The financial crisis has challenged all of us as to to the next level. While busy entrepreneurs and corporate executives are constantly facing with accomplishing more with less, stretching their biological systems to the max, they are pushing their capacity even beyond manageable levels these days. Although we may be able to exert amazing levels of power, our physical systems may give in if confronted with ongoing challenges and without finding the right times to recover our energy. The four biological pillars that contribute to well-being are: nutrition, sleep, exercise, and relaxation. Maximizing your performance within each of these will enable you endure the ups and downs of dealing with personal and corporate challenges. I am often asked about a “magical” recipe for dealing with crisis situations. My biological strategy in the physical dimension is to maximize biology on a regular basis. This simple premise will assist you bounce back to a good, healthy lifestyle during challenging times.

Strategy #1: Maximize your Nutrition:
Good nutrition is a key pillar providing for our physical, mental, and emotional stamina. There are too many guidelines as to “what” to eat, but few to guide as to “how” to eat healthy. The bottom line is simple: implementing a healthy diet demands discipline and adhesion to a schedule. Balancing carbohydrates, fats, and protein is key and will depend upon each individual. As a rule of thumb, consider breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner, as the essential structure of a healthy diet. Considering an additional couple of healthy snacks may be plenty for the busy executive and entrepreneur, only if complemented with daily exercise. As a general rule, consider dividing the “awake” day in even intervals, say, four-hour intervals. Meal times ought to be included in your schedule, just as you would include a business meeting, or an appointment to hire a new employee. A thirty minute break if you can eat at your facility will suffice. Consider meal times as sacred: sit down and concentrate on your meal rather than eat while you are checking on your email or catching up with work. A ten minute break for a snack may suffice as well, using the same strategy. Eat with your family at home. Not only will this enhance your relationship with your loved ones, there is sufficient evidence showing that children who have dinner with the parents are smarter and do better in school.

Strategy #2: Maximize your Exercise:
Exercise is another essential component of our formula to stay healthy. Morning exercise is the most effective, relaxing, and energizing. Morning exercise will allow you to start off fresh, increase your blood flow, increase your metabolism and produce natural endorphins (neurotransmitters that make you feel good and decrease your pain perception). After exercising, your body may feel pleasantly relaxed physically, while mentally sharp, focused, and clear. Relaxing exercises tend to be the most repetitive (and boring) ones: walking, cycling, running, jogging, spinning, cross-country skiing and swimming. These are excellent exercises (and a must!) for busy executives and entrepreneurs who spend hours of sedentary work and for those who fly and travel as a part of their busy schedules. If you anticipate a more demanding work schedule, consider challenging yourself by increasing your strength. Weight lifting or increased resistance exercises will enable you to increase strength.

Strategy #3: Maximize your Sleep:
Sleep is the third pillar of the healthy physical dimension. Many minimize the benefits of sleep and the essential properties sleep brings to our ability to produce and perform at our top level. Additionally, researchers have found that sleep dysregulation and stress can increase the risk for depression and anxiety. These problems may also have direct influence over the immune system and increase the risk for heart disease. Stressed executives and business owners carry their worries and concerns to their sleep. As they can’t relax and re-energize throughout the course of the night, they wake up tired and exhausted, unable to focus, further prolonging the negative cycle. In short: they are stressed out during the course of the day and stressed out during the course of the night. In contrast, sleeping six to eight hours every night will enhance your physical, intellectual, and emotional stamina. Having a “good night sleep” will improve your ability to concentrate during the course of the day, gaining control over activities and responsibilities.

Strategy #4: Maximize your Relaxation:
Relaxation strategies compose the fourth pillar of the physical dimension. Sleep and exercise have a direct impact on enhancing a relaxed state. Additionally, guided imagery, visualization techniques, meditation, and listening to music are powerful tools against physical signs of stress. These strategies include the ability to create a state of calm at the start of the day and the opportunity to anticipate activities or events with the opportunity to resolve situations throughout the day. Practicing relaxation techniques on a regular basis adds to the strategic armamentarium of the traveling executive, providing beneficial lasting effects in brain activity and the immune system. You may want to maximize the use of relaxation techniques in the morning, throughout the course of the day, as needed, and in the evening. Taking a few minutes throughout the course of the day may help some. Others benefit more from taking a couple of periods throughout the day. Times for relaxation range from five minutes twice a day to thirty minutes once to more times throughout the course of the day. Winding down toward the evening will enable you to sleep better at night as well. Listen to music or book audiotapes daily while you drive; meditate or use guided imagery exercises daily when you wake up, during breaks, at night, or while you travel (and are not driving). Although there are numerous relaxation techniques that you may want to practice, the most common induction techniques usually begin with deep breathing exercises. Progressive relaxation and guided imagery techniques share a common general outline. The more you practice, the deeper state of relaxation you will achieve.

Strategy #5: Be in the Here and Now:
It is vital to concentrate on each activity, one at a time, at the present moment, rather than driving in the car, listening to music, answering to business calls on the cellular phone while writing on a pad, eating a sandwich and punching in numbers to a PDA, all while driving! In essence, the trick is to “be in the here and now,” and nowhere else. My experience in the wide spectrum of scenarios along wellness and disease has guided me to understand that it is those people who can be “busy on the outside, calm on the inside” who can truly create an integrated state of well-being.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Gaby Cora works with people and companies that want to be healthy while they become wealthy. She's a wellness coach, keynote speaker, medical doctor with a master’s in business administration, corporate consultant, spouse and mother of two young adults. Dr. Cora is the author of The Power of Wellbeing® Series: Leading under Pressure®, Managing Work in Life®, and Quantum Wellbeing. She’s president of The Executive Health & Wealth Institute.

Website Directory for Life Work Balance
Articles on Life Work Balance
Products for Life Work Balance
Discussion Board
Gabriela Cora, The Official Guide to Life Work Balance