Summer is over, and your motivation for that “bikini body” may be withering. With the cool weather approaching, it’s easy to slip into the comfort of complacency. Throughout my college and university career, accompanied by many desk jobs (the biggest culprit of them all) along the way, I’ve encountered and overcame some personal challenges pertaining to overall well being. Whether you’re a first-year party animal, busy grad student, or seasoned professional, here are a few ways to stay balanced, happy, and healthy:
1) Clean up your diet.
“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
Diet is first on the list for a reason: it’s the easiest to mess up. Many times too often, I’ve dragged myself to 8 a.m. classes by going to Starbucks to grab caffeine and something from the pastry case along the way. Late night shift or study session? There’s a Subway on campus and a McDonald’s on every corner. Although convenient, these foods (yes, even the veggie sub that is touted to be good for you) are essentially ruining your health. Stick to whole foods (vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats) and BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch). You’ll save your wallet, and your waistline!
2) Put a move on it.
“The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.” – Anonymous
And, as always, it’s easier said than done. Hitting the snooze button on those cold, bitter mornings of November sound much more appealing than heading out for a morning workout. Our bodies were designed to move, not stay sedentary for six to eight hours a day. Hence, why office and desk jobs are so dangerous. Although most campuses (and some lucky companies!) have on-site gyms, you don’t have to have a gym membership to stay fit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a devoted athlete, 6 a.m. spin class fanatic, or an evening jogger. Walk and catch up with a friend. Go on nature hikes with the dog. What matters is that you get your exercise in.
3) Sleep tight.
“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama
Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems. Be it caused by all-nighters, college parties, morning classes, or simply, insomnia. Whatever the reason, caffeine and sleeping pills shouldn’t be the solution. Instead, adjust your internal clock and circadian rhythm to get six to eight hours of quality shut-eye each night. I find lavender oil, pitch darkness, reading a book, and turning off all electronic devices help immensely. Learn to sleep with the moon and rise with the sun.
4) Manage your stress.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s how you carry it.” – Lou Holtz
Some stress can be effective in helping us get things done. Too much stress, however, can lead to weight gain, anxiety, depression, and a heap of other health problems. With stressful situations like deadlines, assignments, papers, meetings, interviews, and personal obligations, it’s difficult to imagine anyone not being at least a little bit stressed out. Good news — stress is definitely manageable. Some habits I practice on a daily basis to manage my stress and improve mindfulness include yoga, breathing exercises, and training my mind to be present, mindful, and still.
We all have goals and deadlines, and it’s easy to put other aspects of our lives before ourselves, but in order to be truly successful, we must remember to take at least an hour each and every day to practice simple self-care. Whether it’s a bubble bath, an evening of jazz, or a night of nothingness. It’s not about perfection; it’s about balance. By focusing on these four major pillars of health: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress, you can achieve your professional goals while being on your way to a happier and healthier you!
– Sozanny Chea
Executive Office Administration ‘12