Are your work habits taking a toll on your health? As busy creatives we all have a lot on our to-do lists and all too often self care is at the bottom. However, small changes to your workday can lead to big improvements in your well being and even boost your creativity. Below you’ll find three healthy habits with plenty of practical tips to help you take care of you mind and body despite a demanding schedule.
Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? It’s true! A growing body of research shows that regardless of how many miles you log at your early morning spin class or on the treadmill, if you spend the rest of your day on your booty the benefits of your workout are essentially negated.
Chances are that you’re less physically active during the day than you realize. Think about it…Most of us sit while working at our desks, commuting, eating meals, relaxing in the evening, and then we go to bed. Thus, the majority of our day—usually between nine and 12 hours—is spent engaged in sedentary activities.
The problem is that sitting too much during the day increases your risk for a myriad of health issues like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. When we sit, our body essentially shuts down its metabolic processes because our biggest muscle groups (i.e. our legs) aren’t being utilized and therefore we require less energy. Prolonged sitting also reduces circulation, which means less feel good endorphins reach your brain increasing your risk for depression. In fact, sitting more than six hours a day can greatly increase your risk of early death. No bueno!
The good news is that it doesn’t take much movement to make a difference.
- If you have the space and means, install an adjustable desk that allows you to switch between a seated and standing position throughout the day.
- Alternatively, set an alarm on your phone or download a free smartphone app to remind you to standup and move at least once every hour for five minutes. (I like “Stand Up! The Work Break Timer” and “Healthier: Break Reminder.”) Any movement is better than none—walk around the block or do a series of stretches, jumping jacks, lunges, or squats.
- Schedule a walking meeting, take calls while pacing around your office, choose parking spots furthest from the door, use the stairs, or get off public transportation a stop early.
Do you eat lunch on the go? At your desk? In the car in between appointments or meetings? We’ve all done it (probably more than we’d like to admit), but these practices disconnect us from our hunger and satiety cues and can lead to overeating both in the moment and later.
Our brains can only process so much information at once. When we eat while checking email or scrolling through Instagram (guilty!), our brain is less likely to receive signals that it’s full leading to false sensations of hunger and unnecessary snacking.
Multitasking while eating also disrupts your digestion, as distraction can have the same effect as stress on your body. Consider meals as a time to nourish your mind, as well as your physical self, by giving it a break from constant thinking, planning, and processing. By cultivating more mindfulness during meals, you’ll be better able to honor your body’s satiety signals. This means you’ll feel more energized, refreshed, and likely have an easier time managing your weight.
- During meals unplug—completely! That means put your cell phone away, log out of your email, close your laptop, and focus on being fully present while you eat. Books and magazines are also off limits, as these are still distractions.
- Take your time to savor your food. Notice the smell, texture, and flavor of what you’re eating. Breathe between bites! It takes the brain at least 20 minutes after you start eating to register fullness so if you rush through a meal you may unintentionally overeat.
- Invite a coworker or friend to meet you for lunch. Great conversation can actually help you tune in and slow down. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to network and build positive relationships with another creative entrepreneur!
As passionate creative entrepreneurs, we LOVE what we do and that can make disconnecting from our work difficult. All too often, I find myself working on building my nutrition coaching business and blog from sunrise to well after sunset seven days a week, which is not only unhealthy it’s unproductive. I’ve even been guilty of declining social engagements to meet self-imposed deadlines and goals only to later feel resentful and overwhelmed with no one to blame but myself. Can you relate?
To prevent overwhelm and burnout, it’s essential to set boundaries for ourselves. We all want to be successful in our businesses, but not at the cost of our own well being or our relationships with beloved friends and family. To truly harness our creativity, we need to be intentional in finding time to nurture our interests and relationships outside of our work because these pursuits add meaning and joy to our lives; they are also rich sources of inspiration.
- Commit to an eight-hour workday schedule that fits your lifestyle and try to stick to it for a week or even a month. Of course it doesn’t have to be the typical 9-to-5 hours (after all the beauty of being in business for yourself is setting your own schedule, right?!). Still, creating a set schedule will help you be more productive and enjoy a better work-life balance.
- Add your office hours and days to your email signature—possibly even your website contact page—to add social accountability and clearly set expectations about your availability for clients and other contacts.
- Sign up for a fitness class, book club, or other social engagement right after work that will force you to clock out on time.
Remember, you don’t have to try all of these tips at once—simply start somewhere!
In which of these areas do you struggle with the most? What type of actionable steps can you commit to implementing this week?