I’ve tried and failed to write blog content about work. I chalk this up to the fact that everyone’s job is extremely different; how can I give advice when I don’t know whether or not your work environment operates the same way?
For today’s post even though the subject line is about work, it’s really not about work. It’s about tips for wellness!
My week last week was manic. I was out in the suburbs working on a new audit client of ours this year, staying in a hotel out there and working with a January 18th deadline. I’ve known about this week, affectionately called ‘Hell Week’ by yours truly, for months. This gave me time to process, prepare, dread and accept what life was going to be like for those 7 days.
Going into the week I prepped the best I could. I packed early on and made a list for myself of what to stash in my bag right before the week. I cooked ALL of my meals (thanks, Whole 30!) and packed them; yep, I was that girl with three bags full of tupperware. I even planned my hair washing schedule (I know), taking extra care to blow dry it Sunday night.
I finished off the week not by feeling tired or burnt out, but actually energized and positive. How did I do it? Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Sleep is your number one priority.
ABSOLUTELY no exceptions. When I get busy, my health order of importance is sleep, then food, then movement. This works the best for me because it’s the order in which I can control my days. I might be too busy to squeeze in a workout, but I dang sure can try to get my eight hours.
It’s pretty simple. There are 24 hours in a day. Subtract the number you have to spend at work, then the number of hours of sleep. That’s what you have left for everything else: your downtime, morning and evening routines, etc.
Now sometimes this isn’t so fun. It can be pretty soul crushing to walk out of work and realize you have an hour before you should go to bed. But you do. It. Anyways. A good night of sleep is the foundation for feeling your best. In my opinion it sets up all your other healthy habits. Most people kid themselves about the number of hours of sleep they need. Do yourself a favor and make sleep a priority this week. Your body, mind and soul will thank you!
2. Say no to technology.
I’m going to ask you to put on your big kid pants and agree to something. Outside of your work day, commit to no technology.
Say whaaaa? I know. I KNOW. But let’s think about it. You are spending 12+ hours of your day staring at a computer screen. Logging onto social media and reading the news during quick breaks from your Excel sheets. Responding to your texts and changing your music station on Spotify. Do you really need more screen time during your off hours?
I’m not telling you this is a hard and fast rule. I use my phone as my alarm when I travel; I have to set it before I go to bed. But there is no reason to turn on the tv, no reason to surf the web or check your Instagram feed when you aren’t at work. I promise, you will not die from failing to see the latest tweet.
I even challenged myself last week to not put the music on in my car during my 5 minute commute from the hotel to the client and back at night. We spend our days surrounded by noise. Commit to letting in the quiet and just be.
I’ll be honest; this no technology thing can be tough. We are so conditioned to reach for our phones. I am on auto pilot to start up my car and switch on the radio. But it is such a gift to give yourself that for the few hours you have to yourself when you aren’t sleeping or working, to power down and enjoy what’s around you.
3. Sugar is the devil.
When you are stressed and worn out from a full day of work, all you want to reach for is a chocolate bar or a sugary coffee or a cookie. But what does that do? The sugar amps up your energy, then you sugar crash, then you crave more. It’s a horrible cycle, one easy to get into and extremely hard to get out of.
Food is a tricky thing. There is so much research out there on what you should and shouldn’t eat. But really regardless of what article you are reading, the best rule to follow bar-none is to avoid sugar. It’s an easy one and will really help you maintain your health during a busy time.
Plan ahead for when the sugar craving strikes. Pack snacks (even fruit, with it’s natural sugars, is a good alternative to processed sugar): raw veggies, nuts, healthy snack bars, etc. Stash some tea bags in your backpack and brew a cuppa when a craving comes along. Make it your mission to drink ALL THE WATER during your day. Having a plan of attack will keep you sane and keep you healthy.
Side note: as mentioned, I’m doing Whole 30 and prepared all of my food ahead of time. Meaning I heated up my breakfast in the hotel each morning, and warmed up my lunches and dinners in the kitchen at the client and ate at the conference room table. This is a pretty extreme approach but for me, it was a priceless decision in my wellness for the week. Even if you aren’t following a particular food plan, I highly suggest transforming even one meal a day from eating out to making yourself. The nutrition that comes from home prepared food is remarkable versus what you get at a restaurant.
4. Do what you can.
Going into a busy time it’s important to recognize you won’t be completing any personal bests when it comes to movement. I used to beat myself up all the time when traveling for work, thinking that a week out of town meant a completely wasted week for fitness. Shifting the mindset to “what can I do?” is a trans-formative way to approach life. Last week I meditated a few times. I did some yoga stretches when I got back to my hotel. I completed a few quick circuits in the morning. I found the stairs at the client (they are on the third floor) and made it a rule to not use the elevator. And I went on 30 minute walks during my lunch. These were all little things, but they were within reach for me and added to my personal wellness.
5. Be kind to yourself.
Busy weeks are the time to get selfish. Say no to drinks after work to blow off steam from a stressful day. Turn down the muffins your staff made for the team (nicely, of course). Resist the call of the tv when you get home and read a book. Light your favorite candle before bed and take five deep breaths.
We can’t avoid stressful weeks at work, but we can approach them in the best way possible to stay sane and healthy.
I believe in you.
Go love your life this week!