Seven Habits (to Break) of Highly Effective People

George T. Griffing, MD


January 16, 2009

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During these tough financial times, many people feel they have to push themselves to unhealthy levels in order to succeed. But high-pressure jobs and long hours take a real toll on their immediate and future health. Whether running for president, moving up the corporate ladder, or juggling the family's activities, success may come at a hefty cost.

The 7 worst habits of these workaholics include:

  1. Forgetting to relax: Some stress can be good because it keeps you alert and motivated; too much stress, however, will take its toll on your body.[1]

  2. Eating on the go: Who has time to sit down for a healthy lunch? But beware of frozen meals, fast, and processed food that can be high in sodium, calories, and fat.[2]

  3. Putting off sleep for work: Lack of sleep can cause irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, poor judgment, and obesity.[3]

  4. Not making time for exercise: Humans were not designed to sit at desks for 8 hours a day. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk for nearly every major disease and to help fight anxiety and depression.[4]

  5. Working when sick: 3 common-sense reasons to stay home: avoid spreading the infection, you'll be less productive, and you need your rest to get better.

  6. Drinking (too much): Moderate alcohol consumption has some proven health benefits , but excessive drinking can lead to alcoholism, liver disease, and some forms of cancer.[5]

  7. Skipping annual medical checkups: Depending on age, family history, and lifestyle, a comprehensive medical checkup and special screenings is recommended every 1 to 5 years.[6]

Eventually, something's going to give. If your patients keep burning the candle at both ends, the flame will burn out faster. But, if they maintain a healthy balance, they will be happier and healthier overall.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr George Griffing, Professor of Medicine at St. Louis University and Editor in Chief of Internal Medicine for eMedicine.

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