Increasing quality of life has been a hot topic the last few years. We are in a society of workaholics and round the clock service, especially since smart phones have come into existence. Yes, it's awesome to be able to check our email anywhere but it's also a curse because now companies and clients get in the habit of expecting you to be available all the time. First of all, unless you're a doctor, no. Just no. This is not ok. I have never agreed with this. Life is about more than work. It's about family, friends and loving the experiences you have. This cannot be possible if we're always paranoid about missing an email. Did you know that in France, there are bans against emailing work-related stuff after and before a certain time? I say, hell yeah! The French have their priorities straight. I'll be honest, I'm still trying to find this work-life balance for myself but I think I'm almost there. If this seems impossible to you right now, that's ok. I've been there before. It's just something you need to work toward. So instead, I've come up with twenty ways to implement healthier habits into your life. Use these as inspiration to get on a better path. Hopefully one day, you'll feel in a good place with both your work and personal life.
1. Eat Breakfast. Even if you're not a morning eater, have something. Fruit and yogurt, a bowl of cereal packed with fiber and protein, a whole grain bagel. This first meal sets your metabolism for the day and gets your body working. It also starts you off on a healthy note. The better the breakfast, the better food choices you're most likely to make the rest of the day.
2. Don't ignore your hunger. If you're feeling the tummy rumbles at 10am or 3pm, don't ignore them. Grab an apple, some carrots or a granola bar. Letting your hunger get out of control is when we annihilate the cabinets at home with all the bad stuff.
3. Drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee you drink and before every meal. Staying hydrated is very important and you should make sure you're drinking enough in general. I have a rule for myself about coffee though. Before I allow myself to have a second cup, a third and so on, I must drink a glass of water first. Drinking a glass of water before meals helps you feel fuller faster preventing overeating.
4. Take your lunch break. Go take a walk. Take a trip to the Gap. Get out of the office and recharge. You'll be more productive the rest of the day and it will most likely go quicker because of that.
5. Cook big on Sundays. Make a giant meal on Sunday to last for the rest of the week. Use it for lunch or dinner. This will prevent you from ordering take-out therefore saving you calories and money.
6. Cut screen time during meal time. There have been a lot of studies and articles going around lately about eating while on the computer or watching TV. Some say that it causes you to feel less satisfied and that you're likely to eat more because you're not listening to your body. I believe this. When it's time for lunch or dinner, sit at a table. Catch up on a magazine or have a conversation with friends. Just be more mindful of what you're eating and how much.
7. Add spice. This will boost your metabolism which is always a good thing. It also adds flavor to your meals making them more satisfying and causing you to grab the chips later.
8. Keep a healthy snack on hand. Whenever I have busy days ahead of me, I always keep healthy snacks in my bag. When you get hungry, munch on these instead of getting that morning bun from Starbucks.
9. Join a gym on your way home from work. When I was living in the city and working downtown, I joined a gym that was directly on my way home. This forced me to go at least a few times a week since it was on my way home. I couldn't use the excuse that it's so far or it's out of the way because I walked passed it on my way home. Take your gym bag to work to avoid more excuses.
10. Find an accountability partner. Now that I'm in the burbs and working from home, getting to the gym is not as easy. There are tons of excuses to avoid it. One of my best friends is now my accountability partner. I text her when I'm going and if she doesn't hear from me about the gym for two days, she gives me a kick in the butt. Having someone to hold you accountable when it comes to fitness is a great motivator.
11. Take the stairs. I used this in a post listing 5 ways to add more activity to your daily routine. I saw Dr. Oz say on a show before that if he's going three floors or less, he takes the stairs. I love this.
12. Turn off all screens 30-60 minutes before bed. There are lots of studies about screens disrupting our sleep cycles. Apparently, the form of light our phones, computers and flat-screen TV's emit flips the morning switch in our brains making them think we need to be getting up instead of winding down. It causes us to have a hard time going to sleep and if they're on during the night or turn on for some reason, they can disrupt our sleep as well. Avoid all screens 30-60 minutes before bed. Read a book or magazine instead. Turn your phone top side down if it's in the same room as you in case it flashes in the middle of the night. I also like to put the Do Not Disturb feature on. It prevents my phone from making any sound during a set time so I'm not tempted to check it.
13. Cut soda and sugary drinks. I drink four things: water, milk, coffee and wine. Occasionally tea. The amount of sugar in pop and juice is disgusting. Unless it's fresh squeezed, avoid it. If you have to have carbonated beverages, invest in a carbonator. There are a ton of them now. Drink sparkling water instead. This will cut an enormous amount of calories you take in and reduce water retention almost immediately. I read somewhere that you can drop anywhere from 5-15 pounds just by cutting soda if you're a regular drinker. That's insane!
14. Get a good night's sleep. We need sleep. There's no avoiding it. To be the best version of ourselves, we need anywhere from 6-9 hours of sleep. Find the ideal time for you and stick to it. Sleep resets our brains, reduces stress and improves cognitive function. That's common sense.
15. Get to the gym at least 3-4 times per week. Once you've joined the gym on your way home from work, get there at least a few times each week. Getting regular exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep better and improves productivity. It's also just flat-out good for you.
16. Commit to a fitness class at least once a week. Whether it's yoga, bootcamp or Zumba, commit yourself to a weekly fitness class. The social interaction is good for you and working out with other people will turn on your competitive nature causing you to push yourself more. It's also just a lot of fun.
17. Go to happy hour or schedule a weekly GNO (girl/guy's night out). Me-time is great and essential for rebooting but getting regular social interaction is also important. Get together with the girls or go to happy hour with a few coworkers every week. It's a great way to let off steam.
18. Take up kickboxing. Another great way to let off steam is by taking a class where you kick someone's butt...sort of. If you're easily frustrated or you're just feeling irritated a little more than usual lately, take a kickboxing class or something related. Letting that anger out will reduce your chances of exploding a your stressor or an innocent bystander.
19. Make your bed and pick up clutter. Studies show that those who live in a cleaner space are more productive and less stressed than those who don't. Make a habit of picking your clothes off the floor before bed each night and make your bed in the morning. I personally cannot start my day without my bed made. It sets me on the right track and I am way less productive with it messy than made.
20. Go outside. Getting into nature has therapeutic qualities. It reduces stress and calms you down leading to increased productivity and a calmer state of mind. If you can't get outside or it's raining, look at photos of the beach. Water has proven to have stress relieving qualities.
So what do you think? Can you add some of these tips into your life? Let me know if you have more in the comments below.