In this age, executive stress management is a common reality. We are paid to perform which often drives us to work long hours, skip lunch and exercise, and take frequent plane journeys causing jet lag. Our stress levels increase and we feel more out of sync. Sleep is often disrupted and our busy schedule causes us to eat less than ideally.
As humans, some of us are wired to be early risers while others are night owls. How is this so? This is because we operate on a 24-hour internal body clock called the circadian rhythm. It is also known as the sleep/wake cycle.
Ideally, it makes sense to tap into our specific body rhythm and eat, sleep and exercise according to when we as an individual, feel hungry, tired and energized. This is when we feel at our best. However, as a busy executive, life and work do not always permit this.
Today’s lifestyle of constantly using screens, phones and artificial light plays havoc with our natural body cycle. The result is that we can disrupt our sleep pattern and feel sluggish and over hungry during the day and tired yet wired at night.
Here Are 10 Tips To Support Your Natural Body Clock:
- Make sleep a priority – 8 hours is the sweet spot. Remember the old age about an hour before midnight being worth two after. It’s true!
- Be consistent – Go to bed at the same time and rise at the same time daily to get back into a natural rhythm.
- Cut out mobile phones, laptops, and iPads at least 1 hour before sleep and ban them from the bedroom. Use a regular old-fashioned alarm clock to wake and in time if you are getting enough sleep, your body should fall back into its natural cycle.
- Do not dive into emails, texts or social media first thing in the morning as this is likely to cause a fight or flight response in the body. Instead, ease into the day, establish a morning routine and try and take some ‘me’ time to set yourself up for the day ahead.
- Limit caffeine to earlier in the day and keep it to a maximum of 2 cups so that sleep is not affected.
- Get out early in the morning, between 6:00 am and 8.30am when the body clock has been found to be most receptive to the morning sun. This can be really helpful in resetting our circadian rhythm and healing sleep and enhancing longevity.
- Exercise daily, ideally for 30 minutes or more.
- Eat a healthy diet including lots of variety of greens, vegetables and healthy fats and proteins such as yoghurt, kefir, eggs, lentils, nuts, seeds, wild fish and grass-fed meat.
- The adrenals are the stress glands which can become burned out. Consider having an adrenal stress test to see if you have adrenal fatigue and your biochemistry is out.
- Flying and shift work messes with our internal body clock. Be extra mindful to take care of yourself if you travel for work or work shifts and discuss how you can support your health with your health professional.
Gemma O’Connell is an expert in helping busy executives overcome stress and burnout. If you are an executive that is concerned about your stress levels, check out our Stress Management Programme here