Balancing Health And Fitness With The Demands Of The Modern Workplace
14 June 2017 |
About a 5 minute read
Trying to balance work, life, health and fitness can seem like an impossible task in today’s fast moving modern workplace. However, there are small changes that we can make to the way that we think and the habits that we form which can have a massive impact on our wellbeing and our performance both in and out of the workplace.
We can have a positive effect on our wellbeing by effectively managing our stress and our use of technology. This will prevent overstimulation of our nervous system, build up of tension, physical and mental burn out, insomnia and other adverse effects on our bodies. I have found the following ways effective in doing this:
Being aware of our 3 emotional regulation systems:
We all have a Drive system, which drives us to want to achieve and do well, but we need to balance this with our Soothing-Caring system (caring for ourselves and self-compassion) and our Threat system (anxiety, anger). In our incredibly fast paced society, people tend to put too much focus on achieving, this can lead to excess stress, anger and mental & physical illness. Whilst some pressure is good and can give us the drive to achieve amazing things, we should be aware when our Threat system becomes overactive, this is a sign that we need to give more to our Soothing-Caring system. We should give ourselves permission to spend more time looking after our wellbeing both physically and mentally. The way I like to do this is by going for walks and by exercising but this may be different for others.
Participating in stress relieving & relaxing activities:
When we exercise, our body releases dopamine which makes us happy. When we are stressed however, our body releases cortisol and adrenaline via our nervous system. When this is prolonged this can lead to health issues. Therefore, it is important that we spend time exercising and doing activities that calm our nervous system. Some examples of activities that do this include Yoga, stretching, practicing mindfulness, meditation, listening to relaxing music or taking a relaxing bath.
Taking regular breaks from the computer:
Knowing that I spend most of my days seated, I try to get up and move about at least every hour. When going to the bathroom I also try to do a few air squats and stretches to get my blood circulating, release muscular tension and increase my alertness. I have even been known to do pull-ups in the bathroom!
Avoid using tech at least 1 hour before bed:
I try to avoid using my phone and laptop at least one hour before going to bed. If I have to use my mobile phone I make sure that the night mode is enabled to filter out the blue light, which can adversely affect sleep quantity and quality. Ultimately, I try to make sure that the bedroom is a place of rest by keeping out technology as much as possible.
Early to bed & early to rise:
I try to get to bed between 10-11pm as research suggests that we get better quality sleep between the hours of 10pm and 2am. This leads to more energy and more productive mornings at work.
Making small changes to the way that we eat can result in big changes in our energy, the following are the nutritional guidelines that I try to follow to maximise my energy:
Never skip breakfast: Aim for a high energy & slow releasing breakfast such as porridge oats with seeds and fruit.
A high protein lunch: to increase alertness and to avoid the infamous afternoon slump.
Incorporate healthy snacks: to keep energy topped up such as naked bars or nuts but avoid refined sugar.
Light evening meals: for better quality sleep with protein to aid recovery from exercise.
Drink plenty of water: important for so many bodily functions, drinking water at the following times can also add extra benefits: 2 glasses on waking up to activate internal organs and 1 glass before meals to aid with digestion. 1 glass before bed to replenish levels, but avoid if it causes you to wake to use the bathroom.
Everybody knows the benefits of regular exercise but sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation when the sofa is looking so appealing and who actually wants to spend all of their free time at the gym? The following are some of the things I take into consideration to help me keep fit for life:
The negative or self-limiting self-beliefs:
I keep in mind the ones that I have about myself in regards to my health and fitness. I then look at what the actual evidence is for those beliefs that are preventing me from reaching my fitness goals, for example being too busy to exercise.
Motivation doesn’t just appear from nowhere:
Start small and build upon that. For example if you want to be more motivated when it comes to exercise start by setting yourself a 5 or 10 minute (adjust as appropriate for you) exercise rule and don’t go beyond that. See how this affects your mood and motivation over time, once this becomes a habit then increase the amount of time or workout frequency.
Focus on the workouts that offer more value and take less time:
Such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), metabolic resistance training or circuits. These types of workouts will keep the body burning calories long after the workout is over and can lead to greater fat loss, more muscle built and an increase in aerobic capacity. It also involves more work capacity and shorter or no breaks between sets which means less time in the gym and more time living!
Walk or cycle instead of using public transport when you can:
It’s a great example of functional fitness as it will get you to places whilst keeping you fit. You will also burn a few hundred extra calories over the course of a week!
Workout at a time that works for you:
You will be more likely to stick to it. I like to workout during my lunch breaks when possible so that I keep my evenings free and don’t have to get up at 5am!
Whatever you decide to do, be consistent.
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