So this is a hot potato in the current climate, because of how COVID-19 has affected our working lives.
It is a problem I see all too often however in my own professional life when I am coaching business leaders and busy professionals to better bodies.
That is the trade-off between WORK and HEALTH.
The common issue I see time and time again, is people sacrificing their health to put more priority into their work, and the common trends include:
People are sacrificing their health to put more priority into their work
- Working long hours
- Accepting stress as ‘the norm’
- Huge amounts of caffeine
- Lack of hydration
- Poor nutrition with snacks ‘on the go’
- Very little movement (let alone exercise)
- ‘Unwind’ with alcohol
- Neglecting sleep
This is compounded with them collapsing on the couch after a hard day in the office only to zone out in front of the television with high calorie snacks because they’ve ‘earned it’!?
We need to flip this thinking.
I’m sure everyone reading this can relate to some (if not all) of the above. It’s normal, I’ve been there too but I realised it was affecting too many aspects of my life that I wasn’t aware of.
- Long hours mean there is little going on in our lives outside work.
Are we living to work or working to live?
- Stress affects our hormones, which affect everything!
Hormones control everything from appetite to mood to energy. Do you find yourself being short with the kids, struggling to concentrate, or drifting off in conversations?…. that’s stress
- Caffeine negatively affects our sleep which is what helps us recover
If you are drinking large amounts of coffee or drinking it well into the afternoon your sleep will be affected, meaning you aren’t recharging properly and each morning you are waking up more stressed and essentially unhealthier.
- Water is required by our cells to work properly and proper nutrition provides the nutrients needed for our bodies to function effectively.
Highly processed snacks and takeaways that are wolfed down have very little nutritional value and actually create more digestive stress than whole foods, adding to all the other stressors that are compounding in a busy lifestyle.
How many of us have actually considered these factors, and the potential ramifications of ignoring them while chasing work goals?
The message I push to get across to my clients is when we take better care of our health, it will actually complement our work.
- They will be more productive – getting more done in a shorter time
- They will have more energy and motivation
- They will have a better mood so they’re nicer to be around
- They won’t be self-conscious about how they look (again improving mood and confidence)
- They will spend less time ill or ‘off sick’
These have all been reported to me from clients, and all it takes is a small shift in thinking to focus more on the vessel that will get us to our desired result, than purely the result without a strategy.
Health is something we usually treat as an afterthought until it breaks, and then it is often too late. A few small changes can change your health and functionality immeasurably.
You can’t pour from an empty vessel. Running yourself into the ground to chase undefined work goals means there will come a point of diminishing returns, and seriously diminishing health.
You will look worse, feel worse, function worse. Where is the enjoyment in that?
One of my favourite quotes on this is from the Dalai Lama, as when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
A few tips I push to busy professionals I work with:
- Allocate 30 minutes exercise time per day of what you enjoy (yes, you do have 30 minutes available for this!)
- Take phone calls walking where possible
- Ensure each meal contains protein and at least 1 fruit or green vegetable
- No coffee after 3pm
- Stretch for 10 minutes every day.
- Try to replace driving with walking/cycling where possible.
- Stand more than sit.
Give them a go and see how you get on.