a few ways to improve through the areas of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These approaches are not theory-based. They have been put to the test.


Sharpness of the Mind #1- Mental


One effective way to improve mental acuity is through repetition. Repeating tasks or information can exercise your mind and strengthen your memory. Each time you repeat something, your brain forms new connections and strengthens existing ones. Writing down, saying aloud, and visualization are all techniques that can help boost memory. This method has worked for me and clients who need help learning new information or obtaining the necessary information. Retaining information through repetition keeps the mind sharp.


Examples:

Learning a new language, policy, or scripture.


Sharpness of the Mind #2 - Emotional


Emotional processing is not a forbidden luxury; it's a necessity for maintaining good mental health. Acknowledging, processing, and releasing your emotions is a crucial step towards mental acuity. Holding on to emotional baggage is one sure way to affect your mental health. We understand that when mental health is negatively impacted, thinking clearly or quickly is impossible. So, take care of your emotions, and your mental acuity will follow.


Examples:

Journaling or talk-it-out with self, a trusted confidant, or God.


"Improving mental acuity is a manageable task. It's a journey that can be embarked upon with practical and effective methods." – Equalla Foster

Sharpness of the Mind #3 - Physical


Make moves. Dedicate time to not being stationary, working up a sweat, and building stamina.


A Harvard article states, "Moderate-intensity exercise can help improve your thinking and memory in just six months. Exercise benefits health in so many ways. It preserves muscle strength; keeps your heart strong; maintains a healthy body weight; and staves off chronic diseases such as diabetes. However, exercise can also boost memory and thinking skills. "There's a lot of science behind this," says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.


Bonus: Sleep. Do not despise the significance of rest. Getting enough sleep can help with discernment, amongst other things.


Examples:

Walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or dancing.


Sharpness in the Mind #4 - Spiritual


Restoration is a key aspect of spiritual practice for followers of Christ that is critical to allowing the soul to be refreshed as often as possible. It involves communion with the Lord. This dedication can help with clarity, understanding, and the proper handling of life stressors, all of which are important for maintaining mental acuity. We envision this through the reading of Psalm 23, which states, "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul (verses 2-3).


Just reading and agreeing with that passage can be rejuvenating. As I have stated many times, the mind and things of the spirit are more connected than is considered.


Examples:


The details of this suggestion may look different for each person, but start and end your day with God. It matters how we begin and finish our days. This is not to say the in-between does not matter but to be refreshed by the Lord; there need be no distractions, which can be difficult during the peak of our day.


The brain is an organ like the heart, kidney, and muscles. The more we exercise and supply it with the proper nourishments, the better our cognitive health, function, and vitality will be.


Which examples do you practice? Are there some suggestions you would like to share? Leave a comment below. It could help a fellow leader.


Want to read more about topics like this? Check out our blog or listen to our Good Day Leader podcast, where leaders sharpen leaders.


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