I’ll admit my plate is full. As chief executive of St. Joseph Health
and partner-in-chief of an ever-growing family of six children and 10
grandchildren, I have a lot on my agenda. And that doesn’t even
count the boards and community organizations that are also my passion.
Right now, I have no desire to slow down. However, I do know that keeping
my stress level down and my heart healthy is incredibly important. For
this February’s Heart Health celebration, I’ll share a few
of my go-to strategies for everyone blessed with a busy life:
(Annette Walker and family)
Bring your whole self to work and family time. Too often, when we arrive at work, we leave something at the door—and
the same applies to home life. We try to manage two (or more) personas.
However, I’ve found that the effort of trying to be "someone
else" is wasted energy and unhealthy. Instead, I bring my whole self
to work – my values, my spiritual life and my love for innovation.
Anything less would just be frustrating, and wouldn’t be me. At
home, I do the same. I love big family get-togethers, as well as time
spent in our community giving back to others.
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Recently, I think I’ve spent as much time on planes as most airline
pilots. With this crazy, up-in-the-air schedule it's sometimes difficult
to find time for a workout. However, I know that exercise is not just
good for my body, it’s also essential for my emotional health. When
I can, I find quick fixes like taking the stairs whenever possible, walking
during conference calls, or hitting the treadmill in the hotel gym for
at least 45 minutes.
Be present. Trying to multi-task by slipping in a few emails during a meeting can
suck you in and result in big chunks of inattentiveness. Instead, I try
my best to be present, keep meetings short and devote a suitable amount
of time for focusing only on responding to emails. And once I’m
done with the in-box, I’ll put the phone away for several hours.
Count on others. The notion that women have to do it all – from handling budgets
to coaching staff AND making homemade meals each night – is not
so realistic. I rely on the power of a competent team. That means remaining
in charge, but setting clear objectives to make sure everyone’s
on the same page and has the tools they need to succeed. Then, I let my
people do what they're good at and I never feel the need to do everything
herself. The same goes for life at home. We teach our children early to
help out; for example, they all start doing their own laundry in junior
high, and I’m extremely fortunate to share the household and parenting
duties with my very patient husband.
Practice gratitude. Think of every experience as an opportunity to grow and learn. Be appreciative
of the people you love and befriend as many people as possible along the
way. Also, remember to always count your blessings.
What’s more, it goes without saying that regular check-ups and knowing
the signs and symptoms of heart trouble are essential. As I see it, I’ve
got one heart. I want to keep it healthy and filled with love and happiness.
It’s not always easy, but the rewards are incredible.