When the going gets tough, it’s often our own health and wellbeing that takes second place to the things going on around us in order to get through that ever increasing workload.
Women are particularly prone to forgetting about themselves and putting others first (including family), in order to achieve a certain level of productivity they perceive as being acceptable to stave away the guilt of underperforming.
Unfortunately not taking care of yourself is often the beginning of a decrease in productivity – not the opposite. So perhaps it’s time to look after number one!
Diet: It’s fair to say that when we are overwhelmed, food loses its priority, or should we say ‘healthy’ food loses its priority, often being replaced with quick, convenient packaged options that are most likely high in sugar and sodium.
The problem with this food is that it contains little to no nutrient value, is very often sugar and carbohydrate heavy causing blood sugar destabilisation, energy slumps and even more cravings! This downward spiral leads to weight gain, poor energy, mood swings, an increase in PMS and often poor sleep, decreasing productivity levels exponentially despite our best efforts to keep going at the same level.
What can you do? Being prepared is key. If you foresee a busy week or month ahead, schedule in some cooking time to pre-make and freeze food, organise a food delivery service and stock up on healthy go-to snacks for the office. Being prepared means that even if you are taken by surprise in life, you have a backup list ready to help you cope that doesn’t involve endless cups of coffee.
Nutrition: When we get busier it’s so easy to forget to take supplements as we race out the door to work before dawn. This is bad, as not only are we denying ourselves the vital nutrients needed for support during these times of need, but we also might be causing our treatment plan and progress a big setback by not taking prescribed supplements at the right times. This will throw your body out of whack when it simply needs support the most.
What can you do? Set the alarm to remind yourself to take your supplements; throw any that don’t need a fridge into your handbag so you have them with you at all times, and/or buy yourself a Monday to Sunday pill container and take 5 minutes to organise yourself for the week ahead. Make sure you contact your practitioner who may tailor and tweak your plan to your increased requirements.
Exercise: While imperative to decrease the effects of stress, exercise is often forgotten about when we become super busy. Exercise not only boosts our feel-good endorphins to make us happy, improve our mood and productivity, it also energises us, gets the blood flowing to the brain and increases restful sleep.
What can you do? It may not be feasible to continue your hard-core training regime while you’re workload is so heavy and hours have increased, so instead it’s important that you fit in a short sharp workout in the morning and/or when you get home which doesn’t involve you having to get to the gym and take precious time out of your day. Doing a 15-minute circuit at home 2 x day will relieve the guilt, boost your energy and ensure you maintain fitness and tone. Aim to go for a quick lunchtime walk too to get the oxygen flowing and Vitamin D intake up, and make yourself stand up and stretch at your desk every hour!
Stress management: Stress compounds, meaning it accumulates in our bodies building on top of one stressful incident after another and changing the level of what becomes ‘normal’ for us. As the stress compounds it begins to present itself with increasing anxiety, PMS symptoms, irritability, fatigue, sleep issues, insomnia and can lead to depression. While certain levels of stress are normal to enable us to function and use adrenaline to perform tasks, long-term and prolonged stress is detrimental to our health and starts to affect our thyroid and sex hormones, causing imbalances and leading to more issues including weight gain and fertility issues.
What can you do? Adrenal fatigue is one of, if not the first area of health that needs addressing by a qualified practitioner to get you back to functioning optimally. This may include diet, exercise, supplementation, psychology and/or guided meditation. It may sound overwhelming, but once this area of health is addressed it means you are equipped to coping with whatever life throws at you!
About Your Guest Blogger: Pip Reed is a qualified, certified and registered Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Yoga-Fit instructor, with over ten years experience in the health and fitness industry. Pip specialises in women’s health, weight loss, hormone imbalances, and healthy ageing. Her fresh insights into achieving beauty both inside and out using nutrition as the basis of health and well-being are always realistic and designed to work with people’s lives. Her advice is always relevant and do-able.