WORK-LIFE BALANCE / AUG. 14, 2015
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Is Your Health in Need of a Boost?

As an achievement-orientated individual, there’s no doubt that you have a lot on your plate. When it comes to a successful career, being driven is key to your success. In order to achieve big things, you need to put in a significant amount of time and effort. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day and many of us don’t realize that we’re neglecting our health in the process of getting everything done.

See Also: How to Survive a 10 Hour Work Day

If you want to reach the top, you’ll need to be on top of your game. Based on the daily demands you face, your health and well-being need to be assessed. You cannot expect yourself to work long hours, travel, and withstand the pressure without looking after yourself. Perhaps you don’t even realize that your health is diminishing. 

Based on your work ethic, you may be fooling those around you, as well as yourself. However, those long days will catch up to you if you’re not careful. The last thing you want is a burn out that will completely sabotage your goals and productivity. Don’t wait until your burn out, or become ill to take action. Are you displaying symptoms of ill health without knowing it? Read this article to find out if your health is need of a boost and what to do about it. 

1. Am I Too Stressed?

Each and every day brings new challenges, causing stress levels to increase. Some stress is normal, however, when you are constantly exposed to stressful situations, you can significantly threaten your well-being. Stress dates back to when our ancestors were faced with danger and their cortisol levels would increase. This would allow them to either flee or stay and fight. Today, we endure different types of stressors. We have bills to pay, deadlines to meet, and people to care for. This stress creates prolonged exposure and is contributing to a number of health concerns. Can you relate to the following symptoms?

  • More headaches than usual
  • If you’re a woman, more painful menstrual cramps than normal
  • An achy jaw
  • Unusual dreams 
  • Increased food cravings 
  • Irritated skin (either dry or increased acne)
  • Catch every common cold and flu 
  • Stomach aches
  • Becoming overly emotional 

If you can relate to some or all of these silent symptoms, you may be far too stressed out. Hormones play a serious role in your health, both physical and psychological. If you’re constantly under stress, your body is going to react. So, what do you do?

This doesn’t mean that you should stop working all together. You can continue to achieve your professional goals without being so stressed out. The key is managing stress so that it doesn’t have the opportunity to negatively affect you. Easier said than done right? Well, not exactly. When you focus on creating new habits and supporting your mental wellness, you’ll see that a lot of your everyday stress can be avoided.

First, learn to prioritize and manage your time. This will help you tremendously. Planning ahead can help you better adjust when faced with unexpected hiccups in your day. Do not focus on the 101 tasks that need to be completed. Instead, focus on a two to three-day plan.

Remember, there’s only so much time in the day. Prioritize what’s most important and focus on that. Complete it and then move onto the next task. By doing so, you will reduce overall stress. If something comes up, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and create a course of action. Once again, place it in a priority sequence.

If you work twelve hour days, don’t be shy to take short breaks often. You’ll find that you’ll be productive in the long run. Sometimes all you need is a little fresh air to refocus. Come back with a clear mind and fresh eyes to tackle your next task.

2. Am I Eating Right?

Keep telling yourself, you’re not a robot. You need proper nutrition in order to keep up with the demands of your career. We all know that fries and a soda for lunch aren’t wise choices, so why do we choose them? For many, it’s either a lack of time or poor eating habits. More often than not we are not even aware of how poor our nutrition really is, or worse we choose to ignore it. Are you meeting your daily requirements? Many of us are actually undernourished despite overeating. Here are some signs that you’re not eating enough or not eating the right foods. 

  • You’re feeling more anxious or depressed
  • Your hair is thinning or falling out and your nails are bitter
  • You’re experiencing chronic fatigue
  • Your immune system is low and you’re sick more often 
  • You’re suffering from digestive issues (stomach aches, constipation, bloating, or diarrhea) 

Although these symptoms could be due to an underlying illness, poor nutrition is more common than you’d believe. Without proper vitamins, minerals, fats, and protein, your body will not be as efficient as it could be. If your symptoms worsen, it’s important to see a doctor.  

When it comes to poor eating habits, it’s critical to remember that you have the power to make changes right now. Just as you heavily focus on your career, use some of that time and energy to care for your body. In the long run, you’ll better support your efforts. Here are a few basic tips that can make a significant difference:  

  • Don’t skip breakfast: Your brain weighs only 2 percent of your body weight, yet it uses 20 percent of your daily total energy. When you’re sleeping all night, your body is fasting. This is where the term breakfast came from, ’break’ the ’fast.’ If you plan on attending three meetings before noon, you need to support your cognitive health. Focus on quick breakfast choices that are low glycemic and provide protein. This will allow you to tackle your morning in a more focused manner. Some great options are Greek yogurt with raw honey and berries, energy bars, or a scrambled egg with whole grain toast.
  • Eat lunch: What’s even worse than getting take-out? Not eating at all. There’s ALWAYS time to eat and reenergize. Once again, it’s all about breaking former habits. Once you get into the routine of making a nutrient-rich lunch the night before, it will just become part of your daily routine. Don’t forget to include some healthy fats in order to further support brain function. Some great sources are tuna, avocado, flax seeds, or nuts.
  • Pack snacks: Snacking throughout the day is important. To keep up with the demands you face, you need nutrients and energy, plain and simple. 
  • Stay Hydrated: If you lack energy, the solution could be as simple as drinking more water. Considering your brain is over 70 percent water, you need to drink enough. Most sources say that you should drink eight cups daily. This is a great starting point, however, everyone’s body is unique. Focus on drinking half your weight in ounces each day. That means, if you weight 140 pounds, you’ll need around 70 ounces a day. Soda is one of the worst culprits regarding poor health and eating habits. If you’re a soda drinker, start by replacing each soda with water. This small change will already significantly boost your health.

3. Am I Getting Enough Sleep?

Being a career-driven individual can be challenging when it’s time to unwind. Within our modern society and career roles, it’s tempting to short-change yourself in terms of sleep. There’s always something that can be addressed and completed. You need to move away from this notion, especially if it’s affecting your ability to sleep. How do you know if you’re not getting enough?

  • Sleep and mood are interconnected. Have you become overly moody?
  • Productivity and performance levels are being affected 
  • Potential weight gain (once again, based on hormonal imbalances related to lack of sleep) 
  • Poor judgement 
  • Experiencing daytime drowsiness 

Remember, prioritize your daily tasks. Complete what needs to be done that day and then focus on unplugging. Your career is most certainly important, but so is finding that right balance. Without work-life balance, you will increase your risk of burning out.

Add an additional 30 minutes of sleep each night to start. This will help you to wake up feeling more refreshed. When you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, your immune system becomes threatened. With a weakened immune system, don’t expect to last long working twelve hour days. Your body won’t be able to keep up.

Melatonin is the hormone that’s responsible for making us feel sleepy. To support your natural melatonin production, try to get outside for a minimum of 15 minutes daily. This is a great excuse to take a much-needed break or an outdoor walk.

Once again, this is one more reason to unplug. If you are laying in bed with your phone or laptop, you are going to affect your body’s ability to produce this essential sleep hormone. Also, turn your phone to silent so emails can’t wake you up at night.

4. It's Time to Set Lifestyle Goals

If you can relate to the symptoms above or just feel as though your health needs a boost, you need to make changes to your current lifestyle and routine. That will mean setting realistic goals that are achievable. When you achieve a goal, your brain releases dopamine. This reinforces pathways which make you eager to pursue new challenging goals. How effective are you at achieving your goals? When it comes to your health, it’s best to start small.

Perhaps you set goals in the past to go to the gym four times a week. If you were trying to go from zero activity to frequent and intense physical activity, there’s a good chance it won’t last long. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Gradual changes are okay, no one said you need to lower your blood pressure overnight.

We’re creatures of habit and sometimes our habits can have devastating effects on our health. When you set smaller, more attainable goals, you’re more likely to make lasting changes that promote positive health. Focus on one key area at a time, making changes that will benefit you long-term. If that means working a few hours less each week, then that’s what you’ll need to do. The quality of your work does not need to be sacrificed, just plan more effectively.

See Also: Does Yoga Really Help to Balance Your Life?

At the end of the day, if you want to achieve big things, you’re going to need to work for them. In order to do so, you’ll need to take care of your body and mind. Without your health, you have nothing. The key is wanting change, then seeking it. Based on your strong work ethic, you know that you can take the same approach with your health. Focus on becoming a healthier version of your current self so that you can continue to strive for bigger and better achievements.

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