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When things get busy with work, school, or life in general, it’s easy to let your health fall to the wayside. And unfortunately, we’ve all done it from time to time. I can remember many nights in university when I hadn’t had a decent sleep in a week but chose to sacrifice yet another night’s rest to study for a big exam or finish an essay. I’ve also repeatedly been guilty of the old “I’ll start on Monday” routine when it comes to bringing my own lunch to work instead of buying it on my break. I’m sure everyone could give their own example of finding it difficult to stay healthy, and one of the reasons for this is that our culture tends to glamorize things like burnout and working long hours. Because those hectic work weeks are bound to pop up every now and then, here are some simple (and pretty much effortless) ways to manage your well-being while you’re grinding away.
Take it outside
Between poor air quality and bad lighting, our places of work can be uninspiring at best, and downright unhealthy at worst. Spending more time outside would do wonders for our productivity, stress level, creativity, and concentration.
If you can, try taking your work outside. Some of today’s most influential leaders are known to schedule walking meetings with colleagues and potential business partners. Before making their astounding $19 billion deal in 2014, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp’s Jan Koum famously went on a series of hikes together.
If working outside isn’t possible, try bringing the outdoors indoors. Research has shown that even doing simple things – like getting a plant for your workspace or changing your desktop background to a natural landscape – can make you more productive and keep your stress level down throughout the day. (Plants can improve your workplace’s air quality, too!)
Stay healthy by scheduling in time for yourself
When you have a busy schedule, it often feels like there’s no time for things like exercise and relaxation. But since these play a major role in keeping us healthy and happy, they’re really not worth avoiding.
For me, the best way to find time for these tasks is to build them right into my schedule. Whether it’s setting aside specific blocks of time to go to the gym or to read some of that novel I’ve been ignoring, it’s much harder to say no to something once it’s on my calendar.
So, while it might feel unnatural at first to create iCal events for anything related to self-care, you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel at the end of each week. Try your best to treat these tasks like you would anything work-related, but don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up. (Besides, you can’t get fired for missing a workout.)
Get some rest
Without sufficient sleep, it’s near impossible to bring your “A” game to your work. You operate at a much slower speed, are far more likely to make mistakes, and in my experience, feel like a zombie.
If, like me, you have a hard time getting yourself to sleep early, create a routine for the evening so that your mind knows when to wind down each day. Set an alarm for when you’re supposed to start getting ready for bed, just as you would for when you’re supposed to wake up.
If social media is what’s keeping you up, try setting an e-curfew of sorts and stick to it. I’ve recently started putting my phone on airplane mode when I know I need to call it a day. (This is also useful for when you need to get work done!)
Do your part not to glamorize burnout
It’s now been scientifically proven that overwork reaps nothing but burnout and emotional exhaustion. Luckily, just about anyone can do their part of creating a more balanced work environment for others – and by extension, themselves.
If you’re sending work emails after hours or on weekends, for instance, don’t expect an immediate response back. Give yourself enough time to complete the tasks you’re expected to do so that you’re not rushing to finish things at the last minute.
Especially if you’re in any sort of managerial role, you set the tone for the rest of your team. Rohith Pottabathni, a software engineer at Tint, suggests to “foster an environment that encourages workers to take time off.” And, perhaps most importantly, don’t “vacation-shame” your colleagues or employees for taking time off work.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid Burnout at Work