As the year is winding down, we may want to begin our winter hibernation, but know that we shouldn’t ignore our end-of-year to-do lists, both at work and home. Set yourself up for success with these stress management tips from health and performance expert Dr. Greg Wells — guaranteed to help you perform at your best!
Greg is a physiologist who has dedicated his career to finding the secrets to achieving optimal health and performance. He works with and studies the habits of elite athletes to help us all perform at the highest level even under the most extreme circumstances.
Stress, Greg says, is one of the biggest detriments to our performance because it has such a large impact on our health. It elevates inflammation in our body, and while some inflammation is normal, chronic is not. So, if you want to perform at a world-class level, you have to block in time to rest and recover — easier said then done at times!
Greg said that good nutrition and sleep is crucial to recovery, and shared six easy ways to shift our diet and habits to reduce inflammation caused by stress. Any combination of these techniques below will help you see your productivity improve as well as your health.
1) Raise the Nutrient Content of Your Food
I have a simple formula for assessing the quality of food: Health = Nutrients over Calories. If you want to dramatically level-up your health, crank up the nutrient level in your food relative to your caloric load. Then you can figure out how many calories you need. Look at body composition, look at energy, and keep focused on getting as many nutrients as possible.
2) Omega 3
The science is clear that Omega 3 fatty acids are just amazing for your brain. My personal experience also supports that finding. I spent a chunk of time in 2017 in Portugal doing a strategic retreat on an olive oil farm. We did olive oil shots every night before dinner. I think I drank a gallon of olive oil that week. We would hike for hours each day and swim in the ocean. Then I would come back and spend five or six hours in their library deconstructing everything that I was doing with my career. I can’t remember a time when I was so mentally alert and creative. It was amazing.
3) Shift from Sauces to Spices
Move toward using spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon whenever you can. They are incredible flavours and have enormous health benefits. Many spices have anti-inflammatory properties and loads of other effects we’re just learning about.
4) Reduce Simple Sugars in Your Diet
Sugar not only causes inflammation, it also decreases the size of the hippocampus, the structure in your brain responsible for learning and memory. Seriously scary. Just think about all those kids who are being fed high sugar, highly processed foods every day. They damage the part of the brain associated with learning. I cannot believe we allow chocolate milk and pop in schools. Oh, and by the way, high sugar diets also decrease brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), decrease cyclic AMP (the energy currency inside the neurons of your brain), and lower synaptic mRNA (the genetic code for neuron connections inside your brain). Sugar is bad.
Research is increasingly linking meditation to reducing inflammation. It only takes about 15 minutes a day to acquire the benefits. You can use technology like the Muse headband, take a course, or download an app. Whatever method works for you. Just get some meditation into your life — it has major benefits across the health spectrum.
6) Smell the roses
Make sure you give yourself time to stop and take life in. These moments of rest and relaxation give us the brain break we need to recover between bouts of stress and work. My son Adam is a master. He’s three. He runs around for a little while and then he finds a spot to settle in. It’s incredible to watch him. Get him near water or trees, and he just looks at them. One weekend, we were down by the lake near our house in Toronto when he asked me to come and sit with him under a tree. I leaned against the trunk and he came and sat between my legs, leaning back on me. We just sat there and looked up at the trees in the wind as the sun was coming through the fog. It was just a crazy cool moment where my three-year-old was teaching me how to live. Magic.
Dr. Greg Wells is a health and high performance expert who, as a scientist and physiologist, has dedicated his career to making the science of human limits understandable and actionable. He is the author of three bestselling books: Superbodies, The Ripple Effect, and The Focus Effect.
In his informative and engaging keynotes, Greg draws parallels between elite athletes and top executives to help business leaders perform at the highest level, even when under the most extreme circumstances.
Interested in learning more about Greg and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].