We’ve all felt at times that our health is suffering from our work. Meetings, deadlines, travel, goals, the rush of solving problems, the enjoyment of working toward a goal with a team – these are just some of the many things that can suck us so far into work that we forget to come up for air. Many times we blame the boss, the customer, etc., etc. for tearing us away from the things we feel keep us healthy and happy, but there is only one person responsible for making sure you are healthy: YOURSELF. No one else is inside your body to know that you aren’t doing well! No one else sticks a fork in your mouth. No one else slurps down that second beer for you.
The issue is that when we are stuck in a negative pattern, it’s very difficult to see the light – especially if it’s been happening for a long time. That’s how patterns work. The term “getting into a groove” doesn’t only apply to things that are good for us. If we want to change the pattern, we first need to notice that we have a destructive pattern, and then we have to take action to change it.
The types of action we take to change patterns are often those that add more busyness and chaos to our lives, and this defeats the purpose when we are already busy and scattered. All the apps in the world aren’t going to make a person healthy if his issue is one of not making the right choices.
So how do you put yourself in position to make the right choices? You need to bring you back to YOU. Here are some ideas that will help you move toward taking new actions to create different patterns.
Schedule time in your day for nothingness. This isn’t about getting on the web or watching a TV program. You need time to see what’s going on inside you, and you aren’t going to see that if you are distracted with sensory input. By opening up this space, you allow time for reflection and relaxation – whatever you need to help you relax and collect yourself. Do yoga, meditate, breathe or journal. Find out what's in there. Some people take longer retreats, but you can get mini-retreats in every day, depending on how much time you can commit. Funny that this has to be scheduled, right? Well, if your default is busyness, then you need to put in effort to create more down time.
Exercise sustainably. The type of exercise that is good for a busy person depends on the person’s health and interests. Some busy people overexercise because they are so used to being on the go that they can’t slow down. Other people underexercise because they are so depleted or stuck that they can’t move their bodies. The goal is to find somewhere in the middle that is sustainable. Getting blood, lymph and endorphins moving through the body keeps your physical and mental energy from getting stagnant and helps eliminate toxins. More restorative activities can even help some people lose weight because too much activity can create excessive hunger.
Reschedule or bow out of meetings and activities that get in the way. You may have overextended yourself and need to cut back. Your health is a priority and you need to in build time for it. If you are critical to the work, people may accommodate you. You can always make arrangements to get filled in later as needed.
Hang out with people who inspire you. We learn from our environment. We inspire and influence each other. Look around at the people around you – at work, at home, etc. Spend more time with the people who have qualities you want to develop. You don’t have to make the same choices as them, but you will get some good ideas and then you can decide what’s best for you.
Eat mindfully. Busy people eat busily too, and then all sorts of digestive issues happen because of it. You could eat a whole meal without ever experiencing it if you are talking to someone or on your computer the whole time. You could also make really poor food choices because you are in a hurry. Plan your meals out in advance. Think about how the day will go and make sure you have scheduled time in to eat. Chewing completely will put you in position to digest your food better.
Sleep. Don't let work get in the way of sleep. If you are energy depleted, how can you expect to have self control? You can't make good choices when you are a walking zombie. Lack of sleep disrupts your appetite, how you digest food, memory retention and mood. These issues are at the front end of innumerable disease processes. No - don't do it. Get your Zzzzs.
Be consistent. Exercising or meditating one day and then not doing it again for two weeks won’t help you very much. Once you find out how much you can squeeze in every day, then do it every day. Otherwise, you won’t make progress. You don’t have to be perfect, but you need to strive for the ideal.
Find more LOVE around you. I know - work is often not a place for the L word, though it doesn’t have to be that way. If you feel your work lacks love, that can be depressing if you feel you are putting so much into it, and yet not feeling connected with the people there. Get to know your colleagues. Ask about their interests, passions, families, etc. Share your interests and passions with people. Try to have some fun. See if that changes your experience.