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5 Life Principles from a Heart Attack Survivor to Reduce Stress and Prevent Burnout

I had a huge wake-up call when I was 28. I suffered a massive heart attack and nearly died. For 12 days I felt unwell and when I finally went to the hospital I had a 100% blocked artery and had killed 40% of my heart muscle. I’d missed all the signs leading up to […]

I had a huge wake-up call when I was 28. I suffered a massive heart attack and nearly died. For 12 days I felt unwell and when I finally went to the hospital I had a 100% blocked artery and had killed 40% of my heart muscle.

I'd missed all the signs leading up to that point - frequent head colds treated with antibiotics and sudafed so I could jump on the plane and ultimately keep my high-pressure job; the bloating and digestion problems (the antibiotics killed my good bacteria); the fatigue and chronic stress from running on adrenaline and pushing my body to the limit were all signs I needed to slow down.

I was mentally drained, physically exhausted and emotionally dry. I lacked joy and it manifested in the ultimate physical disease which can never be undone. The thing is, with hindsight, I can see the clear nudges the Universe was delivering to me to hint that I was off track, not living my full potential and needing to slow down. Those nudges presented as small things at first, like a common cold, tiredness and some minor stomach bloating but then lead to bigger things like sinus infections, tonsillitis, an imbalance of good bacteria in my gut, severe abdominal cramping and bloating that made me look 6 months pregnant.

Sure, sometimes you just catch a bug and get sick, but I was on antibiotics at least 6 times (if not more) in the year leading up to my heart attack. I’d also killed all the good bacteria in my gut (something that’s super hard to do in case you’re wondering and explained the severe abdominal cramping and pregnancy-like bloating).

The high-pressure job I held as an in-house lawyer for a company with offices in 105 countries, and the extraordinary travel commitments that went with that took its toll and when I didn't listen to the small nudges, the Universe delivered a massive wake-up call that couldn't be ignored.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from the value of hindsight after having a heart attack at 28:


1. Everything happens for a reason

Whether you can see it at the time or not, the illness, the firing, the car crash, the breakup, the missed flight, the heart attack… it’s all happening for you, not to you. Deciding to view things in this way will completely shift your perspective, reduce stress and inflammation and help you heal.

2. Listen to your body

You’re not invincible and you can’t take your health for granted. You need to cherish your body and treat it like a precious vessel. Fuel it with all the good stuff it needs, and do less of the bad stuff (I love the 80/20 rule for this). And if you get sick, or feel run down, heed that as a sign to slow down.

3. Follow your intuition

The reality is, the length of our life is not guaranteed. But you can use this uncertainty to your advantage by living each day to the max. Don’t let fear hold you back. Instead, listen to your inner voice that’s nudging you along and let it be your guide.

4. Do it for love, not money

The key to sustainability in your career (be it a corporate job or your own business) is happiness. If you would do it all day long for free, you’re on the right track to living on purpose and having a healthy, wealthy life.

5. Your mind is the key

How you think shapes your future, so if you think sick thoughts, you’re going to attract sickness into your life. The same with money, success and happiness. If you want to get out of any situation, whether its sadness, illness, a relationship, etc, it starts with your mind. Think happy, healthy, loving thoughts, have an attitude of gratitude and you will change your life.

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