When it comes to making choices that benefit our health, we’re all guilty of occasionally reaching for a Mars Bar instead of a banana. This might not sound like a big issue, but combine constant snacking with irregular sleeping patterns and long hours sitting at your desk or stressing over work, and you might find that there is a problem brewing.
Whether you class yourself as a workaholic or not, there’s no getting around the fact that spending eight-or-so hours a day nestled in a chair in front of a computer isn’t exactly the number one identifier of a healthy lifestyle. And for business owners, the stress and never-ending to-do list that runs through your mind only adds to the problem. So what can you do to ensure that you maintain your health and a productive work life?
Preparing yourself ahead of time is one of the best ways to keep your body and your mind in check. If you know that you’re prone to a mid-afternoon snack, throw some mixed nuts and a couple of pieces of fruit into your bag before you leave for the office to stop yourself from dipping your hand into the biscuit tray.
When lunchtime rolls around, keep yourself on track with a homemade lunch that is high in protein and packed with vegetables. Finding recipes that are as delicious as they are healthy is as easy as scrolling through BuzzFeed, and it means you’re far away from the greasy café on the corner that you always find yourself wandering into.
If you’re not exactly sure what constitutes as a ‘healthy lunch’, aim for protein-packed foods like salmon, chicken, and eggs mixed with quinoa, lentils, and beans to add substance. The focus on protein and fiber instead of carbohydrates, sugars, and fats will mean you head into the afternoon feeling energised and ready to take on the world.
And remember that preparing meals doesn’t have to be a time-consuming hassle. There are countless healthy lunches that can be made in bulk in less than an hour and will keep your stomach full for an entire week.
Focus on Fitness
When you dedicate so much of your time and focus to doing a good job at work, it’s all too easy to let fitness fall by the wayside. This is especially true for those months where it feels like you’re up against a different deadline every day, and time spent at the gym is time where you could be putting some finishing touches to a big presentation or finally clearing your inbox.
You might not have realised that your fitness has fallen, but your body certainly will have, and in response you might be feeling sluggish and low on energy – making you want to work out even less. But clearing just a small slot of time in your schedule for a quick workout could leave you feeling more refreshed and energized than you have in weeks.
Whether you choose to incorporate some light yoga into your morning routine or take a gym bag with you to work and hit up an exercise class on your way home, or even during your lunch break, an increased focus on fitness will not only benefit your body and your mind, but your work. With all the extra energy maintaining your fitness has given you, meetings that previously felt like a drag will pass by in a breeze. Combine that with healthier lunches and your body (and your business) will thank you for it.
If you truly believe that there is no time in your day to dedicate yourself to fitness, then it’s time to get serious about your health and bring the exercise to your desk. The smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences, so commit yourself to taking the stairs, doing some squats while you wait for the printer, and flexing your abdominal muscles while taking a call.
You could even talk to your boss about incorporating an office-wide exercise class into the day – something as simple as half an hour of yoga on a Wednesday afternoon could lift your heart rate and your spirit.
Don’t Scrimp on Sleep
When you hear the phrase work-life balance, you might think about leaving the office with enough time to catch a movie and visit the new cocktail bar down the road – it’s all about doing your job well while not sacrificing your weekly tapas night, right?
In some cases, yes, but it’s also about making sure you’re getting enough sleep. The ideal average is 7-9 hours of sleep each and every night, meaning that in order to be fresh faced for your 6AM alarm, you should be getting to sleep at around 10PM. If you’re staying up until the early hours, whether that’s because you’re finishing off a report that was needed yesterday or you have a big meeting tomorrow and you’re too stressed to doze off, the consequences could be dire.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the effects are immediate, and you spend the rest of the day unhappy and tired. You’re also more likely to snack on unhealthy food and be less productive than you would be after a full night’s rest.
A restless night may just be a one off, but if it develops into a habit then you may find that your work, your mind, and your body suffer the consequences. Luckily, there are plenty of methods available to help ease your mind into slumber.
Having a set routine is one way to make getting to sleep easier, and the longer you stick to it, the more accustomed your body will become to falling asleep at a certain time. Making sure to turn off all smartphones and screens at least an hour before bed is another way to encourage sleep, as the blue light emitted from your phone and television works against your bodies natural rhythm and keeps your awake for longer. Activities such as meditating or reading before bed are great for relaxing your body and your mind – making the transition into sleep that much easier.
If you focus on the basics – your diet, your fitness, and your sleeping pattern – an increase in mood and health will not be far behind. And with your mood and health in check, you’ll not only feel on top of the world, but you’ll also be far more productive and effective when tackling the constant challenges of work.