We are so busy being busy we approach the day with a vengeance. Today is not a marathon; it’s an Ironman triathlon. To stay ahead we cut corners: skip breakfast; work through lunch; eat frozen dinner while glued to a digital screen. And we wonder why we are tired (but can’t sleep), sickly (yet can’t quite pinpoint the malady), and unfulfilled (in spite of the sacrifices, things are still not coming together).
There are a few old-school interventions that can help to get your head back in the game:
- Salute the sun.
Basically, stretch. Yes, there are yoga poses you can practice, but there is no need to stress over downward dog first thing in the morning. Start with simple stretching exercises: forward, backward, sideward bends and then graduate to traditional yoga. Yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years and its medicinal benefits include increased flexibility, strength, and awareness; improved respiration, energy, and vitality; and maintenance of a balanced metabolism. Five minutes minimally gets the blood flowing while in a meditative state.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast.
You need to feed your metabolism, get your mind right, and steady your stride. Medical studies link skipping breakfast with an increase in obesity and diabetes risks. No matter how wiped out you are at night, prepare your breakfast, at least in your mind. It’s sort of like laying out your clothes at night: it’s a timesaver and it anchors your morning.
- Brown-bag it.
It’s easier to find healthy meal options around the workplace than a healthy snack. Think about the vending machine – right! Make your own energy mix with your favorite nuts and seeds. It likely will be healthier even than energy and fiber bars, which can have an excess of carbohydrates, sodium and sugar.
- Keep moving.
Walk where possible; stand when you can. Movement research by Dr. James Levine (as reported in the New York Times) shows that walking around the office for two minutes three times an hour is beneficial.
- Make dinner an event.
You’ve made it through another day; that’s cause for celebration. Evening meals are an excellent time to reconnect, rejuvenate, and relax. Focus on the event. Make the planning, preparation, and presentation a family affair. Savor the offering. Talk to each other, not avatars.
If you’re single, schedule regular dinners with friends and join groups that host “foodie” outings. Ensure most of your meal includes nutrient-dense foods that let you accomplish more with less. Avoid sugar and empty calories and instead focus on making sure each meal packs as much punch as possible.
- Downtime before bedtime.
Take time to unwind before going to sleep. Do whatever works (read, listen, chant, sex) to rid all the stress of the day, so you can settle into a good night of sleep. You need sleep as much as you need to breathe and eat. While you’re sleeping, your body is busy tending to your physical and mental health and getting you ready for another day. When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain can’t function properly, affecting your cognitive abilities and emotional state. If it continues long enough, it can lower your body’s defenses, putting you at risk of developing chronic illness such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Throughout the day, laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Laughter is the best coping mechanism. If you can laugh at the past, you are already over it. If you laugh at yourself, you have accepted and forgiven yourself. If you can laugh at the situation, you recognize its absurdity. If you are laughing now, you have peace.
There you have it. Even if you pick and choose what you can realistically and consistently do every day, you are sure to feel the benefits, which in turn will inspire you to go full throttle to make the most of every day.
Stretching photo available from Shutterstock