When you’re working really hard, it’s easy to forget about yourself. Sure you know that you can only hope to live a healthy life if you have a balanced diet, and that you need to take care of your body and mind if you want to be productive, but are you actually practicing what you preach? I’ll easily admit that I often don’t, but I’ve been trying to do a little better lately. Here are some strategies I’ve been trying to take good care of myself even when life gets a bit hectic.
GET UP AND STRETCH (DO IT NOW!)
If you’re reading this article, chances are that, like me, you do most of your work sitting down at your desk, looking at a computer screen, and you’ve probably already heard a thousand times that it’s bad for your posture and your body as a whole. You should get up, stretch and move around regularly, but it’s not that easy to just get up and take a walk, especially when you really have to get this report done by tomorrow. The trick is to find excuses to get up and move, even just for a minute. Take regular bathroom breaks. Go fill up your water bottle. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. If you work in an office, go say hi to your colleagues on the third floor (and yes, use the stairs!).
SAVE YOUR EYES!
The blue light emitted by screens (akin to that emitted by the sun) can be a real strain on the eyes, so try to look away from your screen as often as you can (you could set up an alarm every hour as a reminder). Short of that, if you tend to work late, I highly recommend installing f.lux, a free software that makes the color of your computer’s screen adapt to the time of day: it will be “normal” during the day but will get progressively warmer at night. This will be a real relief for your eyes, and might also help regulate your sleeping pattern as too much blue light in the evening tends to keep you up at night.
GO FOR A WALK
I know I’ve already said you should get up and move around throughout the day, but this time I’m talking about a real walk, one that will be good for your body and your soul. You might think that you only ever have time to take walks on a Sunday, but why not change your midday routine and take a stroll around the neighborhood instead of eating a sandwich in front of your screen? Alternatively, you could walk a longer way home or skip a bus stop and walk the extra distance. If you work from home and find it difficult to take long breaks, organize your walk around something you have to do today, like going to the post office, buying some food, listening to a podcast or giving your best friend a call.
EAT YOUR GREENS
We all know that a healthy diet is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. But have you been eating your greens? Put a fruit basket on your desk, or in the office space you share and try to make your lunchtime meals as colorful as possible. I like keeping some dried fruits and nuts near my desk for a quick, easy and healthy snack, and I’ve been trying to incorporate fruits into my breakfast to make sure I get enough.
DRINK MORE WATER
I usually drink a lot of water, but if I’m busy I can sometimes find myself dehydrated in the evening. As it turns, out I feel much better when I drink water regularly throughout the day. I usually like to have a bottle of water on my desk, and I drink as much as I can. I try to refill my bottle as soon as it’s empty, as it’s an excuse to get up (see point 1) and prevents me from (wrongly) thinking that “I’m so busy I don’t even have time to get up”. Staying hydrated helps prevent headaches too.
BREAK AWAY FROM SCREEN TIME
You know you should take breaks throughout the day, and you probably do. But while broswing Pinterest is great (I love it too), it might not be exactly what you need to freshen up your mind. Try to look away from the screen, go outside, focus on something really different from what you’re doing. I find that manual or creative activities are fantastic because I can literally feel my brain reorganizing all the information (like a Tetris game) when I engage in such an activity. If you work from home or in a creativity-driven office, you might be able to play an instrument for ten minutes or stroke your pet. If not, try drawing, reading, writing, knitting, going out for a brisk walk or calling a friend.
KEEP ESSENTIALS NEARBY
Overheated offices can make your skin very dry. Make sure you’ve got a hand cream on your desk. If you’re too often picking at your lips when you’re stressed, get into the habit of using lip balm instead by putting a stick on your desk. And if you get dry eyes because of your contacts, keep some eye drops handy.
This one is easier said than done, especially when you’re very busy and are facing a tight deadline. But do try to take every opportunity to take good care of yourself. Watching TV might seem like a good way to relax after a long day of work, but if you’re not too tired, taking the time to cook a wholesome meal, bake some cookies, take a bath or do your nails will offer extra benefits that you’ll be able to enjoy for longer. If you don’t have much time to yourself, use it wisely.
ORGANIZE YOUR WORKFLOW
My final tip for managing to take care of yourself when you’re busy? Organize your workflow to limit the amount of pressure you’re putting on yourself. Try to keep on top of your work schedule by allowing enough time each day for what you have planned. Don’t be too strict with yourself, and make sure you account for regular breaks in your schedule.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please leave your tips in the comments and tell us how you find little ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy.