The life of a professional is a busy one made up of a combination of demands, mini-crises, and tight schedules. Often, there just don't aren't enough hours in the day to get everything checked off of your to-do list and something always falls by the wayside to make room for your highest priorities.
For many professionals, what gets neglected all too often is your own self-care. Your job is more important, your schedule is more important, and being good to those around you becomes more important than taking care of your own physical and mental health. While your dedication is admirable and no-doubt appreciated by those around you, you can only put off self-care for so long.
Self-Care, Self-Awareness, and Work Performance
What many dedicated professionals miss is that neglecting yourself is not just about personal comfort or satisfaction (though these reasons are important enough on their own!). Failing to take care of yourself eventually takes its toll. Your physical health may flag and your emotional resilience may begin to crumble. These will, inevitably, lead to a slow decrease in your actual job performance as well.
We fully understand your desire to work hard and be the best employee you can be, but it shouldn't come at the cost of your own health and wellbeing. When you don't take the time to care for yourself, you lose perspective. You may even do things that will decrease your ability to think clearly and feel good at work during the day. You may lose sight of your own emotional state, becoming distracted or irritable at work instead of the supportive, committed professional you strive to be.
Today we want to talk about four of the most common things that busy professionals tend to neglect about themselves and how to make some quick and easy corrections. This can help make your life happier, healthier, and even more productive because you will personally feel better with every step.
Treating Your Digestion Right
Skipping breakfast is a busy professional classic mistake, as is grabbing a 'quick bite' for lunch or fast food for supper because you don't have time to cook. But this is terrible for your digestion (and your waistline). Skipping breakfast can make your body think there isn't enough food and scare it into packing on pounds 'just in case' and we don't have to tell you about the dangers of unhealthy lunches and dinners.
It only takes about 20 minutes to make a healthy stir-fry at home from chicken, chopped veg, and a few herbs. Add an automatic rice-cooker and then you've got healthy dinners and easy to microwave lunches for weeks.
As for breakfast, either spend 10 minutes scrambling an egg to eat on multigrain toast or grab a package of oat or bran muffins at the grocery store and eat one in the car on your way to work. A green smoothie made with frozen blueberries, nutrient-rich greens like kale and spinach, cucumber, yogurt, coconut milk, and ginger will let you start your day with a burst of antioxidants and energy. Simple, delicious, and no pressure on those of you with a delicate morning stomach.
Getting Your Blood Pumping
Many people don't realize this, but a sluggish circulation can cause all sorts of problems from bad moods and low energy to feeling cold all the time. But the lifestyle of a dedicated modern professional is notoriously bad for your circulation. Sitting all day, stressing out, and not drinking enough water are bad enough. But, let's face it, most of us aren't waking up early to run a mile in the morning or swinging by the gym after work. Chances are, you feel like you need every scrap of energy to remain committed to your job and home obligations.
In reality, adding even a small amount of exercise (and a lot more water) into your daily routine can work wonders. Better than coffee and miracle diets is simple circulation. Run in place for a minute in the morning and see how much more quickly you wake up. Stretch out at your desk instead of eating a snack and experience the "power-up."
Active blood matters for focus, performance, and mood because the speed of your blood flow carries oxygen to the brain. Try doing tiny amounts of exercise throughout the day even if you don't have time for a full workout routine. The difference will be surprising.
Improving Your Sleep Quality
Do you fall into bed at the end of each day as if you've just run another marathon of work and home life? A lot of professionals don't give a second thought to the state of their bedroom or quality of their sleep. Your day ends when the lights go out and your next thought doesn't start until the hot water hits your head in the morning. But the quality of your sleep does matter both for your morning mood and energy level all day long.
The first step is to clean your bedroom. No, you don't need a full HGTV makeover, but at least get all the laundry in the hamper, fold things properly into your drawers, and generally tidy until the floor and surfaces look neat. Next, wash your sheets once a week and consider alternating between 2-4 sets of sheets. Finally, put pillow and mattress assessment on your agenda. If you have regular back or neck problems, you may have been running with an old mattress for a little too long.
Don't Neglect Personal Development
Finally, don't let your focus on your current work tasks stop you from moving forward in your career. If you're good at what you do, you have every reason to seek professional development opportunities. Talk to your boss about making time for additional training and cross-training your work skills. If you want a promotion, build a concrete plan to qualify for the position and earn consideration.
Whatever you want from your next career step, don't let yourself put it off indefinitely. There are ways, both inside of work and out, to avoid getting stuck in a rut. No professional deserves to stagnate in a position when they could be advancing their career with skill and hard work.
Though you may not realize it, you will feel better about yourself and your entire attitude is likely to improve once you have an actionable path to career advancement ahead of you.
Taking care of yourself and keeping up with a busy professional life can seem like a major challenge, but it doesn't have to be. With just a few extra minutes and thoughtfulness applied to self-care each day, you can significantly improve both your quality of life and the quality of your work. When you are healthy, self-aware, and able to greet every day feeling refreshed and well taken care of, you will also be able to focus and dedicate yourself more completely to the work you value so much.
While it's alright to pull a few long shifts or snag fast food in a rush every now and then, don't let your everyday schedule or commitment to your work permanently decrease yourself-awareness or self-care.