Keeping up with Yourself: Staying Healthy with a Busy Lifestyle

How often do you think to yourself, “I’ve got to eat better,” “I’ve got to get out and exercise more often,” or “I really should be drinking more water”?

Chances are it’s more than you’re comfortable with, and for good reason: Americans work anywhere from 44 to 50 hours per week, leaving us precious little time to cook, shop, exercise, and still maintain relationships with our friends and family. 

But every time that little voice in your head chirps an “I oughtta,” you should listen to it, because when you’re the busiest is exactly when you need to consider your health all the more carefully.

If that sounds impossible, don’t worry - there are a few ways to do this.

For one, it’s absolutely crucial to establish a routine. Part of why we don’t fit healthy practices like eating full meals, resting, and exercising is because all we can focus on is what’s on our to-do lists. But by snatching a quick ten or twenty minutes here or there, you can easily fit in a few healthy practices here and there. 

You can probably manage it today, but the key is to keep it up. Set aside the 15 minutes after your lunch break for stretching and breathing. Wake up ten minutes earlier to avoid feeling so rushed. Pre-cook meals at the weekend so you don’t leave yourself any excuse to dash out to the nearest fast food joint.

The consequences of overlooking your health and overworking include excess weight, hypertension, stress and depression, exhaustion, and even shortened lifespans.

It may be a little daunting, but you’re going to have to get creative, and you’re going to have to discipline yourself.

Take sleep, for example. One 2018 study found that nearly a third (32.9%) of US Americans got fewer than six hours of sleep per night. Much of that can be attributed to economic conditions, but it’s also important to note that people are pushed, and push themselves, harder than they have for decades. So the next time you feel like you just can’t leave that file for the office the next day or those figures have to be crunched or those materials have to be prepped, just remember this: there’s always tomorrow, and your health comes first.

Try setting yourself an absolute hard deadline for sleep. Chances are you’ll miss it once or twice to begin with, but the more you keep at it, the easier and more natural it will feel, and your body will thank you for it. 

Exercises, too, can become a force of habit if you incorporate them into your day. Try standing at work instead of sitting, or do lunges now and then, or take a walk while you make phone calls.

And of course, avoid snacks and too many long evenings on the couch. The biggest temptation can be to just collapse after a long day, but if you take the time and make the effort to put half an hour into a simple dinner or to go for a jog, you’ll be thanking yourself for years to come.

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