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".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border