Dr Tara Swart is a neuroscientist and leadership coach with a unique brain health angle on what it takes to be a better leader and achieve success.
Her aim is to teach people why optimal brain functionality is important in a leader. Explaining that it strengthens your decision-making and improves your performance at work. She says that improving the quality of your lifestyle can help you to enhance your leadership abilities and excel in your field.
“Poor sleep, lack of exercise, stress and poor nutrition can all contribute to poor mental function. This reduces your ability to perform at work and present good leadership qualities.”
What Brain Health Habits Make For Better Leadership?
Dr Tara Swart breaks down the key aspects to a healthy lifestyle that supports good leadership:
1. Good Sleep
“98-99% of brains need to sleep for 7-9 hours per night, as this allows the lymphatic system to be cleansed of neurotoxins,” she explains. “Sleep is a forcible flushing of neurotoxins, this is important as overtime, a build up can cause neurological disorders. Poor sleep can also result in fatigue and make it more difficult to manage ones emotions.”
A good night’s rest resets the brain and allows you approach your day with a sharp, clear mind.
2. The Correct Nutrition
“If you are under stress, eat every two hours for optimal brain health. Your brain can’t store glucose and so it is important to keep replenishing your stores,” Dr Swart explains. This will help you to maintain your focus and ensures a productivity boost. It also ensures that your brain is well fed for any of the decisions it may need to make.
She adds that if you have the space to develop your mental resilience, then it can be useful to practice intermittent fasting as it teaches your brain that you can manage small amounts of physical stress, because you are in control of your recovery.
She adds, “You should also avoid eating too close to bedtime as this disrupts sleep.”
Dr Swart suggests a diet high in salmon, avocado, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. Preferably it should contain reduced amounts of smoked foods, red meats, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods. It’s also crucial to stay hydrated.
3. Regular Exercise
“I recommend 10 000 steps a day and 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week,” she shares. “
“It’s important to engage in aerobic exercise as this assists in oxygenating the brain, which is vital for healthy functionality. It is also important to participate in activities that require different levels of co-ordination, such as Ping-Pong, and that include a social element,” she explains.
Exercise also boosts your energy levels and your mood. Allowing you to be more positive and develop the stamina it takes to get more done.
4. Stress Less
“Stress is a physical or psychological load that is too much for your body to bear,” Dr Swart explains. It results in high levels of cortisol and affects your quality of thinking and your ability to regulate emotions.”
She adds that high cortisol levels erode your immunity, which makes you more susceptible to illness and can result in time off work. They also have a negative impact on sleep, which results in neurotoxic build-up. This causes death in the nerve cells in the brain. Mindfulness practice is very helpful in reducing cortisol levels.
5. Improved Neuroplasticity
“Learning something new in adulthood, such as another language or a musical instrument, improves your neuroplasticity which has been shown to prevent the onset of neurological disease and keep your brain sharp. This improves your focus and decision making ability.”
Another good reason to never stop learning.
Watch Dr Tara Swart talk about technology and the future of the human brain.
Would you like to learn more about brain health and leadership?
Business Results Group will once again be hosting London based Dr. Tara Swart, in Johannesburg South Africa. She is a prolific author, leadership coach and highly acclaimed thought leader in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Tara Swart is also at the forefront of the application of neuroscience to business. You can learn more about her one-day-only event on the 25th of May, or book your seat here. She will be sharing key insights and techniques from brain research and psychology that can improve individual leadership performance, as well as that of your team and organisation.