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Our physical and mental health can be our greatest asset or our greatest obstacle when it comes to excelling in business.
Persistent health issues, whether it’s recurring headaches, digestive symptoms, fatigue, insomnia, or mood issues, can sneakily affect how we present ourselves in our business. We can miss opportunities for networking or socializing, do the bare minimum to get by, or forget important details (I say this because I have experienced it). To add insult to injury, humans are adaptive creatures by nature. We will adapt to just about anything, including symptoms. Working with clients with chronic conditions on a daily basis, I often hear statements such as, overall, I feel really healthy, even though I’m in pain 24/7. Or, he It’s normal for me to only have a bowel movement twice a week. And my favorite, I’m a zombie until I’ve had my coffee in the morning. Entrepreneurs are driven and motivated by definition. This increases the tendency to overlook or ignore symptoms or the impact they may have on their activities. Awareness is the first step. Fortunately, health can be optimized and become your power partner by making a few simple nutrition and lifestyle changes.
According to the Institute of Functional Medicine, functional medicine “determines how and why disease occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.” For more information on the root causes, see my article Inflammation: friend or foe. Essentially, root causes are environmental factors that cause symptoms and health problems. Improving them leads to improved long-term health rather than just putting a band-aid on the symptoms. Functional medicine is also founded on the concept that health is not simply the absence of disease, but rather the flourishing of mind, body, and soul. According to these principles, the keys to prosperity are prevention, early detection and the use of the root cause approach to combat existing health problems.
Related: 8 Ways to Foster an Employee Wellness Environment
Any auto mechanic will tell you that regularly servicing your car will ensure that it will perform well for over 100,000 miles. The human body is the same way. First, look at things in your immediate environment, such as food, stress levels, relationships, meaning and purpose in life, sleep, and exercise. The goal here is to create an environment that makes it difficult for disease to occur. The disease can manifest when one of them is not aligned. It’s about intentionally prioritizing your health and being a proactive player in your life and taking care of your body. Although this formula is a little different for each person, the factors listed below describe a general framework. For some people, this process will be intuitive. For others, overcoming challenges (in life or in health) can set them on this path to prioritizing their health and well-being. And still for others, receiving professional advice ensures that they commit to what is best for them. body and not simply act on generalities. The best part is that it’s never too late to start. Self-care and prevention is one of the most empowering things we can do for ourselves and our business.
In addition, prevention also means making adjustments. What does your blood test look like? What about hormones? Do you have any genetic predispositions? Evidence shows that markers of some diagnosable conditions can be measured years before symptoms appear. This study shows that the mechanisms underlying autoimmune diseases (determined by the presence of antibodies programmed to attack healthy tissue) can be active for years. Sometimes it takes decades before the person shows symptoms or warrants further investigation. Work with a healthcare professional and perform lab work regularly (once a year is sufficient for preventive purposes). This will provide a useful baseline for comparison and ensure that nothing is simmering below the surface. And if so, it can be caught early before it becomes clinical.
For a more personalized approach, functional medicine practitioners often use more specialized forms of laboratory testing. These are based on your unique needs and goals. The intent is not only to uncover the potential root cause(s) of any lingering health issues, but also to reveal areas that offer opportunity for fine-tuned optimization. For example, a food sensitivity test may expose foods in your diet that cause inflammation. An organic acid test examines nutritional and metabolic patterns that can affect cognition, energy, sleep, and general well-being.
Related: Why Your Health Is Key To Your Business Success
Prevention in action
The following provides a solid framework of lifestyle factors to optimize when working to achieve optimal health and prevent disease:
- Nutrition: Organic, whole, minimally processed, low sugar, anti-inflammatory. Eat an abundance of brightly colored vegetables and wild animal products. Plus, healthy fats like avocado, olive, and coconut oil provide all the raw materials for optimal functioning. Conversely, processed foods loaded with industrial oils and sugar can contribute to inflammation and metabolic disruptions that rob your body of energy. Check out the Whole 30, Mediterranean, and Paleo diets for more specific information.
- Manage stress: About 75% of all doctor visits are stress-related. Engage in relaxing hobbies, long walks, yoga, meditation, and exercise. These have been shown to lower cortisol levels and boost serotonin, our calming and soothing brain chemical. One of the best methods for increasing stress resilience is biofeedback training with heart rate variability. I talked about it in one of my previous articles.
- How long do you sleep? : Contrary to the belief of many, no one can function optimally for an extended period of time with 5-6 hours of sleep (re: adaptation). The brain is actually more active during sleep than during waking hours, orchestrating many aspects of healing and repair. Getting seven to nine healthy, restful hours ensures that these processes are complete and you’re running on rest and recovery rather than stress hormones.
- What does your exercise routine look like? : It is not necessary to exercise at the gym. It can be literally any sustained movement you enjoy – dancing, swimming, yoga, running, skating, biking, skiing. The goal is to engage in regular, sustained movement most days of the week.
- How connected are you to your friends and loved ones? : It is enormous. Isolation or feeling a lack of love, connection and community. These affect our physiology as much as an infection or anything we can actually measure, if not more. In fact, studies show that people with terminal cancer who have a close support system actually live longer than those who don’t. Humans are beasts of burden. Seeing and talking to friends and loved ones regularly is as necessary to our well-being as food and water.
- Do you feel like you are honoring your calling, your sense of purpose? : It is everyone’s dream that their hobby is their career. For some people, this is reality. Although I recognize that this will not be the case for everyone. Nonetheless, actively engaging in your passion – whether it’s traveling, raising ferrets, knitting, cooking, weaving baskets – is like food for your soul. To lack a sense of purpose, or even worse, to feel a sense of purpose but stifle it, slowly poisons the soul. Even if it’s only a few hours a week, following and honoring your passion brings a deep sense of joy and gratitude. Two emotions that literally alter our gene expression to favor that of health rather than dysfunction.
It might seem like another thing on your to-do list for cooking a healthy meal or making time for exercise. But health is really an investment with compounding returns. Also, being healthy does not mean being perfect. It’s about connecting to what your optimal health feels like. Not settling and being in tune with your body to know what to do to maintain that state most of the time. It’s about harnessing the power of your physical and mental health so that it works for you rather than against you. If you’re reading this article, you’re already a go-getter. With lifestyle routines and a dedication to self-care, you’ll be unstoppable.
On the same subject: Already stressed in 2022? These 3 body-based solutions can help short-circuit your anxiety.