Work-life balance is important in every industry – so why do so many of us in the corporate world take our own well-being for granted?
Let’s start with a simple question: How do you start your day?
If you’re like most of us, you might grab a muffin and coffee on the way to the office after sitting in traffic or being on the commuter train.
While this might not seem like a big deal (“come on, it’s just a muffin!”); if this is your pattern every day of the week, it can really add up. Just by being more mindful about making healthy choices, you can enact major changes in how you feel.
How to Achieve A Better Work-Life Balance
With a series of small changes, it’s not hard for even the busiest professional to achieve a more healthful work-life balance.
Here are 6 steps to achieving a better work-life balance:
1. Raise the Bar on Nutrition
No, not the granola bar! Like we talked about with your breakfast muffin, food plays a big part in how you feel every day. Taking care of yourself means putting good food in your body.
I’m going to let you in on a secret – eating well is one of the best anti-depressants that exists! The right food can give you the energy you need to get everything done, plus keep you in a good mood while you’re doing it.
Take a few minutes to have a healthy breakfast – whole grain toast with a little bit of almond butter for protein, a piece of fruit, or some roasted nuts, and you’re on your way. Do you make your own lunches? Pack your lunch with food that “comes from a plant, not made in a plant”.
You might even try an eating challenge (not a “diet!”), eliminating or reducing certain types of foods to see how good you feel without them. A few things I’d recommend cutting out include: sugar, dairy, and processed foods. Instead eat meat, veggies, and fruit!
Wholesome, real food nourishes you and gives you the energy you need to be at your best.
2. Move Around
Have you heard that they’re calling sitting the new smoking?
If you don’t believe me just check out this Globe and Mail article on the subject, “Sitting is the new smoking, and it’s time to quit”.
Think about your daily routine. We sit during the commute, we sit at our desk, we sit on the commute back home. And then what do we do when we get home? We walk in the door, head to the couch, and we sit some more!
The evidence is in and the verdict is unanimous: sitting is just plain bad for you! Do yourself a favour; get up and move around once every hour or so, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Not only is it better for you, it will improve your productivity.
3. Take Breaks
Through our work day we draw a lot of mental energy. Our brain naturally needs a break every 90-120 minutes to function at its best.
Here are signs to watch for that signal when YOU need to “push away from the desk”:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Making mistakes
Often when we experience these signals, our instinct is to reach for caffeine or a hit of sugar. Stop! Try to sprinkle mini-breaks throughout your day and give these alternatives a try instead:
- Walk around the workplace… or better yet, walk outside (remember, it’s good to get up from your desk!).
- Listen to your favorite choice of music.
- Meditate for a few minutes.
- Clear the clutter in your space and your mind.
If you can’t leave the work area then take four deep breaths and hold for a count of four before your exhale. This will help you shift from your left brain to your right brain and become more present.
4. Fix that Posture!
Whether you’re sitting down and working or taking a break and standing, it’s important to have an ergonomic posture. Slouching can cause spinal misalignment’s, muscle tension, aches, pains, headaches…the list goes on.
Right now, pay attention to your posture when using your laptop or handheld device. Are you hunched over? Is your back straight?
Counteract that hunched position with this easy stretch – clasp your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
You may also want to make sure you have decent support for your lower back. Sometimes just rolling up a small towel and placing it behind you as you sit will help you maintain a healthy posture – without having to spending $2,000 on that top-of-the-line ergonomic chair!
5. Make Time for YOUR 30 Minutes
The better we are at managing our stress level and sustaining ourselves, the more productive and understanding we will be in our everyday lives. I have a prescription for you – a habit that I think everyone should incorporate into their regular routine: take 30 minutes a day.
That’s it! Just take 30 minutes a day for yourself. Fence it off, commit to it, and make it yours! Treat your 30 minutes each day like an appointment. It’s an appointment with yourself, and it is every bit as valuable as any other appointment in your day – maybe more valuable!
Everyone’s 30 minutes will look different – you need to do the things that help you de-stress, refocus, and revitalize. That might be going for a walk outside, reading a book, practicing yoga, playing solitaire online, or writing in a journal. The wonderful thing is, it’s up to YOU.
6. Shift Your Perspective & Find the Laughter
Stress will find us, no matter where we hide. That’s just a fact of life. But how we deal with that stress makes a big difference to our overall well-being. Humor is a great tension reliever and a shield from feelings of being overwhelmed.
When faced with a stressful or upsetting situation, try letting yourself experience your initial emotions and reactions. This often means you will experience a surge of adrenalin as your amygdala (the reptilian portion of your brain) kicks in.
However, the key is to not stop there. Remind yourself that you are in control and have a choice about how you respond to what is happening. Take a deep breath and consider your options. Then as tough as it may seem… try to put a humorous spin on the situation you are in.
I admit, this is hard. Sometimes you have to dig real deep to shift your perspective and find the laughter. Sometimes it takes a few days before you have enough distance to see the humor. That’s okay!
It’s Easy Once You Start!
You don’t need to make massive changes to your routine or your life to have a better work-life balance. Just these small changes can bring positive changes to your health, your energy levels, and your life.
Don’t wait for stress to manifest. Manage your “bounce back factor” by making healthy choices now!
Put YOURSELF on your priority list!