In an ideal world, we would spend eight hours of our day at work, another eight in recreational activities and the last eight hours asleep. The true question is how many of us live in the ideal world?

Instead, in the real world, most corporate warriors, executives and entrepreneurs work twelve to sixteen hours every day with little recreational time and less sleep. Forget about taking any vacation during the financial crisis – it is not only unthinkable in your own mind but a serious offense in the eyes of others. People worry about keeping their companies afloat, with the emotional toll of lay-offs, foreclosures and downsizing.

While many are trying their best to hold on to their wealth by doing the work of two or three people these days, working 24/7 is counterproductive to high performance and productivity. Even athletes know that their performance will be hurt if they train too hard or work out too long. Many people are working so intensely and with so much pressure that stress is taking a toll on their health. Many don’t seek for help until they experience medical problems such as anxiety attacks, depression, headaches, increased blood pressure or gastrointestinal problems. Although stress does not cause these medical problems, it serves as a trigger in vulnerable systems that become exhausted and weak.

How many of you thought the crisis was initially small and contained and wouldn’t affect you? You then realized it was spreading more and more and then you came to see that this situation was directly affecting your friends, your family and your own life. Although many people talk about financial strategies to resolve this economic crisis, the largest toll is mostly psychological. I believe there are two distinctive characteristics of stress during this economic turmoil: it continues to increase and it is unremitting. Look at our past presidents’ pictures before and after they complete their terms: they look older. Skin is our largest body system and it reflects the aging process. Our other organ systems also age, we just can’t see it with such clarity.

What does this have to do with our ability to produce wealth?

When we exhaust our bodies and our minds, instead of coming up with creative ideas and the energy to bring those ideas into action, we instead deflate, out of stamina, unable to think of positive ways to resolve our challenges. Instead of producing more and increasing our earnings, we get bogged down by the problems and struggle to find alternative options for a positive resolution.

Tips to maximize your health while building your wealth:

1) Think of effective hours of work rather than the number of hours of work: You may believe that you are the only one who can do everything that you do, but keep track of your activities. You will be surprised when you realize how you distribute – or waste - your time. Common traps include the constant use of email, Blackberries, PDAs or phones to answer unnecessary messages. Instead, allocate time to respond to emails, attend networking events or even visit social networking sites during the day. Take notice of the time you spend doing these activities. Overdoing any of these will take you away from spending productive time at work or meaningful time at home.

2) Set up clear priorities: Make sure that you achieve what is high on your to-do list and that you discard anything with low priority. It’s time to let go. If you claim that everything is an emergency you will fall in the trap of responding to fires all the time rather than creating focused ways to increase your wealth. Although it may be tempting to do other things, allow yourself to work on what is truly necessary, and once this work has been completed work on the less important tasks.

3) Have a Plan: Most people don’t have a plan and many who do leave it in the drawer without checking their progress. By having a plan, you can follow your progress and decide whether you are achieving your desired goals. Without a plan, you will end up busy and exhausted and will continue to have more of busyness and exhaustion. Some things to consider: create deadlines for projects, focus on tasks that follow your plan and help you get closer to your ultimate destination, and check your plan often to make sure you are working smart, not working for the sake of being busy. If you have never created a plan, this is a great time to start.

4) Cut down your working hours from 16 to 12 or from 12 to 10: What would you do if you were forced to work fewer hours and be more efficient with your time? Unfortunately, many feel pressured to do this after they have become too sick to work because of a heart attack scare or challenging life event when their spouse leaves them for good. By creating a sense of urgency before these things happen, you can force yourself to become more focused, more effective, more efficient, and more productive.

5) Find effective ways to maximize The Four Pillars of Health: nutrition, exercise, sleep and relaxation. Whether you own your own business, you work in a large organization or in a small business, most people are leading under pressure these days. You will need to find and integrate times to eat, exercise, sleep and relax. Avoid too much caffeine during the day and keep yourself from entering the negative cycle of daily caffeine and alcohol or hypnotics at night. It is not a matter of whether someone who is overworked will exhaust his or her energy: it’s a matter of time. When will they burn out? Learn relaxation techniques, including guided imagery or meditation. Listen to music or find a hobby. In addition to these strategies, exercising is a must for busy executives and entrepreneurs. Repetitive exercises tend to be the best to help de-stress, such as using a treadmill or eliptical machine. Others prefer yoga and tai chi to stay fit. Even if you take action-driven vacations, you will need to integrate the great activities that help you find peace and joy during the vacation into your everyday life. Last but not least, nothing beats sleeping well at night.

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Author's Bio: 


Dr. Gaby Cora works with people who want to be healthy while they become wealthy. She is a wellness doctor and coach, best-selling author and keynote speaker. She's the author of Leading Under Pressure®: Maximize Your Health While Building Your Wealth.

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