Most men know stress is bad for them, but they tend to believe it created by external thing – nagging board members, too much work, trying to make enough money to afford that private school for your kids...
So, if you deal with that external issue, you have managed your stress.
The truth is, the danger of stress does not stem from where it comes from, it is how it physically manifests itself in our body.
For a start stress releases adrenaline which increases our heart rate, elevates our blood pressure, tightens our muscles and quickens our breathe. The ‘stress hormone’ cortisol also floods our system increasing blood sugar levels and causing an increase in insulin. This chemical cocktail also affects dampens our immune system, digestive system, reproductive system and growth processes and alters our mood, motivation and fear levels.
On paper, the physical response to stress should dissipate quickly once the real or perceived threat is gone, but in this crazy modern world, most of us just exist in a constant state of low-level stress.
That means we don’t return to homeostasis, a calm place of regenerative healing, we remain fundamentally ‘altered’, both mentally and physically due to stress.
Do you ever feel like you are acting out of character? Are you irritated but don’t know why? Have you caught yourself snapping at the kids or finding a staff member’s attitude dis-proportionally annoying? That is your stressed-out brain and body distorting your world view.
Where things get worse is that overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones increases your risk of:
- Digestive problems
- Adrenal fatigue
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
So as a busy executive, what is the one thing you can do to reduce stress in your life without discarding suit and tie, pulling on some yoga pants and living on a mountain?
Fix your diet.
Sugary foods, processed carbohydrates, too much booze and caffeine all mimic the effects of stress in our body. They cause blood sugar levels to spike, release cortisol and insulin, increase inflammation and fluid retention and place our body in a state of chemically induced stress.
Who needs that?
I try to avoid cliche's, but if you have a stressful job AND a bad diet, you are adding rocket fuel to an already raging stress fire. Your baseline of low-level stress may graduate to a baseline of mid-level stress and that increases your exposer to all the associated health risks.
One thing is certain, if your body is already flooded with stress chemicals when a stressful event happens, you will handle it badly, or at least not as well as you might have. With 25% of your brain focused on fight or flight while a shareholder meeting goes bad, don’t be surprised if you lose your cool and then have to spend thousands on a PR agency trying to repair the damage.
Your professional performance and health WILL suffer under the effects of long-term stress and while you might be too busy for yoga classes or hitting the gym, you must eat.
The good news is that Just changing what you eat can reduce stress in your body so you manage external stressors better, lose weight, feel healthier and become generally nicer to be around.
Cut out the sugar, breads, pastries, and fried food. Eat vegetables or salad with some type of lean protein for lunch and dinner and plain unsweetened Greek yogurt with a bit of fruit for breakfast.
Don’t be surprised if after a few weeks you start to hear comments like ‘wow, you’re in a good mood today’, ‘I really like that idea you had at the meeting’, or ‘there’s something different about you, is that a new suit?’.
If you are stressed, people can tell. Once you reduce stress you appear both more confident and in control. In the corporate world where perceptions matter, that alone can be a game changer.
And that is above and beyond improving life expectancy, quality of life, mental clarity and concentration, energy levels, mood and health by a significant degree.
If you want that all that cooking just 8 meals a week with food you buy and amazing food, try Beyond your Belly.
It is a 3-week program the whole family can use and if you have more than around 8kgs to lose there are instructions on how to repeat it so you optimise weight loss and health. We have done the work so you just follow the instructions like an Ikea flat-pack.
Then you can focus on work and family without the stress. You need that, your colleagues and family need that and the world needs that!!