Stress blog

Recognize and respect your limits

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. April 6, 2011

A prominent shoe company tells us that there is no finish line and no limit to what we can do. If we really buy into this, it's a recipe for disaster. Let me explain.

Several months ago, a very fit woman in her early 50s was advised to have routine gynecologic surgery. Although the surgery was not complicated, it did require general anesthesia. So the patient was advised that the minimum recuperative period was about eight weeks and to expect her energy level to take time to bounce back. In addition, there would be restrictions on lifting and driving.

Unfortunately, the patient didn't heed this advice. She kept up her very demanding professional schedule involving travel, book signings, and engagements with companies and institutions. Because she was relatively young and certainly fit, she thought she could ignore the doctors' advice. The outcome was predictable.

Speaking engagements were canceled, ticket sales had to be refunded, and convention managers were not happy campers. In short, the patient was unable to honor her commitments.

So the lesson is very clear: There are limits to what you can do. When you exceed those limits, the results are predictable. It may seem counterintuitive, but you must take care of yourself to avoid letting others down.

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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Apr. 06, 2011