Your health is intimately tied to your success, both personally and professionally. It’s very hard to perform well, in any capacity, if your body hasn’t been properly cared for. When you take excellent care of yourself, you feel excellent, which makes you a more productive, creative and high-performing person.
That said, most successful and driven people will find themselves neglecting their health at one time or another. It’s easy to get caught up in your passion and ambition and find yourself a little overloaded. Here are some tips for getting back on track and staying healthy when your schedule is jam-packed:
1. Think outside the box.
Many people get caught up in one activity for exercise and one idea about what exercise looks like. If you’ve always been a runner, it might not occur to you to drop into a dance class during your lunch break. If you are dedicated to the gym, you might not realize that your office is the perfect place for a quick round of crunches or some yoga. There are plenty of ways to exercise.
Even little changes, like upping your daily step count by taking the stairs or parking further away from the entrance to your building, can improve your general health. The mentality that a workout has to be intense to matter is dangerous. Focus instead on fitting small, active bursts into your day.
You can also mix things up by getting a workout partner, which is an approach I’ve found to be hugely beneficial. I meet up with a colleague to play squash during our lunch break. Not only does meeting up with someone provide me with accountability, but the exercise also breaks up the tedium of the workday. Squash is fun for me, which makes it easier to get motivated! Find a type of exercise that doesn’t feel like work and leaves you re-energized and happy.
2. Don’t fear shortcuts.
A home-cooked meal with fresh ingredients is always the gold standard, but it isn’t always possible. Luckily, we live in a time where you can eat healthy with frozen foods and a microwave. Just because you weren’t able to prepare a whole week’s worth of healthy meals doesn’t mean your diet has to fall apart with fast food. Stock up on frozen veggies and keep a selection of healthy snacks in your desk drawer. The new industry of healthy meal services, like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, is also an excellent option for busy people.
3. Do your research.
There’s a wealth of resources for workouts and diets to fit almost any schedule and budget. In the era of telecommuting and remote work, everyone’s life looks a little different. Less of the workforce is living the traditional, in-office, 9-5 week. Health is an ongoing conversation, and there are so many different ways to keep your body in top working order. Even if you have a decent arrangement now with healthy food and exercise in your daily life, there are probably ways you could improve. Continue to read and learn about health studies, exercise and diet trends. While not every fad should be followed, there is always something to be gained from staying abreast of new trends.
4. Don’t forget your mind.
Health is not exclusively a physical concept. Mental health, especially for those of us with a packed schedule, is a very important and often-overlooked component of overall health. We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep, and I would argue that daily downtime is just as important. Allow your mind time to rest and play—this might mean trying your hand at a guided meditation, reading a “just-for-fun” book or writing in a journal. The mind thrives in an environment where it’s not too task-oriented. Create space for your creativity to flow and ensure that you are not always rushing from one job to another.
Stress is an alarm. If your schedule really challenges your ability to stay healthy, you need to check your priorities. What can you give up or outsource? Just offloading the smallest thing—hiring a laundry or meal service or house cleaner, even once a month—can create a remarkable amount of time in your schedule. Or perhaps your rebalancing needs to happen in your professional world. Maybe it’s time to give more responsibility to your employees, hire an assistant or ask your colleagues to carry more weight. Find something that you can give up to make room for your health.
If you ever find yourself saying things like, “I’m too busy to work out,” or “I just don’t have time to eat healthy,” then you need to reassess your priorities. You’re unlikely to achieve any goals—professional or otherwise—if you are neglecting your health.
Health should be even more of a priority when you are hyper-busy. While it’s not always easy or natural to create space for taking care of yourself, it’s still necessary. Use these tips to help you stay healthy, even when your schedule gets out of hand.
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