If you are like me, you work a lot. And hopefully you love what you do.
This is one of the greatest gifts in life; to love your work. It is amazing to wake up in the morning and feel energized by the day, and for your mind to be racing with new ideas and inspiration!
Even if you are not quite at that level of excitement for your work, you most likely want to be at your best every day as you tackle challenges and enjoy life.
Contrary to what it looks like in our society, it IS POSSIBLE, to be full of energy, to progress through your day with a positive and lighthearted attitude, and to have a clear and focused mind.
If you are experiencing anything short of this, AND you want a successful career while maintaining your health, you have some work to do.
And that is okay, there is always room for improvement for all of us and to strive for perfection is a futile endeavor anyway.
But I would love for you to recognize the importance of striving to be better. Just like in your career, where you don’t want to be stagnate, your body and your health are calling out for you to do better and be better. Isn’t that what makes it so exciting?
And also know that when you do wake up energized, your mood is calm and positive all day, and your mind is clear and sharp, you can get a lot of shit done! Who doesn’t want this?
The path to high productivity, holistic health, and deep satisfaction in your life and career is paved with self-care. There really is no way around it.
However, please do not get so caught up in being badass that you forget to chill out, relax, laugh a bit, spend time with family, and friends, and just have some fun. (hint: THIS is part of self-care, okay?)
So, here are my top 8 tips for staying healthy, boosting energy and mental clarity, maximizing productivity, AND not getting too stressed or obsessed.
I strongly urge you to pick ONE and ONLY ONE of the following things that you are going to change. Choose the ONE that you think you CAN do first. Don’t worry about tackling the one thing that is the hardest first. Success breeds success so start with what’s doable and build on that.
Then work on it, get really, really good at it for 6 weeks or more, and then come back and start another. If you try to change several things at once, you are most likely destined to fail.
And please remember that although it may SEEM like doing these things is going to take away from your work and make the “to do” list even longer, it actually will increase your productivity. The more well-nourished, relaxed, energized, focused, calm, and happy you are, the better your work will be.
8 Top Tips for Maximizing Your Health While Working Your Butt Off
1. GO TO SLEEP.
I don’t think it’s possible to over-emphasize this point. If you are not getting enough sleep and/or not sleeping well, you are never going to be at your best. It will make you tired, cranky, hungry, and pessimistic. That’s not going to help you achieve excellence, now is it?
Quick Guidelines: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This has been shown to be the ideal amount for adult humans (younger than 65)1. BUT make sure you are getting to sleep before 11 PM. Stick with the circadian rhythm of the earth and you will feel a whole lot more energized in the day.
2. EAT MORE VEGGIES.
In my 7 years of experience as a nutritionist, I have only met 2 people that were eating enough veggies. And I work with some pretty sophisticated clients. Whatever you are eating now, eat more. Aim for 15-20 servings of veggies per day.
Quick Guidelines: Vegetable juice is a quick and easy way to pack in the veggies. If you don’t have a juicer that’s okay. Start by buying organic juice at a juice bar and see how you like it. Daily vegetable juice will change your life. It can boost your energy, support your immune system, improve mental clarity, make your skin deliciously smooth and soft, and may even give you great BMs. Get more info on veggie juice here.
If this seems a bit overwhelming, start by increasing veggie intake by 2 servings per day (1 serving =1/2 cup or 1 cup for raw leafy greens) for 2 weeks, then again, 2 additional servings per day for 2 weeks, and so on. After 6 weeks you’ll be eating 6 more servings of veggies every day and this is important because veggies are super foods!!
3. DRINK MINERALS.
I’m not sure why, but minerals are a much-neglected topic in health circles. If you eat a normal American diet (even if you consider your diet pretty healthy), you most likely are low in one or more of the minerals. Minerals are essential for literally thousands of reactions in our body, all day long. For example, you need iron to make energy and to make serotonin and dopamine. And you need iodine, zinc, selenium, and iron to have a healthy metabolism (to name a few).
Quick Guidelines: Add liquid minerals to your daily water (and for god’s sake, please STOP drinking out of plastic bottles!!). You should be drinking a good amount of water each day, about half your weight in ounces (so if you weight 150 lbs you will need about 75 ounces of water per day). Measure that water out in the AM, add your liquid minerals and drink it throughout the day (get a few glass water bottles to bring with you, yes, they’re heavy but you’re strong). I use Concentrace drops. And BodyBio has some great drops as well.
4. GET UP AND MOVE, A LOT.
We are meant to move. When we sit all day, we start to get old and crochety. There are enormous benefits to be gained from being physically active. These include: increased energy2, better brain health3, improved sleep quality4, better mood,5,6, and less stress7. Yeah and the list of benefits for your cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, and weight (body composition) is even longer.
Quick Guidelines: There are at least two aspects to this; exercise and being physically active. You can have one without the other, but in our modern world, most of us need both. Even if you are on your feet all day, you could probably benefit from some strength training and some targeted cardio training. And if you are sitting all day, make an effort to get up for 3 minute or more, every hour to move around (do some squats and lunges, walk up some stairs, step outside, etc). Set your TIMER!
So, get to the gym, enjoy daily walks, take frequent breaks from your chair, and in general make an effort to move more, and start seeing your energy and productivity RISE!
5. BATHE IN A FOREST (or at least some woods).
Next chance you get, go out into the woods, look around, hear the sounds, take long deep breaths, and enjoy the beautiful sights of nature. Forest bathing is a REAL thing. I personally enjoy hiking and I find that spending a few hours in the woods dramatically increases my creative thinking and my energy, and gives my mood a huge boost.
Quick Guidelines: Aim to get at least 1-2 hours a week in nature surrounded by tress. The ocean is also an amazing place to be in nature so if you can do that too, go for it. But there are particular reasons why being amongst trees is so powerful. If you need to travel to get to nature, then do it, make this a priority in your life and see your creative mind flourish (especially if you can spend some of the time alone in silent contemplation).
6. TAKE “ME” TIME.
Oh, this is a biggie! If you are an entrepreneur or deeply passionate about your work, you can really tend to forget about numero uno. I think part of this is because we love our work. And when we love our work we get lots and lots of satisfaction every day. So….we don’t necessarily feel the need to take “me” time. The problem is that we need to take some “me” time that is separate from our passion and our business. There is more to you than just your work.
Quick Guidelines: Set aside time to do little things that you enjoy such as going to a spa, reading a novel, going to the movies, chatting with your neighbors, taking a walk, window shopping, or whatever floats your boat. This should be done DAILY! Yes, I said it, DAILY! It doesn’t have to be a big production. Even just 1 hour of your day, just for you. How indulgent it seems. And how necessary it is to stay refreshed, focused, and creative when you are doing your work.
7. TAKE MINDFUL TIME.
What I mean to say is “meditate” but that word sounds intimidating or foreign for a lot of people. How about thinking of it this way? Take 5 minutes twice a day to sit quietly and notice your thoughts. Sound a bit easier?
And if you think you are too busy to meditate read this Harvard Business Review article.
And just in case you are skeptical about it actually being useful for you: meditation reduces anxiety8, alleviates stress9, increases attention span10, improves sleep11, enhances cognition12, and even makes you nicer to yourself and others13.
8. HAVE SOME FUN FOR DARN SAKE.
Do I really have to list this one? Ah, yes, because we sometimes get so caught up in our work, in life, in deadlines, in stress, in the kids, the house, even the dog, that we forget to have us a good time. But it is sooooooo important!
And when I say have fun I’m not just talking about the kind that comes along with a bottle of tequila. I’m talking about levity and lightness throughout the day. Yes, we are all doing serious, important work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about it and have fun. I work with some people that are very, very ill, and have been for a long time, but somehow they can still laugh and smile.
Let’s stop taking ourselves so seriously and enjoy our time here. Seriously, life is short and every day we wake up and are still ABLE to do our work we should be filled with awe at the human body, love for everyone around us, and amusement at all the little wonderful moments we are blessed with. (okay, I’m getting off my soapbox now)
If you are wondering why a nutritionist would have 6 out of 8 top tips have nothing to do with food, you are very astute. The reason I have done this is that these things are more important than food! Yes, food is very important and I could list about 20 other things you could do with your diet to maximize your performance, energy, and mental focus, but if you are not doing these other things, you are going to be out of balance dude!
Don’t worry if you are not perfect! These are all great habits that we can adopt over time. Just start with ONE and work on it. The difference between one person that eats well, sleeps well, meditates, works out, spends “me” time, and does forest bathing and another person that doesn’t, is simply a PILE OF GOOD HABITS! So, if you want to be better and do better then start with one and build on that success, and soon you too will have your own pile of awesome habits.
- National Sleep Foundation: Sleep Duration Recommendations
- A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue.
- Exercise Builds Brain Health: Key Roles of Growth Factor Cascades and Inflammation
- The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review.
- Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety
- Influence of Exercise Intensity for Improving Depressed Mood in Depression: A Dose-Response Study.
- Exercising to relax: How does exercise reduce stress? Surprising answers to this question and more.
- Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
- Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Mindfulness meditation for insomnia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
- Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training
- Effect of kindness-based meditation on health and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.