Phew! I finally made it home from the vacation to Florida. I had a great time, but now it’s time to get back to the real world and prepare for work in the ER tomorrow. That’s the thing about vacations – there’s always more work to come back to.
As a high performer, I used to look at a shift in the ER in terms of hourly wage. “I can buy this thing with only 30 hours of work,” I might have said. Costs of things were put in the frame of how many hours of work to purchase. I would rationalize the pain of going to work by playing games about what I could buy with the proceeds. Perhaps you do the same?
All the while, I’m anticipating the next day of work, and my blood pressure is rising. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy helping people and doing procedures, but for every one of those, there is an hour of charting and red tape that I haven’t been able to remove. In business, we can find efficiencies and hire out the repetitive tasks. As a professional, there are many things that I can’t outsource. Add in government regulations and clueless administrators and you have a recipe for looking busy but doing little real work. Blood pressure continues to go up.
Why Does Blood Pressure Go Up?
Keep in mind that the body needs blood pressure to go up and down throughout the day. If you plan to walk up a flight of stairs, your BP needs to spike to get blood flow to the large muscles in your legs and core to get you up those stairs. When sleeping in a horizontal position, your blood pressure goes down. Each of these BP levels might seem scary if just taken as a one-off reading. In fact, I routinely treat patients who come to the ER with no symptoms, but a concern about the high blood pressure reading they got at the Walmart machine in passing when they were out to get a pair of socks. The treatment is always the same: one reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. We shouldn’t start a medication just because of this. I tell them to check their blood pressure twice a day and write it down. If they have no symptoms, they can bring it to their doctor, who might make a recommendation if it is routinely high or low.
Blood pressure might be elevated due to a wide variety of problems. Of course, everybody is different. See your doctor, who might do some tests to find out. Some people might require treatment. BP goes up due to stress as well. It is often overlooked.
Lower Blood Pressure Through Thought
If your blood pressure is elevated due to stress, it will decrease if you remove that stress. Take a minute to think about where it is coming from. Are you putting in long hours at the office simply to show that you are present? Do you feel like you exert huge effort without reward? Are you having issues with your family? Many people seek to justify these issues by stating that they are facts of life and everyone has them. They almost seem to wear it as a badge of honor that they are able to defeat the stress. Yet they can only ignore it, and their blood pressure rises.
Write down a list of every stressor in your life. Take 30 minutes to sit quietly and think about these. Next, rank them from 1 to 5 (5 is highest) stress level. Then, rank them again from 1 to 5 (5 is highest) on how easy it is for you to fix. Multiply the numbers and the highest is the one I want you to focus on. Here are a few of mine:
My highest stress is the red tape in the ER, but it has the lowest likelihood I can fix it easily. I need to work on that, but there might be some more low-hanging fruit. The truck is something that costs a lot to fix but I’m a high performer. I have the money and it is something I can take down to the shop any time. It still runs OK so it doesn’t cause me a huge amount of stress. Getting more people to read the blog is something that I really want and it’s not too difficult to do, so it gets a 9, and is where I am placing my current focus. These will change over time and my strategy will have to adapt.
I was on my vacation last week and I got the call. Rob told me we would be closing on our 6-plex in Rockford, IL. He put together this great deal and we partnered and It’ll close in the next couple of weeks. I was sitting on the beach when I heard this and it made my day. I thought about how much income that property would bring. The last deal I did with Rob netted a 43% ROI after a year. I worked about 1 hour on the entire thing and less on this upcoming one. With my feet in the sand and a drink in my hand, I wondered what my hourly income would be for this deal. Way more than working in the ER. I remembered I could quit at any time. Stress melted away.
Find the ways to reduce the stress in your life. See your doctor if you believe your blood pressure is high and have a discussion about this. I’ll be giving you more tips in the future.