Our basic premise is: Your body is amazing. You get a do-over; it doesn’t take that long, and isn’t
that hard if you know what to do.
In these columns, we give you a short course in what to do. We want you to know how much control you have over your quality
and length of life. In the last few issues, we concluded the most important tips to staying young are:
Start with walking; recruit a buddy and call daily.
Learn how to make YOU-turns when you don’t meet your goals.
Aim lower: Know your blood pressure numbers and get them to 115/75, whatever it takes.
Food is not Let’s Make a Deal. Choose cancer-fighting foods like broccoli, walnuts and whole grains, and add brain
food like coffee, turmeric and blueberries.
Get rest that rejuvenates.
Detoxify your environment for spring.
You don’t have to be an M.D. to know stress can cause headaches, sleep and appetite problems, and psychological problems
such as depression and anxiety. And that’s not even considering that work stress has been linked to gastrointestinal,
hormonal and immune problems, an increased risk of metabolic syndrome (that’s obesity at your waist, high blood pressure,
high bad cholesterol and low healthy cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, and high blood sugar), as well as a sixfold
higher risk of having a heart attack. Double yikes.
Here’s how it works in your body: You have a stress circuit that loops between your nervous system and your stress
hormones called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When you’re faced with a major stressor, the hypothalamus
releases a hormone called CRH, which then causes your pituitary gland to release another hormone called ACTH into your bloodstream.
That’s the hormone that signals your adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn gets your
adrenaline cranked up.
All of this is fine and good for a while (the increased heart rate and blood pressure from all that adrenaline get you away
from any predator), but if the stress doesn’t stop, this flood of chemicals turns against you—compromising your
immune system, exhausting your adrenal glands, throwing your cholesterol levels out of whack, and causing you to crave sugar
and syrups that age you. And your prefrontal cortex, which, if you had listened to it, would have prevented you from getting
into the problem in the first place, is bypassed. And guess what? Chronic stresses like work has real potential for pummeling
So what can you do about it? Here are a couple tips for this mind and body matter:
Shift to Energy Management. You know what we hear all the time from people who feel more overworked than
a Buffalo snowplow driver? “I have no time.” No time to think, no time to work, no time to tell people I have
no time. So what everyone thinks they have is a time management problem. They’re overburdened and undermanned.
You know what we think? It actually has little to do with time at all. Our problem is more of an energy management problem.
If we feel energized, excited, jazzed, and ready to rock at work, time management is no longer an issue. And you get to a
somewhat cosmic point (like “the zone” for athletes) where you’re managing time efficiently and smartly.
You can’t wait to get to work, and you enjoy going home as well. So, really, your goal maybe shouldn’t be to delegate
more or take on less; it should be to manage your health so that you feel as energized as a caffeinated puppy without having
to rely on artificial and temporary means to do so.
Find a Buddy. The best way to enjoy your job more: Have a buddy or best friend at work. A good buddy will
help keep your blood pressure lower and the pounds off, but it has to be one with whom you share similar goals (if you choose
an overweight buddy, you’ll be more likely to adopt those habits that will also make you overweight). Having a friend
will help you be more productive at work, too (which will also lower stress). The Gallup organization has found we’re
more productive and don’t miss as much work when we have a buddy or best friend at the office. Why? Maybe we feel that
obligation, that accountability to the buddy—and we enjoy our work more.