written by Makenzie Farone
As a young professional, I realize how much stress it can put on a person. Young professionals have to be smarter, faster and more technologically savvy than their older and more established counterparts. This constant running pace in order to get ahead can be exhausting! Most people start to see the effects of a busy professional lifestyle between the ages of 20 and 25. It is at this time that we have to prioritize what is most important to us and spend our time accordingly. Unfortunately, one of the aspects of our lives that usually gets pushed to the back burner is the focus on our health and fitness.
My senior year of college was filled with a part time job, an internship, 18 credit course load, and the search for an amazing job after graduation. All of these activities were time consuming and stressful; they left me very little free time, and that year took its toll. Young people dealing with the stress of their first professional job or final year of college/ job hunt, can really lose track of their health and that can have severe consequences. These consequences include weight gain, fatigue, diabetes, improper body function, stress headaches, and insomnia. So how can the young professional fight this early twenties slump and get on the right path for lifetime health?
Simple. Health and fitness need to become and remain an important aspect of your life. While you may think that getting up to go to for a walk in the mornings or stopping off at an aerobics class after work might be more than your body can handle, it will help you in the long run. People who get the proper nutrition and exercise on a daily basis can more easily concentrate on their daily tasks, have more energy in the mornings and throughout the day, have a better outlet for stress and have less health problems that may cause the need to take the day off.
How do you incorporate healthy habits into your day?
Start by taking small steps in the right direction. First, it is important to sit down and truly look at your schedule to decide what times of the day you have time to eat, exercise and relax. Having a schedule can help you feel more in control of your day and reduce stress. Once you have had a chance to look at your daily schedule and see where you have the ability to take some time, fill the small pockets in your day with snacks! I have found that packing my lunch everyday has saved me money, time and a few extra calories I didn't need. It is important to have lasting energy throughout your work day to remain efficient, and this is the reason why you should always make sure to have 5-6 small meals/snacks a day that consist of between 200-300 calories each. Keep 100 calorie packs of almonds in your desk as a mid morning snack, pack a whole grain turkey sandwich for your lunch break with fruit and a salad.. Make sure that you have healthy snacks within your reach at all times to keep your energy up and your metabolism going even while you're sitting at a desk.
Eating for Energy
One of the pitfalls of the professional job is the bane of healthy eating existence, receptionists desk, all of these things can be hard to resist but you have to realize that they will cause your blood sugar to spike and make you crash later. You don't want to fall asleep at your keyboard do you? If you are able to arm yourself with healthy snacks and be consistently eating through out the day, you will find it's much easier to resist these sugar/carb filled temptations that the office world supplies. Also, take a look at your morning cup of Joe. Do you fill your office mug with sugar in an attempt to get an energy boost? Or please tell me you don't drink those sugar filled energy drinks! A filling and healthy breakfast containing protein and whole grains is essential to your day and will give you that energy boost you are looking for. You will be able to sustain it well into the morning's meetings.
Add in Some Fitness Exercise
The next step after you have mastered the eating for energy aspect of health is to try to incorporate fitness wherever you can. We know that exercise is important for your health. Exercise is an amazing stress reliever, and it can really help to reduce headaches, increase energy and make you feel good when you head home. Of course, some of the best ways to get exercise are to be able to get outside and run or walk, maybe join a gym. Unfortunately, not every person has the schedule, money or luxury to be able to join a gym. So how do you exercise on both a time and money budget? Well, try to use your lunch break as a reason to get some exercise! If you get an hour break, try and take the first 30 minutes to get outside and walk around the block a few times or maybe walk the stairs in your building. Adding just a few flights of stairs instead of the elevator can really add up to some serious exercise. I also recommend for the super stressed that you look into a yoga class. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress, at the end of a long day.
I always try to tell people to look for exercise wherever they can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from your building so that it's a longer walk to get in, or buy some hand weights and take 3 minutes every hour to do some easy resistance exercises while you're sitting and staring at your computer. Remember also that it's important to ask questions. Most corporate employers will offer discounts on gym memberships or maybe they have a health and wellness group you could join. Would they be interested in offering a lunch time yoga or aerobics class? Most places will tell you "yes," because there are many studies that prove that midday exercises in the work place makes employees happier, more alert and more efficient.
Make Some Time for Yourself
Always remember to take at least 30 minutes out of your day to do something for yourself. This is a great example for relieving the tension you are feeling. You spend your entire day pushing to get work finished for your boss, coworkers and the company, but remember to take time for your own health and wellness. Even taking 30 minutes a day to relax can do wonders for your state of mind and energy. I know that you may be tired after a long day's work, but get out there and head to that gym because you will feel ten times better afterwards. Keep in mind that one healthy action can start a snowball of others. Going to the gym after work will help you sleep better at night which in turn will give you more energy, and you will produce better and faster work. Remember that the young professional has the advantage of being more savvy and quick in the workplace. Do not let yourself fall behind by not staying at the top of your game in every aspect of your life. You already try your hardest to stay on top at work. Isn't it time you tried your best to stay in top shape also?