I used to think that being busy was a valid excuse not be healthy. My job would take priority over my physical and mental health, I “didn’t have time” to take care of myself and felt burned out most of the time. This was before I realized that you can have both – if you really work for it. A busy schedule does not mean you can’t live healthily. With a little planning on your part, you can even make healthy living an asset and a time-saver!
Today I’ll be sharing my top tips for maintaining a healthy mind and body while juggling a hectic schedule.
- Pack your meals for work
When hunger hits and you have no food packed, the first thing you will reach for is unhealthy take-out options. Try to plan and prepare your meals over the weekend, so that you don’t have to be stressing about it during the week. Providing your body with sufficient nutrients will keep you energized throughout the entire day. For a less chaotic morning, prep your breakfast the night before. If you’re stuck for lunch/dinner ideas for on the go, try out some of the following ideas:
Try using a slow cooker for your dinners. They’re a huge timesaver! And they make super tasty hot stews.
Cook a week’s worth of meat at once, as the meat often takes the longest to prep. Divide the meat into portions so you’ll be able to quickly reheat and enjoy on busy weeknights.
Consider a meal delivery service. There are plenty of companies out there that send all the ingredients in the correct portions and recipe ideas. The best part about it – it’s delivered right to your door!
When I was juggling a busy schedule, sleep used to always be the first thing to go. Little did I know that this was the worst possible thing I could do for myself because it actually made me more stressed out! Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, so take a look at your schedule and see what you can change to ensure that you get into bed at a reasonable hour. Sleep should take top priority, because without it you won’t be able to function properly throughout your day.
- Re-evaluate your extra-curricular activities
Take time to assess all your current commitments. Are any of them not actually productive or helpful? Is there too much on your plate? If the answer to either of these questions is yes; consider replacing some of your current obligations with more down time. Last year I had to drop a lot of my extra commitments because I found myself sleeping fewer and fewer hours, this affected my performance at work and my overall energy levels. If you find yourself being pulled in too many directions, and running on 3 hours sleep every night – you aren’t going to be able to do your best in any of the jobs. Think quality > quantity.
- Always opt for water
I try and carry a bottle of water with me everywhere I go. You will cut down on calories and experience improvements in your physical health by increasing your water intake. Too much caffeine and sugar in your drinks will increase your exhaustion and decrease your energy levels. I won’t lie to you… I do have a matcha latte in the morning. But that’s it. After that, it’s just plain old water. (Okay, okay… maybe a glass of white wine on the weekends!). If you’re like me and struggle to hit your hydration targets, try adding fruit slices to your water or keeping a big bottle on your desk while you’re working.
- Cut down on alcohol
Not only is alcohol high in calories and low in nutritional content, but it also makes you tired and sluggish. This doesn’t mean you have to give up going out on a Friday night with friends, it just means that you should consider going for clear alcohol (like vodka and soda) or white wine. “Clear alcohol (specifically vodka and rum) are the lowest in both sugar and calories compared to most of the darker selections,” says Dr. Rachita Reddy, a double board-certified nephrologist. With most things in life – moderation is always important, so try and limit yourself to one drink.
- Don’t skip breakfast
This is one rule you should absolutely never, ever, ever skip! (No matter how busy you are!) Skipping out on breakfast will decrease your productivity by making you tired, lethargic, and prone to stress. I’ll be honest with you – I used to skip breakfast because I thought it would help me lose weight. When in reality – it would actually make me eat more, especially by the time dinner rolled around. I would be absolutely starving and I would binge on the first things I set my eyes on. This vicious cycle would repeat itself the next morning until I finally realized that I was only harming myself. Some quick, substantial breakfast options include high carb fruits (like bananas!), overnight oats or pre-made smoothie bowl bags.
- Keep emergency snacks in your bag
Having a variety of healthy snacks on hand will prevent you from indulging in junk food when you need an energy boost. My personal favorites are blueberries, almonds, and kale chips! Try and make sure your snacks are not perishables (like fruit or meat) so that you can keep them in your bag for longer, without having to worry about their expiration date.
- Look for ways to sneak in a workout
If you are completely unable to schedule specific workout times, look at your routine and see how you can squeeze in exercise to the schedule you already have. You don’t need to block out an hour at the gym every day to incorporate more fitness to your routine!
Park your car in the furthest parking lot from the building.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Do household chores like folding laundry or ironing while standing up.