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  • Like many, I’m working from home and expect to for a while. Even if Japan tries to open up, there isn’t likely going to be much recruiting needed by our clients to justify going into the office. Of course, I hope I’m wrong but that’s where we are today. Wait and see…

    So, the smart risk assessment is to prepare for long-term social distancing and working at home is part of that. But, how do we keep from not only going stir-crazy but thriving? If you are lucky enough to still have a job, this pandemic can be seen as a terrific opportunity to work on yourself and foster good lifestyle habits – the habits that you never had time for before because you were commuting, working and stressing about deadlines.

    Many of my colleagues have written articles on our website about working remotely so there’s no need to overlap there. I’d like to focus on health – mental and physical.

    1. First, the Mental….

    Mental Fitness – if you are anxious about the present and the future and stressing about work and life then you might wish to consider mediation. It’s been shown to have great benefits that far outstrip the 10-20 minutes each day that is required. If you don’t know how to meditate there are books and apps. I started using an app called Ten Percent and it finally taught me how to meditate. You can start with breathing exercises and work up to ways to relieve stress, relax and sleep better and to eat more mindfully. I found it very helpful in shutting down the cycle of useless fearmongering thoughts I have in the middle of the night and that has led to better sleep. Speaking of…

    Sleep – are you getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night? If you are not then you are likely lacking the proper amount of sleep and that’s likely affecting your performance, your mood and your health in the present and future. There is quite a bit of evidence that people that get less than 6 hours of sleep a night are in a higher probable category to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease later in life. And athletes getting less than 6 hours of sleep can show up to a 20% drop in their performance. This applies to all of us. So, get your sleep – it is the foundation for health. And the best way to do that is to develop a routine of going to bed at the same time daily and waking up the same time. Be sure to turn off your computer devices 2 hours before you go to bed and dim your lights after dinner to get your body to prepare for sleep.

          2. The Physical

    Eating well – I read somewhere that this pandemic is essentially the earth’s tax on humanity for our treatment of animals. While that is a bit extreme, I’m afraid I agree with it. I don’t want to point at China for its wet markets because North America, Europe and Asia – including Japan – have similar treatments for our food. Have you ever been to a chicken factory, a dairy or pig farm? Ever heard of mad cow disease? Swine flu? Ya, that’s us. But it’s not just our meat, it’s all the processed food we consume. It’s full of chemicals and fructose and other poisons that we put into our bodies and in turn lower our immune systems. My wife treats the list of ingredients on packaging as a warning label and I think that wise. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 are not from the virus but from secondary conditions like diabetes, obesity, smoking, etc. Now is a great time to learn to cook healthy meals and eat whole foods properly. This will make you stronger and healthier for the rest of your long life. And it’s a heck of a lot of fun as well.

    Exercise – get up every morning and walk….it’s that easy. You are getting sunlight and vitamin D which might just be helpful in fighting the virus and you are getting your heart pumping. Morning sunlight will also help your circadian rhythm and that will help with you sleeping. I miss going to the gym, but it turns out, we really don’t need to go to the gym. Doing body weight exercises is just as good and if you can work in a walk or jog or bike into your daily routine, then all the better. Take it easy to start if you are not used to exercising and work your way up. There is no hurry to reach a goal or a peak performance. Remember you and doing this now so that you can do it for the rest of your life.

    Cut down on the alcohol – I’m speaking to myself here. I’ve been counting my drinks for a couple years now and I’m surprized how much I drink. A beer here, a glass or two or three at dinner – it adds up. But recently, I’ve been strict with myself not to drink at all during the week. It’s been easier than I thought it would be and my consumption has dropped considerably. I’ve always enjoyed a beer around 5pm on Friday followed by wine and homemade Friday night pizza. Now however, that beer at 5pm Friday actually tells me that it is Friday and that we have survived another week. It’s a celebration – the way that it should be.

    And finally, get a Hobby – Sure, you can try to do something to improve yourself as a professional, but I think that pay off very low. You are not going to start speaking Mandarin or Korean sufficiently enough to have any impact on your career. So, do something that can do for the next 40 years because that is what is going to count in the long run. Too many times I see very impressive, smart, C-level professionals get to retirement and have absolutely nothing to do but try to return to the work force just to keep busy and it’s a losing game. At 60-65 years old you have very little to contribute to the fast pace of business – I know this is not a PC thing to say but I have seen it and I will not be that person. At 52 years old, I know I am a fraction of the force I once was. I still have something to offer but it’s declining and that is life.

    So, draw, knit, paint, learn a language for fun, play guitar, piano or the sax, write, cook, pottery, go back to school part-time to study archeology or history or film, make movies, DJ and record music, learn to code, study fashion or oenology (wine)…whatever, do something, anything (other than golf – sorry, that is not a hobby but just an excuse to skip work or responsibilities)!

    This is an unfortunate time for so many reasons but there really isn’t much we can do about it other than turn a disadvantage into a positive. With a little bit of an effort we can all become mentally and physically more healthy and stronger and that is likely going to lead to more enjoyment in life, more productivity at work and put us in a better position to help our friends, co-workers and family….and that’s pretty much the whole game of life, isn’t it? 

    Posted by 

    James Graham

    Private Practice, Financial Services

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