How to keep a healthy lifestyle despite a busy schedule
Do you ever plan for downtime during your week?
If you’re a typical student, with a full-time class schedule, a part-time job, a social life, and a couple of hobbies, you may be finding yourself in quite a pickle. Unfortunately, the day only lasts 24 hours. And the worst thing is, there’s nothing you can do to get more.
Sure, you can sacrifice sleep or give up on an activity that makes you happy. You can even skip meals and eat a sugary bowl of cereal while you slave over that term paper that’s due in a week. But are any of these actions sustainable? Can you go on living like this for the next couple of years while you finish university? And what happens when you get a job or start a family?
As you can imagine, giving up a healthy lifestyle in favour of getting things done rarely ever works in the long run. So, instead of trying to turn yourself into a productivity robot, why not find ways to stay healthy despite a super-busy schedule? Trust me, it’s entirely possible – you just have to give it a try!
Being Overworked = Being Under Chronic Stress
For the past decade or two, there have been attempts to allow people to work less than the standard eight hours per day. And it turns out, shortening the workday by just two hours has marvelous results on productivity. By implementing a six-hour workday, some companies have managed to increase both employee productivity and job satisfaction.
But why is that so?
Well, it turns out that for us humans to do our best work, we need to feel healthy. And with a super-busy schedule, mental and physical health can be a challenging goal to achieve.
Biologically, this is the result of our body’s natural response to stress. The chemical reaction to acute stress is a spike in adrenaline levels. It’s what we often refer to as “fight or flight mode.” With higher adrenaline, our body’s reaction is to become hyper-aware, to prioritise blood flow to the muscles, brain, and legs, and to increase heartbeat and respiration rate. Usually, it will take about 20 to 60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels after the perceived threat is gone.
But, if we’re constantly overwhelmed, our stress starts to become chronic. And suddenly, the consequences aren’t increased awareness and physical readiness. Instead, our body starts to shut down. When experienced chronically, stress can cause headaches, insomnia, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and weaken the immune system. Furthermore, it can also lead to a host of mental symptoms, including anxiety and depression.
The good news, however, is that some mindful lifestyle changes can help alleviate and even negate the consequences of chronic stress.
Staying Healthy Despite a Busy Schedule
In theory, the best way to combat stressors is to reduce the time spent working and increase the hours dedicated to self-care. However, not all students and young professionals have the resources to do that. In their case, the best way to remain strong is to implement a few hacks.
1. Prioritise Rest
The best way to let the body and mind recover from stressful events is to get enough sleep. Research has shown that sufficient sleep boosts memory and cognitive performance. But that’s not all. People who consistently get enough sleep have also been shown to be more satisfied with their jobs. They are also more likely to exercise healthy habits, feel more accomplished at the end of the day, and experience better moods.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
It’s been shown that the Western diet causes chronic inflammation and increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. So, it’s highly recommended that students with busy schedules pay proper attention to their food intake. Unfortunately, this can be difficult when dealing with a jam-packed schedule.
If you’re struggling with healthy dietary choices, the best solution would be to start meal-prepping. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to create a personalized nutrition system, as well as to include immunity-boosting foods like citrus fruits, nuts, and Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
3. Exercise Regularly
Many people don’t realise that moderate amounts of exercise can help improve the body’s immune response. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should go overboard. But, a 45-minute brisk walk every day will help your immune cells circulate at a higher rate. This will allow them to detect and eliminate any viruses or pathogens more effectively.
4. Participate in Stress-Reducing Activities
Mitigating stress is another component of a healthy lifestyle. To eliminate the consequences of acute stress and prevent it from becoming chronic, it’s best to introduce relaxing activities into your day. Whether that’s meditation, yoga, hiking, reading, or taking a hot bath, know that these types of self-care routines can have an excellent effect on your overall well-being.
5. Nurture Human Connections
According to a recent Harvard Health Publishing article, strong social ties can decrease the risk of premature death by as much as 50 percent. It turns out that people who have social support from family and friends have fewer health problems than those who do not. This is a strong indicator that we should be investing time and effort into building meaningful relationships with people around us. Fortunately, studying at university (or starting a new job) offers plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Prioritising Wellbeing Is a Constant Effort
There you have it, a few hacks you can start implementing right away if you’re worried about your busy schedule hindering your health.
Of course don’t forget that, ultimately, you are the master of your own time. Realise that it’s OK to say no, and it’s perfectly fine to prioritise tasks based on the results they offer.
In truth, health can only be the result of a holistic approach. So, instead of ingesting a bunch of immunity-boosting supplements, make sure you’re giving your body and mind all the attention they require. If you take good care of yourself, you’re bound to see a rise in energy levels and cognitive skills. And in the end, this will give you the tools you need for sustainable results throughout your career.
Featured image courtesy of Deposit Photos
Natasha is a lady of a keyboard and one huge geek. She has a rich history of working in the branding, small business, and career growth related fields, so she is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge all around the web. To see what Natasha is up to next, check out her Twitter Dashboard.