We live in a world where we are constantly on the go. We add items to our to-do list faster than we can cross them off. Sometimes we even forget to eat or sleep – let alone embrace a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
Check out these tips to help maintain physical and mental wellness in the midst of chaos:
1. Practice mindfulness
Lori Osborne, an Advocate Medical Group mental health clinician at BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., suggests practicing mindfulness — a practice of acceptance and staying in the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or future.
“It is easy to learn and can be done anywhere, anytime, to get a greater sense of calm,” Osborne says.
Create a routine that includes adequate sleep, exercise and eating healthy meals. It is hard to adequately take care of ourselves with all the busyness that happens around us, says Osborne.
“Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and also with excess sugars and simple carbs,” she says. “Focus on positive things in life, build friendships, do something helpful for others, laugh and make time for fun.”
2. Simplify your life
Dr. Judy Woodburn, an Advocate Medical Group clinical psychologist at BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., offers some practical tips for simplifying life:
- Keep a log of how you spend your time for a week. Review it to give yourself a reality check about your schedule and to help determine what is and is not working.
- Identify how much time you need for daily necessities, and add in other activities only if you still have time left.
- Learn to say “no” to commitments.
- Get rid of things you do not use. Maintaining all of that “stuff” can be very time- and energy- consuming, and it adds to the feeling that life is “cluttered“.
3. Eat healthier snacks:
Don’t let the munchies deviate you from your healthy meal plans. Pre-packaged unhealthy snacks will not only interrupt your healthy eating, but they lack essential nutrients, says Dr. Alison Chen, a naturopathic doctor, in a HuffPost Canada blog.
Stock up on Tupperware® and Ziploc® baggies for convenient, ready-to-go snacks. Preparing your own snacks to keep at the office, in the car or at home will help control hunger.
The American Heart Association recommends:
- Carrots or celery with hummus
- Raw mixed nuts and seeds
- Veggies and fruit
Protein bars and smoothies are great choices to help you to feel full. Try having a full glass of cold water before you eat – experts warn that the body can often mistake thirst for hunger.
4. Organize your meals
Meal preparation is a great way to avoid extra stressors. By prepping your meals at the beginning of the week, it will give you extra free time and reduce the stress of daily cooking, says Dr. Chen.
Minimize the time spent grocery shopping by making a shopping routine and a grocery list. The healthier foods are typically on the perimeter of the store. Only go into the aisles if a particular item is on your list. Never shop on an empty stomach.
Dr. Chen recommends picking up your weekly necessities once a week and your daily produce after work. A 15-minute shopping trip sounds more manageable than a one or two hour trip. Another option might be to order groceries online and have them delivered.
Adopting these healthy habits can help bring balance to a busy schedule, better manage stressful situations and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.