Just as our bodies can feel sick and weak as a result of poor lifestyle habits, our minds can get foggy, negative, and sluggish from overwork, media overload, and workplace stress. When that happens, the mind needs to detox. – Jason Selk

In a conversation with Careerbright, Jason Selk, a mental performance trainer for the world’s finest athletes, coaches, and business leaders, says mental detoxing is necessary for optimal performance, whether one is a pro athlete or an office worker. It is important to recharge and replenish our mental function to prevent burnout, negativity, and underperformance.


Q. How do you define mental detox? How can it help in calming the mind and body?

Mental detox is the process of allowing your mind to stop focusing on damaging negative and stressful thoughts by replacing them with positive, solution-oriented thoughts and behaviors. Learning to control our thoughts has a direct influence on our behaviors and feelings. In short, when we think the right thoughts, we will behave in a more productive and energized manner, and we will feel happier and healthier.


Q. Be it top management or an average employee, the stress levels at work are at an all time high. What simple techniques could help us be more productive and less-stressed at work?

Exercise and Organize

The two most effective short-term strategies for mental detox are to exercise and organize.

Exercise. I tell all my clients to commit to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a minimum of three times per week. Anything above that level will only bring added benefit and mental clarity. If you consider yourself to have a considerably high level of stress, shoot for six days per week. Physical exercise is an effective way to clear the mind and lower stress. Prioritize your half-hour workouts, even if this means cutting something else out of your day. My clients report that committing to at least 30 minutes of cardio three times per week makes them more effective for the rest of the day. I guarantee that the productivity and energy exercise brings far outweighs the loss of a half hour from your day. Take out your calendar and schedule the time you will commit to exercise every week.

Organize. Another effective strategy for short-term mental detox is to organize the day before the day. Commit to waking up 30 minutes earlier than you are used to identify the top 3 to-do’s necessary for the day and to complete a mental workout.
This 30-minute preparation period can also be a good time for meditation or daily prayer. With any extra time you may have in that 30 minutes after you have identified the top important tasks of the day and completed a mental workout, start attacking those to-do’s.

Identifying the Top 3 To-Do’s:
The most important tasks each day are also typically the tasks we fear, dread, and avoid most. On a daily basis, rally your energy and courage to tackle those daily goals that have the greatest influence on your performance and therefore success. Brian Tracy, a best-selling personal development author, calls the most important and most challenging tasks we need to complete daily our “big frog” tasks. Most people, he writes, choose to focus first on the unimportant tasks (the little frogs) and save the big frogs for last. The problem is that if the big frogs are at the bottom of your to-do list, you will have a psychological tendency to find ways to procrastinate so that you won’t have to face them. Saving the big frogs for last means that you will need the greatest courage and energy at the end of the day when you are most tired from spending countless hours completing tasks that may be urgent, but not that important. By eating the big frogs first, you create energy and momentum through your early accomplishment of something that has true impact.


Q. In addition of stress, there are many people who are fighting depression and a loss of self-esteem post-layoff. Can using the mental detox steps help them to overcome fear of failure and fight discouragement?

The next important aspect of mental detox, the Mental Workout, will help focus your thoughts on what you need to be successful and to remind yourself of what qualities you have that will allow you to be great.
Completing a Mental Workout:
The mental workout is a 5-step process that many of the world’s top athletes and business people credit with taking them to the next level of success. The mental workout is an incredibly powerful tool that will undoubtedly put you in a position to mentally detox and help you execute at a higher level more consistently. The great news is that it only takes 100 seconds of your day. Take some time now to develop your 100-second mental workout:

The 5 step mental workout:

Step 1: Centering Breath:
Take a deep centering breath to get calm and focused. This is a controlled breath where you breathe in for 6 seconds, hold for 2, and then exhale for 7 seconds. The Centering Breath will control your heart rate and allow your mind to work effectively.

Step 2: Identity Statement:
State who you are as if you’d already achieved your goal. This is essentially a personal mantra that reflects who you are and what you hope to achieve. An example of an identity statement is “I am confident and I thrive on pressure, I am the most focused and successful CEO in the country.”

Step 3: Personal Highlight Reel:
Play a mental video of what your life is like as if you’d accomplished your goal. The Personal highlight reel is 60 seconds worth of visualization in which you spend 30 seconds remembering 3 things done well in the previous 24 hours and then imagining 3 things you are going to do well in the upcoming day.

Step 4: Identity Statement:
Repeat to yourself again your identity statement further driving home your self-image of success.

Step 5: Centering Breath:
Take another centering breath to remind yourself of the feeling of being calm and in control.

By making mental workouts a habit, you will set yourself on a trajectory toward developing mental toughness, focus, and clarity as you have never experienced. Just as your body responds to consistent strength training, your mind responds to regular mental workouts. Try to take the 1 minute and 40 seconds each day to develop your mental strength. If you should miss a day here or there, don’t panic. One missed appointment with your physical trainer won’t sink your overall physical fitness, and the occasional missed mental workout won’t kill your progression to success. If you do miss a day, simply make the commitment to get back on track the following day.


Jason Selk About Jason Selk:
Dr. Jason Selk is the bestselling author of 10-Minute Toughness (McGraw-Hill, 2008) and Executive Toughness (McGraw-Hill, 2011), and a mental performance trainer for the world’s finest athletes, coaches, and business leaders.
He’s a regular television and radio contributor to ABC, CBS, ESPN, and NBC, and has appeared widely in print.
Learn more at http://www.enhancedperformanceinc.com/.