Tips for CEOs: Mental Health Success for High Performing Individuals

What’s up everyone, Nick, DeAngelo here with Saint investment group.

Today let’s talk about a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart, and I hope is near and dear to yours. Let’s talk mental health! Especially when you have a demanding career and responsibilities swirling around.

First things first: SLEEP is the ultimate foundation. It is the 100% ultimate foundation. Nothing comes before sleep. You know why? Because this is your ability to recharge what your body needs to operate at the highest level. It’s getting to bed, being able to get to sleep, staying asleep, the quality of sleep and the duration. Those are the highest level notes of sleeping. Also, you MUST try to avoid blue light before you go to bed. So that means your phone and other things that are not beneficial to you because your eyes will pick up the blue light, which means daytime, which means staying awake when you want to be asleep. So get rid of Blue light!

Next is carving out the time to get enough sleep. That means enough hours of sleep! Most people have an idea of how many hours that is for them. Some people, it might be six or seven. Other people, it might be eight or nine. I am 100% without question on the eight or nine (I mean maybe more!). And I give zero apologies for that. Zero apologies because it’s that important. If you’re trying to perform at a high level, sleep is even more important. The old adage or the old like hustle wisdom of “if you are not willing to skip your sleep in order to achieve your goals, then they’re not important”…. No, no, no, no pure nonsense. There’s no one that understands this more than high powered CEOs that are going through super demanding schedules and have to work through very difficult, complex situations.

Why? Because their days are very rarely them going around with the fire hose and putting out one fire after another. The highest level at big, big, big companies, the highest level in those companies, they’re not spending the majority of the day putting out fires, they’re spending the day making giant decisions. So you’ll hear very large CEOs talk about that. They only make maybe a handful of decisions a day. Bezos is one example that’s talked about this. Elon has alluded to this and discussed this at different times. So if they’re only making several decisions in a day, those need to be fantastic decisions. Fantastic like near perfect decisions. The margin for error is very slim because they have thousands of employees and millions or billions of dollars behind them, and stockholders, shareholders, et cetera.

So sleep is important. You need it to be at your absolute best during your day. In addition, there are a couple things, little hacks that have worked for me personally, that I can recommend to you that may help you. The first is meditation. Meditation is fantastic. Overall it helps many things, but it’s really a win-win. You know, I hear a lot of people talk about things like “when I try to meditate, sometimes I get tired and want to fall asleep”. Okay. Then do it in bed. Then if you fall asleep, it’s a win-win! The flip side of that is if you have things like intrusive thoughts or you have stressful thoughts, what responsibilities you didn’t get to, the ongoing checklist, kind of the carousel of the weight that comes along with high pressured positions, right?

Meditation is an absolute must for this. It removes those thoughts, calming your mind, letting the dust settle so that you can see through the water. You can make the mental waters of your mind crystal clear, allowing that piece to settle into a much deeper and much quicker sleep.

I found the last piece of feedback I’ll give you on sleep is an amino acid called glycine. I don’t take melatonin. Do the research on that. Melatonin actually has a lot of considerations that aren’t great for many people. I did not find it successful long term. And really, I don’t think you’re supposed to take it long term. If you do the research on glycine, it has been fantastic. It’s an amino acid that’s abundant in things like bone broth. It lowers the body temperature. It calms you down and helps you get to sleep faster.It has been great for me. I’ve really, really, really, really used it many times to great effect.

The next major point to talk about as far as mental health goes in a high pressure career is taking time away from your phone, making sure that you have distance and boundaries for a no phone zone. This isn’t just a room of your home, although it can be. And I think that’s great. And we do that oftentimes with our bedroom. But it can also be a timeframe of your day or a portion of your routine. So whether that’s in the morning, if you need that time to center yourself or that’s before bed, you want to make sure your phone is very far away from you so that you don’t don’t have the blue light and you don’t have the other things that go on with your phone.

Think about your social media. Social media alone can be a negative thought loop before bed. You think about things like comparisons, things like what a family member might be doing that you’re thinking about. Things like just mainstream news! The last thing you need is a bunch of stressful news right before you’re going to bed. So keeping your phone away and keeping social media specifically away is very beneficial for those reasons loan. If you look at your phone usage, how many hours a day that you use your phone, usually it’s shocking, right? It’s like, cuz you still have to eat. You still gotta drive. You still gotta, you know, talk to people, do your job. You have to do all those other things. So how many hours a day, if you’re using your phone for 10 hours, that means all the other things are packed into a small window.

It’s actually pretty remarkable to think about how much people use their phone. So the more you can put distance and space between that, and allow yourself to have some calm and some room with your own mind, you’ll work through some of the bigger things rather than giving yourself that loop of consumption from your phone.

The next item is DIET. It might not sound like diet is important for mental health, but I can tell you that that is one of the most important and absolutely makes this list all day long. Why? Because there are so many things that if you put them into your body, it will affect your mind and your performance throughout the day. Here are a few: processed foods, coloring & dyes, heavy meals in the middle of a day. These are things that are gonna slow your brain down from operating at the most optimal levels.

At least in my life, I notice a HUGE difference if I’m eating healthy versus eating crap during my day. Some of this is DAYS in advance. If I eat like crap all weekend and then I come in on Monday and even if I’m eating healthy on Monday, I’m probably not operating at my best. Overall healthier food choices enhance the clarity of your mind and give you pure, clean, focused energy, which, if you’re operating at a high level, is absolutely essential. Nothing beats that.

The last item I would add on diet is for me personally, it’s not drinking.  The majority of the time, I probably cut back 99% on drinking. And when I do drink rarely, it’s significantly limited for me. I notice negative effects days and days later. it’s not like “I have a hangover” And then that hangover is just like gone the next day. No, no, no.

For me, I notice days of sluggish, less sharp behavior. I exercise daily. So I notice it for multiple days in the gym that I just have less energy, less oomph, and less focus. So for me, alcohol is just really not a good fit. I have kids, I run multiple companies, and I know exactly  what I want out of life. I don’t really want to look back and be like “Nic” was a good drinker, right?” I want to be known for the things I achieved, the legacy I leave behind, and the people I can impact in a positive way. So drinking really didn’t make my list. For diet it’s one of the first things I cut out and have noticed one of the most massive returns on investment.

The next item: It’s taking time off when you need it. And that doesn’t mean shirking on your work or not getting the things done that people are requiring of you. But when you can and when you need it, you know it. Especially if you have decades or many years of operating a high at a high level, you know when you just need to unplug for a little while and refresh yourself. When you take that time off to recharge your batteries and clear your mind, what I think you’ll find is that you come back invigorated. You can’t wait to get back in the office and get back to what you’re working on. The things that were monotonous or annoying or difficult or emotionally charged with, you’ll step into those with a fresh set of legs and be able to run the marathon all along with that extra fresh mindset when you’ve taken the time off to recuperate in a healthy way.

Also under the category of taking time off, and I’ve already mentioned this, but meditation. If you add that into a regular practice, taking time off, even that’s five minute meditations during the day frequently, that can just reset your brain to being less reactive to the things that come up. This advice was given to me by a friend of mine who runs a large cell phone case company. He’s an individual that has probably the most remarkable upswing of his company’s exponential growth. So when he talks and he gives advice, I am one hundred percent laser focused. I hit this guy with questions all the time. And one of the things he told me was very simple. He said, “look, take even five minutes a couple times a day. If you’re in a tough situation and your mind is spinning, the importance of those decisions is so high if you have a lot of responsibility. So taking five minutes just to do breathwork or feel the tips of your fingers, or just feel your body in that moment without responding and absorbing everything around you.”  Absolute game changer. It’s like a mini vacation during the day in the office. So if you can’t get away and go to some beautiful destination, you can do that in your own mind, in your own body, in your own skin. If meditation for five minutes is not enough, let me give you a secret hack that I do very regularly: get outside. It’s getting the sun on your skin, getting fresh air to breathe in your lungs and to get a little bit of nature if you can. The more nature, the better.

But if you can just take a 10 minute walk during your work day and take a little break and just do that, you can come back and be fully refreshed. As a matter of fact, I did that before this post. Why? Because I was in the trenches and I wanted to clear my mind. I should have laser focus to be able to do this for you guys. At the end of the day, mental health equals mental wealth. If you want to run the marathon of success, if you want to be achieving at high levels, if you want to be operating with a ton of responsibility and a huge upswing and doing big things, your mind is infinitely important, infinitely important, and you need to take your mental health very, very, very seriously. So there’s things that you can do. These are things you give yourself to get back from your mind, the best that it can be.