Dr. Jeffrey Morgan’s Guide to Taking Better Care of Yourself

These days, we hear a lot about self-care. In a world where we are connected from the minute, we wake up to moment we rest our heads, preventative measures need to be implemented to avoid burn out. It is crucial to your success and longevity to find ways to take care of yourself, because if you don’t, nobody else will. Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, heart surgeon and self-care specialist, took the time to develop a list of tips and suggestions for taking care of your emotional and physical health for a greater quality of life.

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1. Set your Limits

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan explains that the first step towards taking care of yourself is to know your own limits and boundaries. Whether it is an extra assignment at work, or your third work night outing this week, knowing when to slow down and relax is subjective and can only be identified by you and you alone. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, we all have a limited amount of energy we can give other people and knowing when to recharge is crucial in the daily decision-making process. A big part of this is learning when to say no, because constantly pleasing others can have consequences for your mental health and emotional well-being.

2. Lower Stress

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan states that stress is a major contributor to a decreased quality of life, further stating that about 55% of Americans suffer from chronic stress. One of the best and easiest ways to reduce cortisol — the stress hormone — in your body, is to turn off all your dopamine releasing distractions. Jim Kwik, powerhouse in memory improvement and speed reading, suggests not using your phone for the first and last hour of the day, as a way of managing the levels of cortisol in your body. Dr. Jeffery Morgan explains that jolting your brain with dopamine right in the morning is rewiring your brain and training you to be distracted all day long. Instead of turning on the news, checking your phone or your e-mails in the morning, try exercise, mediation, reading, or journalism. The first hour of your day sets the tone for the entire day, so start the day off right and you’ll be feeling better in no time.

3. Diet and Exercise

Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of any healthy lifestyle. If you eat a high carbohydrate and sugar diet and spend most of your day sitting down at an office desk, you will likely feel tired, lethargic and drained. Dr. Jeffery Morgan states that your body needs to get moving and consume the fuel and nutrients necessary to function at a high level. He further states that anyone attempting to life a healthier lifestyle should limit sugar and carbohydrate intake, and focus on a diet consisting of vegetables, meat, and healthy fats. These types of food will give you the fuel you need to maintain endurance on your walk, run, or weight training.

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4. Maintain Positive Connections

Lastly, it is important to ensure you maintain positive connections with the people who matter most. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of daily life, but as we are social animals, maintaining these connections are crucial. Dr. Jeffrey Morgan MD explains that research has shown that people who regularly engage in meaningful social interactions maintain better brain health at all ages. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health explains that just 10 minutes of daily social interaction increases performance on cognitive assessments and can give an important cognitive edge as we age.

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Professor of Surgery & Surgical Development of the Advanced Heart Failure Center of Excellence at Baylor College of Medicine

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