Whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever you do, it’s statistically likely that you’re way too busy. It’s a sad fact that most of us in the English speaking world are working harder than ever and for longer hours than ever. Whether you’re a dedicated career gal or an entrepreneur you likely dedicate the lion’s share of your time and energy to the professional sphere; working as hard as you can to whittle down the gender pay gap and smash the glass ceiling, not to mention providing for your family like the mother lioness you are.
On those rare moments where we are allowed to slow down just for a minute, we often find ourselves collapsing into bed or falling asleep on the sofa. By the time work or your business, your kids and the myriad demands of the household are done with us, we have literally minutes left before the cycle begins anew. In this climate, as much as we may know that we should be taking better care of ourselves, it’s understandable that we may raise our hands to the heavens and cry “When?!?”. When you’re always on the go, and your days have a scant few minutes for you to dedicate to yourself, looking after your health and wellbeing are easier said than done. With so many demands on your time, and so little time to tap the brakes, it can feel like you’re the bus in that Keanu Reeves movie from the early ‘90s. If you slow down for even a second, it’ll result in a cataclysmic explosion.
Unfortunately, for as long as this mentality persists, you’ll never find the time to give yourself the care and attention that you deserve. And if you don’t make time for yourself now, your busy and stressful lifestyle could result in any number of stress related health issues. As busy as you are, even you can give yourself the attention you deserve in order to stay healthy, stay fit, look great and feel good. You work so hard, after all, don’t you deserve health, happiness and fulfillment? With the help of these completely usable hacks, you’ll enjoy a better quality of life without reneging on your many and varied responsibilities….
Early to bed, early to rise
After the work day is done, dinner is cooked, the kids have been bathed and put to bed and the dishes are washed, you and your significant other likely want to wring those last few hours out of the day to enjoy a few minutes in each others’ company. But is collapsing onto the sofa and trying to slog through two episodes of Jessica Jones really the quality time you desperately need?
Perhaps a more useful and profitable strategy would be to turn in early and get up at 5. That’s right, 5am. While the act of getting out of bed will be a slog at first, you’ll get the golden hours of 5am-7am all to yourself. You can take your time getting dressed and ready, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, do some yoga, hit the gym or go for a run. You can take a little extra time to ensure that your makeup is on point and your look is flawless giving you more confidence as you strut through your day. This will get your day off to the best possible start, give you a brighter outlook throughout the day and put the myth that you “just don’t have time” well and truly to bed. If you can resist the allure of your cosy warm bed in the morning, you’ll start to reap the benefits after a couple of weeks.
It really is the best way to make time!
It’s all about the shoes!
They say that clothes maketh the woman, but she can be unmade by her shoes! Those of us who are on our feet nearly constantly at work or throughout the hustle and bustle of our day to day lives could be forgiven for thinking that they must make a fundamental choice between style and comfort. If it were a choice you should pick comfort every time, since wearing heels all day every day can have long term health consequences. At best they can result in result in callouses and unpleasant foot odor and at worst they can cause joint pain, ingrown toenails and a shortened achilles tendon. Nonetheless, there are plenty of comfortable shoes that can help you to look good while meeting the demands of your day to day life from nursing shoes to loafers to Mary Janes. As well as tying just about any outfit together, the right shoes can help you to navigate even the busiest days in style and comfort, without the distractions of soreness, stiffness and unwelcome smelliness.
Stay hydrated, and everything else seems that much easier
Dashing through our day and eating in bites is understandable, but failing to keep yourself adequately hydrated is absolutely unforgivable. Staying well hydrated is crucial to your health and in order to get through your day while operating at peak physical and mental acuity you need to drink at least 2 liters of water a day while 3 liters is the gold standard. By drinking lots of water you’ll spend your day feeling full of energy and dynamism. Sure, by all means reach for a tea or coffee when you need a caffeine jolt but if these are your sole source of hydration you’ll find yourself lurching from one stimulating hot beverage to another with high peaks and low troughs of energy throughout the day.
Your brain is 80% water and staying well hydrated is crucial for optimal cognitive function. Unless you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day you’ll likely struggle with memory, recall or feeling tongue tied as well as feeling bloated and sluggish (which nobody needs). It’s important that your fluid intake is pretty much entirely water. Avoid sodas, including diet sodas as these will be packed with empty calories or artificial sweeteners which can be enormously damaging to your health.
Stop and breathe
If you feel like you’re sprinting through life and never find time to take a break, you’re likely to find your stress levels soar with each passing week. Even if you can’t find the time to relieve stress through exercise, you owe it to yourself to do something to address your stress before it has a detrimental effect on your health.
There are lots of helpful breathing exercises which only take a few minutes but can put a real dent in your stress levels and help you to feel more in control. These can be done in your office prior to a big meeting, in the break room or even in the bathroom.
Belly breathing- Sit down or, better still lie in a comfortable position with one hand on your belly resting just below the ribs. Breathe in deeply through your nose and let your belly push your hand outwards without moving your chest. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Repeat this 3-10 times.
Roll breathing- As above but this time put your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Do 8-10 “belly breaths” as above, keeping your right hand still while your left rises and falls. When you’ve found your rhythm with this, add a second step of inhaling into your lower longs before drawing breath up into your chest. Thus your left hand will rise, followed by your right in a rolling motion. Exhale slowly through your mouth and the tension should flow right out of your body. Do this for 3-5 minutes and you’ll feel so much better.
4-7-8 breathing– Start as above with one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Breathe in through your belly and count to 4 as you breathe in. Hold the breath for 7 seconds before releasing it over the space of 8 seconds. Repeat this for 3-7 breaths.
These exercises will help you to manage your stress while elevating your mood and helping you feel calm and in control.
Make friends with meal planning for peak performance
We’re all guilty of relying on convenience foods from the vending machine at work or dashing out to get fast food on our lunch break. While this is fine as an occasional treat, it can be damaging to your health and compromise your physical and cognitive performance throughout the day. Relying on fatty, sugary and salty convenience foods can cause our energy levels to dip and spike throughout the day, making concentration difficult and even resulting in erratic moods.
This is easily remedied with a little advance meal planning, and getting up nice and early in the morning will help you to prepare your meals for throughout the day. Our brains are at their most useful with around 25 grams of glucose in our bloodstream. That’s roughly what’s in a banana, which has the fiber to release its energy throughout the day thereby preventing cravings.
Planning your diet is hugely important if you’re to keep cravings at bay, and quieting the little voice that leads us to make poor dietary choices. Load your meals with berries, green leafy veg, nuts and seeds, avocado and carrots and you’ll be running at peak efficiency all day long.