A little of what you fancy does you good

Moderation in all things (booze included) should be the mantra of any stressed executive. Roger Trapp reports

Aspirant senior executives have tended to focus on the good things about making it to the top of the pile: the power, the money, the car, the corner office. Understandably, less attention has traditionally been paid to the downside: the long hours, the endless international flights, the detrimental effect on health.

There has been more focus on stress in recent years, but this interest has done little to alleviate the problem. In fact, stress seems to reach further and further down the organisation: even junior managers can expect to feel it at some time.

Dr Michael McGannon, a medical practitioner who lectures on executive health at Insead, the international business school, is not convinced that stress is necessarily a bad thing. Unlike many of his fellow doctors, who advise patients to reduce stress even though this is usually impossible without a change of career, he accepts that young managers will see stress as part of the job. "They don't want to decrease their stress because they know they've spent a lot of time getting it," he says.

But this does not mean that it cannot be managed. A strong believer that many medical conditions begin in the mind, Dr McGannon maintains that by improving their understanding of how heart disease, strokes and the like can be prevented, and controlling their lifestyle, business people can become "urban warriors", rather than "health time-bombs".

Again breaking with his fellow medical practitioners, he does not solely preach abstinence and penitence in the gym. He suggests that it is possible to still wine and dine and have a good time - providing you compensate for it. The compensation can come in the form of running or circuits in the gym "if you enjoy it". But it can come in other ways, too.

Dr McGannon, who has founded a research institute on executive health and taught 16,000 managers from 500 worldwide corporations, believes that spending 15 minutes a day on his "Five Ws to Health and Safety" will go a long way to keeping the average executive in good enough shape to cope with his, or her, lot. The Ws are: water (two to three litres a day, in the form of fruit or juice as well as pure water, instead of coffee or the like); walking (especially after a heavy meal); wine (because it is associated with conviviality and relaxation); wind (deep breathing and/or meditation); and workout (a few minutes of vigorous exercise).

If that does not sound especially difficult, that's because it isn't. But Dr McGannon claims that it is effective enough to stop the recurring visits that so depressed him when he was practising gastroenterology in California a few years ago. As he explains in his book, The Urban Warrior's Book of Solutions, (Pitman Publishing, pounds 14.99), it is simply a matter of being able to put a little balance in your life, of being able to share a joke with colleagues or otherwise loosen up in the face of the wall of work and responsibilities that confront the typical high-flyer. "The data proves that anger kills you. Psychological isolation will kill you," he adds.

He makes the link between the body and the mind by imagining a man on horseback travelling along a road. The body is the horse and the mind the rider. "If you get the rider right, the horse will follow, and you'll get from A to B," he says. The solution is "to be selfish, to design a regret-free experience". As he says in the book, "Nobody on their death- bed ever wishes they had spent more time at the office".

And, since you are bound to ask, he achieves his own balance "through yoga, marathon running and fine dining".

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant - IT Channel - Graduate

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a Value-Added I...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: A Junior Developer /...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor