Some of us might be making our Monday morning commute in an ambulance rather than in our car or on the train. A study published in 'Circulation' highlights that the deadliest time slot for a myocardial infarction is during the first three hours of Monday morning. In addition, another study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that more myocardial infarctions occur in January than in any other month of the year.
So what's behind these findings?
For many people, January can seem like an endless marathon. You've spent all your money on Christmas and the New Year and it feels as if pay-day is an eternity away. Negative thoughts can start to creep in. Unwarranted fears and doubts zap your emotional energy, almost paralysing you, and New Year resolutions go on hold or simply out of the window. You even join a gym as you seek to get yourself back into shape after eating and drinking too much.
All this physical and emotional stress can lead to anxiety resulting in hypertension, a common cause of having a heart attack.
Sort out your work/life balance
With the start of the New Year, many people are wanting to start afresh, focusing on new goals and beginnings. But the reality for most of us is a huge backlog of emails and the need to get on top of all those customer enquiries and new performance targets. You find it takes a good couple of weeks to get back into any normal routine. What's more financial worries can make you feel distracted, which further adversely affects your work and home life, personal relationships and mental well-being.
One of the best ways to go about getting on top of your work/life balance is by creating a personalised vision board focused on you want to achieve in future. Make sure these are small, achievable goals. They could include simple things such as eating a protein-only breakfast, drinking green tea instead of coffee or going out for a thirty-minute run on Tuesdays and Thursdays! By visualising these goals on your vision board, you can engrain them into your busy sub-conscious.
You can also build your capacity for positive thought through early-morning yoga and meditation sessions, enabling you to empty your thoughts, get focused and feel more relaxed about the whole day ahead.
Following on from this is the role of 'mindfulness', a form of meditative practice which is proving increasingly popular with many people in many organisations. Perhaps your employer is already offering lunchtime sessions or is this something you could look into as an individual or set up a group with your colleagues?
In addition, experience shows that some people can also benefit from reading personal development books designed to encourage positive thought and goal achievement, one of my favourites is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
Technology has really progressed with the introduction of apps, these apps are designed to help assist with our work life balance and achieve any personal aspirations that you might have. Myfitnesspal is a great app designed to help you keep track of the food you are eating by calculating your calories and workout the nutrient value of each particular food. 'Headspace' is designed to help you meditate, empty your mind and give you a series of deep breathing exercises and Fitstar gives you a personalised exercise programme based on your current fitness abilities and goals.
Work on your time-management skills
Time is your most valuable asset. You never seem to have enough of it. Yet, because January can be such a financial struggle, you feel the best solution is to work longer hours! Achieving good time management skills requires commitment, self-knowledge and patience. As well as time management, think about energy management. Some people put all their energy into their work life and then have no energy left for anything else. Yet quick and beneficial results can be achieved by taking some relatively simple steps.
Make sure you prepare effectively ahead of your working day and meetings and calls. Look at ways to delegate efficiently. In addition, keep to a work 'cut-off' time - a time when you leave the office and/or when you stop answering emails. Focus instead on achieving your personal or family goals - whether it's to become fitter, spend more time with the children or take a great summer holiday!
What are you doing to make your Monday morning a more relaxed one? Any comments are most welcomed?