I really like being healthy. That’s probably a silly thing to say, but I just genuinely enjoy how my body feels when I’ve been giving it the love, attention, and movement that it needs. That said, I’m also totally that person who will let stress drive me to the edge, particularly the work-related kind. It’s so easy to do, especially when you’re in that phase of your career where “proving yourself” can often feel like the most important thing.
When that happens, I either go one way or the other: I either can’t stop working out and obsessing over eating “healthy,” or I decided to say forget it, and sit on my couch with a glass of wine and something delectably indulgent. Needless to say, neither one of those things are necessarily good for me if they happen too often.
Now, I’m a huge advocate for exercise being a great stress relief, but I also know that sometimes it can become something else to focus on and obsess over. I’m also a big believer that chocolate solves everything, but I’m also incredibly aware of how totally neglecting the nutrients I need makes me feel even worse than before.
Through all of this, I’ve learned one thing: balance is key to staying healthy. And health goes beyond just making sure you’re working out at the right times… it goes into ensuring you can keep a good balance of work life and personal life, for sanity’s sake. Too many young people seem on the road to burnout in their early twenties, which is the unfortunate nature of the fast paced world we live in. I’m all for grinding it out in the early years of your career, but I also think this is an important time for all of us to establish what is important in life, and for me, balance is at the top of the list.
Generally striking a healthy work/life balance can be difficult, but I think it’s the key to maintaining a good mindset. I’ve rounded up a few things that help me stay healthy in my mind and body when things get hectic:
- Make a workout schedule. Like I said, exercise is stress relief for me, so I try to do it regularly. I have a little “weekly to-do’s” section at the top of every week in my planner. Depending on what my week looks like, I figure out how many times I can reasonably expect to go to the gym and I write in when I plan to go, making it clear that it’s a set plan. If I schedule the time, 9 times out of 10 I’m way more likely to actually go. I usually set out how many time I’ll workout during the work week, and then, if I do miss one, I can always squeeze in an extra workout in over the weekend… or I can do that anyway and feel really good about myself.
- Take breaks. Sure, there are nights when I end up working until 8 or later, but I’ve learned that I can’t do that straight through. I go crazy, and I get unproductive. Once the 9-to-5 workday is done, and if I feel I’ve hit a bit of a lull, I take a breather… sometimes it’s to drive home, other times it’s to get that workout in, and even more often, it’s a chance to sit and sip some wine and recharge before diving back into whatever I’m doing.
- Set boundaries. Now, this could just be the nature of my business, but I’ve learned that it’s incredibly important to set boundaries of when I’m “working” and when I’m “client-facing.” With the exception, of course, of major things like emergencies or big projects, I try not to email clients after 6 pm. First of all, nothing is that urgent (unless, of course, it really is… then make an exception) and secondly, most of the time my head is not quite clear enough to send that over after 10 hours of work.
- Turn off notifications. It didn’t take me long in the working world at all to realize my number one cause of unnecessary anxiety was that little red number on my email app. I turned off my notifications early on, and I haven’t turned them back on. Granted, this does mean that when I’m out and about for work events, I have to check the app more regularly. But it also means I’m not distracted during those events, and it means that the times when I’m not working, going into “work mode” and perusing my inbox is a deliberate action. That makes it much easier to switch “off” when I need to, because otherwise, I’d watch that little red number creep up and it would make me so stressed out on Sunday that I’d spend time catching up that should have been spent sleeping.
- Treat yourself. Whether it’s a Starbucks on Friday, or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after a long day, or even a fresh new set of pens (does anyone else get as excited about office supplies as I do?!)… sometimes, rewarding yourself for your hard work is 100% deserved.
We live in a world of always-on communications, which can be both good and bad. I’ve learned that forcing myself to switch off, take a break, and get my blood moving can be the number one key to staying healthy when things get hectic.