We’re in senior positions now thanks to the many years behind us, and we should be flying high within our career. Indeed, the list of achievements – when we take a minute to consider them – is impressive. All should be good: experience, acknowledgements, progression, promotions.
All should be good, but sometimes it isn’t.
It’s that feeling of low energy. Feeling worn down more quickly than in our younger days. The need to start the day with a coffee or it will be a disastrous day. Trying not to overdo the coffee, possibly cigarettes, wine in the evening to wind down. The afternoon slump. The feeling that the memory isn’t as good these days, a little bit foggy sometimes. Tired of the office politics. Tired in general. More easily irritated. Not enough time for a decent breakfast or lunch, and dinner could often be something easy, pre-prepared or takeaway, because we really can’t be bothered with cooking at the end of an exhausting day.
What’s going on? Is it just age, or can anything be done to fix this?
The short answer is that we can improve on this, it is not just a sign of getting older. Career progression takes it’s toll on the systems within the body that impact energy levels, cognitive functions including quickness of thinking and memory, and general wellbeing. Many career professionals avoid thinking about this hidden cost, but they suffer internally as a result, making work and life that much harder. It is our fast pace and intensity of our working lives combined with everything else we have going on that is taking it’s toll on our personal performance – we can feel it, even when others don’t see it.
It’s taken years to build up to this point, so don’t be sold by the miracle diet or time-management class to be the panacea. But it isn’t hard work to fix it, though we may require a bit of help.
To start with, the often low lying stress levels (to say nothing of the moments of intense stress) slowly build up cortisol levels that impact clarity of thought and memory. This can impact on the effectiveness and health of the gut- which we may or may not notice from other symptoms. Added to this is the internal inflammation which may be occurring from a combination of food and drink that could deteriorate the inner lining of the gut. So the gut is being shredded from both sides, further exasperating the internal inflammation.
Inflammation is a great thing for fighting viruses, but when it is building up for other reasons, such as the consequences of a hectic work life, it is instead pushing into our other body systems, including having a detrimental effect on our cognition.
We lose brain power.
Not only is this increasingly happening now, there is increased risk of real damage to the brain, bones, and immune system as the years progress.
Taking action now not only helps immediately with performance at work (and in other aspects of our lives), but helps build resilience in our brains and bodies for our later years.
Diet, exercise and sleep can all help. There are many sources of information on how to heal the gut for better performance available. You might like to try the Mediterranean Diet which has research demonstrating its healing effects. Probiotics can be helpful, but there are different types so worth getting some advice. But in reality, our bodies are different and therefore the most efficient and easiest way to regain optimum performance is to start with an analysis of what’s happening to us, individually, and having an agreed, realistic, personal performance-boosting plan. This service is generally offered by integrative medicine practitioners or health psychologists.
It is worth investing in such a service for those of us who are ambitious and still want to fly-high in our careers. For the next 6 to 12 months, consider reallocating your resources spent on ongoing sessions with your executive coach or on short management courses to reboot your own internal system and regain your high-achieving performance. A professional partnership that is tailored and evidence-based will gain the best returns on your investment – and you’ll really notice the difference.
Brisbane based professionals can book sessions located at West End through River Tree Health: http://rivertreehealth.com.au/integrative-medicine/