Work Smarter Not Harder

Dr. Jeremy James: DC, CSCS

I think most of us would agree that we would much rather put in 6 to 8 incredibly effective hours at work than 8 to 10 mediocre ones. I am sure our bosses would agree even more. I am going to share some general strategies from our ACP3 Program at the Aspen Club. Our team teaches companies how to maximize productivity while lowering healthcare costs. I am incorporating the knowledge and teachings of our other team members, Dirk Schultz and Dr. Christina Miller, here as well with their permission. There are a few simple things you can do to make your workday more productive and be healthier at the same time. We like to target three key areas: Stress Management, Nutrition, and Exercise.

  • Stress Management: Stress Management is a huge concern in modern America. The inability to deal with stress leads to a variety of bad things: disease, loss of productivity at work and home, strained relationships, and increased health care costs for the company. Stress is important to us as humans and some stress is a good thing. Stress triggers our “fight or flight” response and helps us respond to crises. As Dr. Miller says, we needed this when we had to run from that tiger thousands of years ago on the savannah. We need it today when we must deal with that important deadline or some other crisis at work. When we are in a stress response many physiologic changes occur in our body: among others, our blood pressure goes up, our digestion slows down, our libido goes down, and our immune system is depressed. Basically, the body’s physiologic processes change so that we can deal with the immediate crisis or problem and other processes are put on hold. The problems start when people live in this stress response for days, weeks, months, and even years. Imagine running at a deficit in these crucial areas and you can see what chronic stress does to a person. Our team teaches people how to change this and bring that stress response back down, returning the body to its normal state. One of the simplest tactics is changing the rate at which you breathe. A change in ratio of inhale to exhale is shown in multiple studies to bring the body out of the stress response and back into a relaxed state. With some coaching, this one is easy to learn. Another way to affect the stress response is through nutrition. Meditation is the other key activity to modulate stress.
  • Nutrition: Simply, some common foods we eat increase the stress response and some bring it down. You can probably guess which ones are good and which aren’t. I’ll give you a hint: that donut isn’t helping. Dr. Miller offers simple, effective advice to keep a healthy diet. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Two easy things you can do are to eat “real food”, i.e. food that doesn’t come out of a package and to eat lots of colors. Easy, huh?
  • Exercise: Small bouts of exercise throughout the day at work help you remain focused and combat the effects of sitting. Studies show that this leads to increases in productivity and decreases in health care costs for companies.

This is a very general overview. For specifics, please contact me at backinstitute@aspenclub.com for further info. We have had great success at helping companies keep their employees happy and healthy while increasing productivity. It’s a no brainer!