She jumps out of bed, rushes to the bath, notices her belly and avoids the scales, dashes to the kitchen, no time for breakfast, out the door, grabs a coffee on her way to work, up the elevator, straight to her deck, no time for hello, too much to do.
Works through lunch to finish a project for her boss, 40 more emails, 25 calls, hunger pangs at 2:30, rushes to the food court to pick up a muffin and more coffee, sits glued to her computer, no feedback from anyone, no time to chat. She leaves at 6, dashes to pick up a pizza, then her son, lots of guilt, neck stiff, eyes burning, simmering anger. Makes dinner, nerves on edge, snaps at her love, goes to bed and weeps as she realizes that she gets to do it all over again tomorrow.
This is how we kill ourselves without really trying.
Here’s how to change things:
1. Face the fact that no amount of success in your professional life can make up for failure in your health. Make it your active purpose as Nathaniel Brandon says to put the health of your body and your mind first. Challenge yourself right in the middle of your busy day, everyday, to do even one thing specifically to protect your most important asset – your health
2. Write it on your heart and your computer screen that, happiness is not only relevant, it is crucial. You are on the planet to be happy. You are here to celebrate the universe and anything short of that is foolish. Happy people not only live longer but they accomplish more. Learn to summon the emotion of happiness right there at your desk and spread it around as much as possible. Get up and walk around and look for signs of happiness in others and when you see it, accentuate it. This will help to keep you healthy. Happiness is the antidote to stress.
3. Change your attitude towards food especially breakfast and lunch. Stress is intimately connected to the way you eat. When you wake up in the morning, your body temperature rises and your metabolic rate is enhanced ready to nourish your cells. If you over ride this cue and rush to work without breakfast, insulin will instruct the body to store visceral fat around the middle, which contains enzymes that can hasten your demise.
4. Beware of substituting coffee for breakfast. Coffee stimulates a rise in cortisol and insulin giving the stress reaction an added boost. Want to avoid job stress and keep your cool under fire? Eat like a princess in the morning keeping the carbohydrates low. This is a wonderful way to fight stress as you head off to work.
5. At about noon your metabolism is at peak efficiency, ready to pulverize food and give you a rich supply of nutrients. Don’t bypass this opportunity, or insulin and cortisol will get yet another opportunity to produce inflammatory diseases like cancer, heart disease, dementia and arthritis which can all be precipitated by job stress.
6. Know that stress does more than tense your muscles or spoil your mood. According to Cardiologist Robert Elliot stress can also break the myocardial fibrils of your heart. 34,000 healthy Japanese die every year from heart attacks because of job stress. The pity is that while you rush to work and grumble at your computer under pressure, it is not just your mind that is under attack but your immune system and your cardiovascular system rendering you a more suitable candidate for cancer and heart disease.
7. Accept the fact that you are vulnerable and practice this technique every time you are confronted by one of the tiny, mundane irritations at work. Remember Elephants don’t bite but little mosquitoes do. Here’s the technique that can improve your effectiveness and your life:
Tense your body while taking a huge deep breath through your nose. Hold the tension and the deep breath for a while, then relax. Let all the tension go and feel it draining out of your body. Then smile and let your arms and legs become heavy and warm. Finally remind yourself right there and then that happiness is crucial.
This simple exercise will reverse the stress response at your desk in 11 seconds and in so doing it can ward off inflammation and a host of diseases that are the constant accompaniment of a stressful life.