Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Putting the Mind-Body Connection to Work: 4 Steps to Optimal Health
Success is defined in many ways, but most of us would agree that good health is a goal worth pursuing. No matter what our limitations, the choices we make each day have a profound impact on our vitality, our productivity, and on the way our co-workers and clients perceive us.
Step One: Meals Matter
It’s so easy to just dash through the drive-in and bolt down a burger and fries as you careen madly through town on the way to your next appointment. Easy, yes, but not very smart. Show some respect for yourself by putting the same care into feeding you body as you do cultivating a valued client. Choose high quality, lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These foods provide a continual source of energy through the day, keeping your mind and body alert and energized.
Step Two: Energize with Exercise
It can be hard to get motivated to exercise after a long and challenging day, but a good work-out will pay off in many ways. You will look and feel fitter and more energetic, inspiring greater confidence in your clients and colleagues. What’s more, a well-conditioned heart can handle stressful situations much more effectively than one that spends its evenings hunkered down in front of the TV. People who exercise also experience deeper, more restorative sleep, so they are better able to face the challenges of the day. And many people find that they are able to work though their mental challenges while exercising, often coming up with unexpected solutions to difficult problems.
Step Three: Make Your Habits Work for You
A cup of coffee or tea in the morning, a glass of wine at night—these are small indulgences that may give us a little time to sit and reflect. Often they are part of a meal or a meeting we share with business associates. When enjoyed in moderation, these habits are associated with a lower risk for heart problems and neurological disease, but when taken to excess, they can be harmful, especially in the case of alcohol. Men can drink 1-2 drinks, while women should stop at one to avoid negative health consequences. One habit with no redeeming value is smoking. Tobacco is a major cause of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Smokers are often perceived to be less in control and less reliable, and exposing someone to second-hand smoke is a major breach of etiquette, as well as a health hazard.
Step Four: Take Charge of Your Stress
Stress is part of life, but how we deal with it is up to us. What it all boils down to is control. When a situation feels out of our control, our heart may race, our blood pressure may rise, our sleep may be restless, and our thought processes may become less organized. Break your tasks down into smaller pieces, and find the aspects of your job that you can control. By maximizing your efficiency and optimizing your skills, you will begin to feel less panicked and frustrated, and you will gain more power over the difficult issues that confront you each day.
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