I find that implementing and sticking to a healthy lifestyle is so key to my mental as well as physical health. It promotes longevity, reduces risk of chronic diseases, and overall I just feel so much better if I know I am doing positive things for my mind and body.
However, I do also lead a super busy lifestyle. meaning that even with the best intentions, fitting healthy habits into my schedule can be difficult. Prioritising your health can quite easily be pushed to the bottom of the list to save on time. Skipping the gym to fit in all your work, grabbing a chocolate bar to keep you going throughout the day, working late instead of winding down before bed. If you’re smashing goals at work but your health standards have slipped, these tips might help you find balance before you burn out.
The key to fitting healthy habits into your crammed routine is scoring easy wins when you can. Drinking water is the ultimate way to boost your health profile without committing any more time, money or energy. The science is conclusive: drinking water offers countless benefits, from helping your body function optimally, to promoting weight loss. Your body is made up primarily of water, so it’s vital that you top up throughout the day. If you’re listening to your body, you will drink enough water. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. However, many of us are so busy and distracted that we don’t notice our bodies signals that we are thirsty. (We even misread those signals sometimes, interpreting thirst as hunger)
Try to establish a hydration schedule that is independent of thirst; at least until it becomes a habit. Then you won’t need to do this anymore and you will do it without even thinking. Start with a big glass of water the moment you wake up. Then fill a big bottle of water and make it your goal to empty it several times a day. Many people find that drinking a glass of water at set times of day is really helpful. Keep a glass by the sink and drink water after brushing your teeth, or drink a glass while you check emails. These small but regular rituals will have a significant impact on your health.
Do it Online
When you’re struggling to stay on top of your responsibilities, it can be challenging to prioritise health errands that demand extra time out of your day. Whether you need to visit the physiotherapist or drop in at the health store for supplements, these essential errands can very easily get knocked down the to-do-list. Take advantage of online shopping as far as possible for your health essentials like supplements or protein shakes. Many medical specialists, such as physiotherapists offer consolation via Skype. Online doctor assessments are available, so you don’t need to put off getting the care you need until you can take time off work.
Take Scheduled Breaks
Okay, so taking breaks hardly seems like useful advice when your schedule is already overflowing, but taking breaks is possible if you schedule them effectively. Think about the little bits of unproductive time you have on and off throughout the day; aimlessly checking your Facebook page, grabbing a snack when you’re not hungry, scrolling your phone for no reason… The reason you do these things is not really because you want to, but because your body and mind need rest. Rather than wasting these little bits of time and never feeling refreshed, put fifteen minutes aside morning and afternoon for a scheduled break. Go for a walk. Stretch. Listen to music. Call someone for a chat. Make a cup of tea. While it might not feel groundbreaking at first, you’ll soon become addicted to your break times when you start to see the benefits. Taking short but regular breaks throughout your busy day will reduce your stress levels. It will also help you focus and be more productive.
Rebrand Working Out as Movement
The nine-to-five is not kind to our bodies. If you spend eight hours a day hunched over a laptop or computer you could suffer from lower back pain, bad posture, and a host of chronic muscular-skeletal conditions down the line. A sedentary lifestyle can also lead to health issues such as obesity and heart disease. We all know we need to be more active. But let’s be honest: not everybody has time to fit a workout session into their day. Especially if you work long hours or have other commitments, you may not be able to find a regular slot for a workout.
Time to rebrand ‘working out’ as ‘movement’. Just because you can’t get into the gym doesn’t mean you don’t have time to move your body everyday. Research has shown that 20 minutes of daily exercise is all you need for optimal health. Try ten minutes of stretching or yoga in your pyjamas before your morning coffee or before bed. Take the stairs at work rather than the lift. Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way. Remind yourself that what matters is that you move, not that you ‘work out’. This change of mindset will help you build more movement into your day without carving out a set time for a workout.
We all have different things that keep us busy, and different priorities that fill our days. Try to incorporate some of these healthy habits into your daily routine. You may find yourself feeling less stressed, more productive, and feeling better in general.
*This is a contributed post. All opinions are my own.