Monday, June 23, 2014

Staying on Top of Your Health with a Busy Schedule

It's no secret that my life has been constantly hectic since I started graduate school last fall. I recently had a revelation that when June Orientation comes to a close this upcoming Friday, I will be enjoying my first break from everything school and work related (even including winter break, as I was required to do preparatory work for a class) in almost a full year. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with that sort of free time, but I can tell you that I am PUMPED.

I try to make staying healthy one of my top priorities, because if I'm not healthy, nothing else in my life would be able to get done. I pay close attention to how my body's feeling and make sure that it's getting the right attention it needs, especially if I do start to feel something coming on or everyone around me seems to be getting sick. Despite how busy I've been, I've been lucky enough to not have had any serious sickness knock me out from attending class, doing what was expected of me at work, and generally getting in the way of living my life (save for a few migraines and a small cold that I came down with over winter break).

I thought that I'd share a few of the tips and tricks that work for me in order to fend off the sickies, and hopefully you all can use them to help you out when your life gets busy!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

This one seems obvious, but it's true. If you're starting to feel sick (you know that feeling you get in your face/throat when you feel a cold coming on?) amp up the water intake. Hydrating your body can be annoying as hell because you're forced to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes, but doing so is helping your body expel all of that gross bacteria it's trying to fight off. You're actually doing yourself a huge favor, and you'll likely wake up the next day feeling better for it. Keep on hydrating!

Cut down the caffeine intake.

This is hard to do, especially when you're working extremely long unconventional hours, but coffee and soda actually dehydrate your body and make it harder for your immune system to fight off sickness. If you are starting to feel that "omigod am I sick? I feel sick, I must be getting sick" panic, try and cut back on the caffeination and trade it in for water or something rich in vitamins. If you're really feeling sluggish, trade your coffee in for something high in vitamin C, which actually makes your body more awake and alert in a natural way!

Have something healthy to snack on in your bag.

I try to make sure I'm eating one or two raw foods a day when my schedule gets busy, like an apple, banana, baby carrots, etc., and I find that if it's right there in my bag, I'm more likely to eat it than if I have to go out of my way to buy something in the moment. If I can't get my hands on the real thing, I usually snag a Naked smoothie or something similar. Unfortunately, they're pretty high in sugar (I'm unsure if it's the natural sugars from the juices or otherwise), but they're also packed with vitamins so I do tend to feel a difference if I drink one of them. Oooor it may be a placebo effect, but as long as you're feeling better, right?

Make sure you're getting a good sweat regularly.

Another way to get yucky sickness bugs out of your system is to sweat them out. When my schedule really ramps up, I try to make it a point to work out at least once a week. I have to be more intentional about the timing of my work out (if I'll have time to shower after, if my body will benefit more from a good night's sleep than a workout at 10pm, etc.) but I really do strive to make sure that I'm not letting too many days go by without some at-home yoga, strength training, or maybe even an early morning run (if I'm lucky/motivated enough).

Set boundaries.

I do have my work email on my phone, and one of my jobs even requires my attention after-hours, but on the nights I do have off, I make sure that work is not on my mind. It's unfair to my mental health to be checking up on and worrying about work-related issues when I already devote my whole day to it. Yes, it's important to stay on top of things, but when I have my evenings and weekends off, it's more important that I am taking care of the things that are important to me in my own life instead of worrying about things that can wait until the morning. So when I'm cuddled up in my bed watching Netflix and eating pizza, I make it a point to make sure the work email stays unread.

Actually sleep!

This also seems like a no brainer, but once I get home from a long day of work and class, I'm totally wired, even if I've been exhausted all day. I find myself wanting to do all the things I've been wanting to do all day but couldn't because I was working or in class: binging on TV or Netflix, reading my book for hours when it just got to the really good part, or catching up with an old hobby that I haven't even thought of in 3 years. You know, just anything besides sleep. However, in order for your body to really recharge, you've got to get some quality shut-eye. I find as soon as all the lights are off and I just let myself relax, I pass out in a matter of 10 minutes. Unfortunately I don't allow myself as much sleep as I'd like, but I always make sure I at least get 5-6 hours each night (which may not seem like much, but it's enough for me to function on, haha).


I hope you guys find these tips helpful in your busy lives. Remember that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anything else. Make your health a priority and you will feel better in every other aspect of your life!

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