A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Roger Landry, MD, MPH, on my weekly Philadelphia radio show, Health Quest: Making a Difference in You Life . We discussed his book, Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging.
Much of the book contains advice that you would expect. Dr. Landry poses 10 questions for the reader to answer and then, based upon your answer, he provides tips that facilitate your quest for a longer life. As you would imagine, Dr. Laundry discusses eating properly, not gaining too much weight, and exercising regularly or, at the very least, the need to keep moving. Nothing new here.
What got me were the following two questions:
1. How many times today did you feel in a rush?
2. How much do you worry?
My first thought was that those two questions were unlikely to be related to longevity. In my opinion, they are simply related to living.
I checked the questions a second time to make sure that I had not misread them. Perhaps they really said:
1. How many times today did you have ample time to do what you needed to do?
2. When during your day do you not worry?
I started to think about the answer to Dr. Laundry's first questions.
I realized that I feel rushed throughout my entire day... every day.
I rush to get up, get my kid fed and to school and with all of the paraphernalia that is needed for that day. I rush to drop her off at school on time or at least to close to on time.
I rush to get to work (the traffic on the expressway usually does not help). Some days I rush to a meeting for an organization that I am a volunteer for. Other days I rush to my 88-year-old mother's home to take her breakfast and some groceries and then on to work.
I rush throughout the day to stay on time but I am often 30 to 60 minutes behind so I rush to catch up. I rush at the end of the day to complete the never-ending stream of paper work.
Then, it's time to rush to get through rush hour traffic to get home, feed everyone, go to soccer practice, get a snack after soccer, check homework (or at least yell, "Did you do your homework?"), and finally go on line to answer those last emails that I did not get to before leaving the office.
Then it's time rush to bed, to get enough sleep to do it all again the next morning.
So, Dr. Landry, as a woman with a career, a wife, mother, daughter and volunteer, I feel rushed all the time.
Even before reading Dr. Landry's assessment, I figure that I shave years off of my life with each over-scheduled day.
As I suspected, the book explains that I am at high risk for chronic stress, which may lead to heart disease, depression, some cancers, gastrointestinal disorders and dementia.
I guess I'm doomed.
But, more importantly, Dr. Landry explains that rushing affects one's quality of life and relationships.
He points out that most stress is self-induced and something that we can control through lifestyle decisions.
Lifestyle decisions... the ability to decide one's lifestyle.
I think the lesson here is to not only try to plan my days and nights a little better and perhaps say, "no" more often when asked to "do one more thing" but also to create a strategic plan for my life and stick to it.
On to the next question, "How much do you worry?"
In my case the answer is, "Most of the time."
I worry about everyone and everything that I love, so that would include my children, my husband, my mother, my dog and my friends. Additionally, I worry about my patients, my employees, the future (will we have enough for retirement?), our world, the environment, the poor, and those who do not have the opportunities that my family has had.
Before I read his answer to this question, I know that I'm now doubly doomed.
Sounds like I can forget about even making it to age 60.
Dr. Landry points out again that worry is associated with high risk for a long list of stress-related disorders.
He goes on to write something that I find very helpful: "It is essential that we all learn that when confronted with a difficult situation, we fix it, walk away or accept it. There are no other solutions."
That makes a lot of sense and something that I am going to try to begin to integrate into my life.
Fix it, walk away or accept it.
As a member of the "you can have it all (family and career)" generation, the sandwich (caring for children and parents) generation, the baby boomer (aging but redefining aging) generation, the book has helped me to be more thoughtful about my schedule, my diet, my exercise habits, my stress level and my happiness.
Live Long, Die Short.
Please note: I have no financial interest in the book or with Dr. Landry.