How To Stay Healthy During Long Work Weeks
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The majority of people I encounter are working longer and longer hours. More and more of them are also working multiple jobs, all while juggling their family life and commitments. If you’ve got a hectic work and life schedule, maintaining your health is vital to performing at your best and enjoying life. One of my favourite sayings is “if you can’t find time for health and fitness, sooner or later you will have to find time for sickness and ill health” – and it’s so true!
First up, if you find yourself working 24/7 or overtime on a regular basis, it’s important to take a step back. Many of us have had the dreadful experience of burnout and once you get there, it’s a slow path back to feeling sane again – so prevention is key. Ask for support from your team and if you’re a business owner, analyse what areas you’re getting caught up in that you don’t need to be so heavily involved in. It’s a tough ask if you’re a bit of a control freak, but working crazy hours is just not sustainable in the long term (not to mention that sitting for long periods is now considered the new smoking!).
If you are putting in extra-long workdays to grow your career and find yourself in this unavoidable position, how can you ensure you maintain your fitness and strength levels as you get older? Whether you’re 25 or 55, staying healthy is important, although, we all know that you can get away with a little more when you’re younger!
I could tell you some stories…anyway.
To help you get through those long work weeks in one piece, here are some of my top tips for how to stay healthy – even if you sit at a desk for the majority of the day.
Never Eat Lunch at Your Desk
We’re all guilty of this at times but we’re not built to focus 24/7, so taking regular breaks helps you to extend your concentration span. If you bring your lunch to work, use your break to head out for a quick walk.
On a different note, if you buddy up with a colleague, be mindful of getting caught in the workplace gossip trap, which is likely to zap your energy and lead to unnecessary stress and worry.
Schedule in Walking Meetings
Who said work meetings have to happen at a desk? The next time you need to schedule in a meeting with two or three other people, take your agenda on-the-go! If you need to take notes, considering using your phone to record (just be mindful of any confidential information you may be preserving and what you do with it afterwards). Remember, we need a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, so this is a good way to get them in.
Make Time for Exercise
It may sound counterintuitive but getting out and about for exercise actually makes you feel more energised. The most important thing is to find an activity you enjoy because it’ll mean you stick with it – yoga, the gym, a team sport, it doesn’t really matter what it is. We know that exercise relieves stress, so whether you prefer to do it before work, after work or even during your lunch hour, make time for it. Treat it like a meeting or appointment with yourself.
Do Things That Get You to Your Happy Place
When you’re waking up in the dark and coming back home in the dark (it’s winter here in Australia), it’s easy to feel like you do nothing but go to work, come home, eat, sleep and hit repeat. You need to have enjoyable things to look forward to – whether that’s watching a Netflix comedy, going out to dinner with your partner, listening to music, catching a movie or reading a book. It’s so important to do the things that take you to your happy place each and every day!
Watch What You’re Putting into Your Body
Living off five coffees a day to get you through probably isn’t doing your stress levels any good. The same can be said for too much processed food and those glasses of wine you drink at night to “wind down.” While you don’t have to give up these things if you don’t want to, it’s important to be mindful of what’s going into your body and the impact it’s having. Wherever possible, make a conscious effort to choose foods that nourish you, rather than leave you more stressed and sluggish.
It’s so easy to go on and on when it comes to health and wellbeing – getting enough sleep, not working seven days straight, accommodating your morning person/night owl preferences and so on. However, it all boils down to this: we need to feed our souls. We’re not solely workers, we’re people and when we get our health and wellbeing right, everything else in our lives seems that little bit more manageable… even when things are crazy!
Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746. www.ontalent.com.au
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