Introduction; Do One Thing; Your Mission; Caffeine Intake and Sleep Deprivation

Juggling a demanding career and taking proper care of your health can be a real challenge. I have been in situations in my life where starting and running a fledgling business and staying fit and healthy has felt like an uphill battle. Often, this was down to a combination of reasons and not just a single thing I needed to fix.

In my new book, I talk about the early years when I had just started my new business. I am lucky enough to have some great support around me now but in those early days, I was doing everything: I was the personal trainer and the owner; I was also the accountant and the tea boy!!

It wasn’t easy and I felt my health suffer with each ‘all nighter’ I pulled trying to keep all the plates spinning.

The good news is there *are* ways to fix this overwhelming situation. How? Set out below are a number of common problems people have when their job is getting the better of them and their bodies (some of which they may not already be aware of).

The secret to making progress? Do one thing.

At the end of each heading below is a micro action-item that can be completed in under an hour that will improve your health while holding down a busy job or running a business.

I appreciate more than most people that these problems are not easy fixes and can take a very long time; the key is to start small with concrete actions that move you along the curve towards progress. Do one thing in each area and things will improve.

Your Mission

Define your personal mission

This sounds like a grand topic but I’ve met hundreds of lawyers, bankers, accountants and other professionals who can no longer, hand on heart, say they enjoy what they are doing. They’ve lost the passion for their careers that they once had. They drag themselves into the office each day and just seem to have lost their purpose.

The emotional impact of this is not to be underestimated. If you’re doing something you’re not suited to, or is at odds with your personality, you’ll feel like everyday is an uphill struggle. The result? Stress and frustration.

My strong recommendation is to write a list of everything you love doing (in career terms!) and everything you dislike doing. If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like and have the flexibility to move, find something that will involve more of the things you love.

If for whatever reason you are bound to your current employer, there are usually ways you can tweak your job to do more of what you love and delegate more of what you don’t. It’s all about pinpointing the source of your stress and frustration (see the action item below) by writing things down.

Do One Thing Action Item

Write a list of things you love doing in your career and a list of things you loathe – writing things down helps enormously and will help you delegate or distance yourself from the things you really dislike doing – a major source of stress. If you’re considering a career move, take a side of paper and in one column write down all the benefits of staying in that role and all the benefits of leaving the role – this will really help in making an informed decision.

Caffeine

Legend has it that London was built on cups of tea. The performance enhancing effects of caffeine are no secret. I personally love a cup of coffee to start the day and I’m sure you’ve read plenty of press articles promoting coffee as a cancer fighting miracle.

Coffee is a great performance enhancing drug but don’t overdo it

However, a number of people that I have met in demanding roles have far too much caffeine which sends their cortisol/stress levels spiralling out of control. The corporate world is on a constant drip feed of caffeine and, if you abuse it, caffeine can lead to some very undesirable side effects for your body.

Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. Your body produces a certain amount of this naturally, according to its natural rhythm but caffeine gives you an extra spike and provides energy and alertness. If you have too much, though, you’ll crash. In the long term this will lead to burnout, throwing your hormones off balance and making you store unwanted body fat. Not good.

Do One Thing Action Item

Impose a total ban on caffeine in all its forms  past 2p.m. each day to help you sleep. Ideally limit yourself to two shots of espresso at 10am (your body naturally spikes cortisol first thing in the morning, so it makes more sense to have your cup of coffee after those levels have settled down in the morning).

Sleep and Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is vital to your all round health and ability to perform at work

Sleep is critical. It is well known that If you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t have time to repair and recover – this will make you fat, among many other health problems. If you work in the corporate world it can be incredibly difficult to get enough sleep. One of the the first places to look if you are feeling run down is sleep deprivation.

Did you know that this is the primary time when your body produces key hormones that keep you in shape? If you’re a man that skips proper sleep, your testosterone production will be diminished (responsible for creating muscle mass and giving you a lean physique). If you’re a woman, sleep deprivation can play havoc with your monthly cycle and disturb your hormonal balance. Add chronic stress to that equation and you’ll never be able to lose that body fat.

Do One Thing Action Item

this is a tricky one (particularly if you have kids where sleep is a previous commodity). A key mindset to have if you can’t sleep is not to try and ‘force yourself to sleep’ – just accept your situation and let you mind wander. Worrying about not sleeping is a stressor is itself!

If you have cut down on your caffeine intake, and followed the other steps in this article, your insomnia should improve. There are a host of other reasons for insomnia such as nutritional deficiencies (such as low magnesium and zinc) which need to be diagnosed by a doctor with a blood panel.

Once you’ve taken the bitesized item actions above in week one, you can move on to my Do One Thing advice to limiting your sugar intake, moderating alcohol, addressing nutritional deficiencies and improving gut health. That’s all to come in Part 2.

Often, the above issues are interconnected and take time to get right. It’s important to move yourself further along the curve towards success rather than attempt to solve everything at once. Some problems may be unsolvable (for example if you’re the breadwinner in your family). That is why I recommend bite sized actions for you to take. A little incremental progress will go a long way.

If you have any questions please leave them below and I will answer them.

Check out Part 2 of this article here.

Don’t work too hard.  🙂

Cheers,

David