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How to create a healthy, balanced life: part 2

If you started your plan after reading part 1, you should be beginning to see some differences in your work/life balance.

It can take time to adjust to a new way of thinking, but once you establish a routine and stick to it, the results come quickly.

In part 2 we’re going to look at quick interventions that really make a difference.

1) Exercise

In your schedule, identify two or three slots each week for exercise. These slots can be as little as 10-20-minutes. Plan in advance what you will do during these slots and make sure that each workout includes 5-10 minutes of high intensity training - exercise that really makes you breathe and sweat.

You will also want to do some weight bearing exercise to strengthen your muscles and bones. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get and keep fit. Here are some alternatives to consider:

  • Walking outside. This is a free and easy way to exercise. There is virtually no way to injure yourself and most people of any fitness level can do it. If you can walk outside during your lunch hour or after work, you will also get your daily requirements of vitamin D.

  • Swimming. Another great way to exercise and it’s an excellent cardio workout. Try alternating different strokes to keep your heart rate up.

  • Dancing. This can be done in the privacy of your living room, or in Salsa or ballroom class. Dancing is great for your heart and is a social activity that most people enjoy.

  • Games such as squash, tennis and netball. If you prefer to exercise with others, join a local team, or get a partner to play with you in the local leisure centre. You’ll burn calories and having fun with friends or associates.

  • Yoga. There are many benefits of yoga including: lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, releasing endorphins and generally making you feel more relaxed and less stressed.

2) Healthy Eating

Make sure your schedule guides you to eat every 2.5 - 3 hours. Plan what you will eat at each of these times ensuring the portion size is appropriate for each meal or snack.

Also make sure you have what you need to prepare your meals; this will include some shopping for home or for food supplies at the office. Here are some quick tips to help you prepare:

  • Plan a menu for the week and stick to it as much as you can. This will help you choose from a variety of meals so you don’t get bored with the same thing, and it will encourage you to avoid the temptation of fast food

  • Make your lunches the night before work, or first thing in the morning. This just saves time and leaves you more time to have a proper lunch break.

  • Take a variety of fruits and healthy snacks to keep you going throughout the day. You don’t want your blood sugar levels to drop because you’re hungry.

  • Avoid office snacks such as cakes and sweets. If you want to treat yourself once in a while, that’s ok, but don’t over indulge.

  • Beware of hidden sugars and calories in low fat foods. Start reading food labels so you know exactly what you are eating.

3) Sleep

Establish a regular bedtime and then work out a routine for the evening that will ensure you are able to go to bed and fall asleep at your designated time. You should know at what time of the evening you turn off the TV, computer, phone etc. in order to wind down in time to sleep well. If you are ‘wired’ right until bedtime, you will find it difficult to unwind and get yourself ready for a restful sleep. Here are some tips to help you get your zzz’s.

  • Keep your tv and computer out of the bedroom, or at least limit their use at bedtime. This is your sanctuary so make it as quiet and peaceful as possible.

  • During the week, try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but if you aim for an uninterrupted 6 - 8 hours, then you are more likely to wake refreshed and ready to take on the day.

  • Limit alcohol in the evening. Excessive drinking can knock you out, but you will also wake up in the early hours feeling groggy and disoriented.

  • Read or meditate to help you relax before bedtime.

Looking after your physical health is crucial if you want to cope with day to day stress and strain. Once you feel better about yourself, you will have the energy and enthusiasm to manage a busy schedule without getting easily depleted.

Read part 3 here.


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