The end of summer signals a time of transition for many: a return to school, the end of summer travels and backyard parties, and the shift to the fall season. It is an ideal opportunity to reflect and refocus, creating habits that set everyone in your family up for success, health and wellbeing. Here are some specific, easy ideas that you can implement today.
Good rest, good food and good body mechanics go a long way in shaping your day-to-day experience. Here are a few easy tips to build into your routine.
- Plan meals and snacks ahead of time – Invest time on the weekend to shop and prepare healthy meals or snacks you can bring to work or toss in the kids’ backpacks. Having them on hand will make it easier to avoid less healthy choices like candy, soda, and highly processed foods. There is solid science behind cutting soda out of your diet entirely. Find out how quitting soda can improve your health.
- Take a break – Research clearly shows that taking breaks actually increases productivity. Getting up from your desk and standing every 30-60 minutes can help refresh your mind and focus, improve muscle tone, circulation and metabolism, and help avoid what’s now being called “sitting disease.” Take a few minutes to walk, stretch, connect with your co-workers or, if you work from home, pet the dog! JustStand.org has lots of info on becoming less sedentary.
- Wellness programs – If you work in an office, does your office offer a wellness program? See what’s available to help with exercise, healthier eating, weight loss, stress reduction, mindfulness and more. It’s that much easier to use the program if there’s a gym on-site or access to health coaches.
What actions can you take to lower stress? If there is too much on your plate, take a hard look at what you can step away from to reduce your load. No one can do it all without sacrificing something. What are you sacrificing and is it worth it?
- Complaining – It can be a relief to complain, vent, blow off steam, and from time to time it’s necessary. Done too frequently, or as your default, just keeps you focused on what’s going wrong. It can also cause you to miss everything that’s going right! New information shows that it may also be affecting your health by damaging the brain and boosting stress hormones. Decide instead to raise your awareness: simply noticing when you start to complain. Can you turn it around and consider how to improve a situation, make a positive difference or be a contributor to change? Just noticing the pattern and reframing the thought will help you accomplish more and feel better.
- Breathing exercises – Take a minute or less to slow and deepen your breathing, learn a quick breathing exercise or simply close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Sending oxygen to your brain, slowing your heart rate and letting your mind rest for a moment can clear your thoughts, improve focus and reduce stress levels in your body. Deep breathing is an easy, effective, free way to calibrate at the start of the day, or recalibrate when you get back from lunch or after a really stressful meeting. Here are 6 easy breathing exercises to try.
Your environment always wins. You may have heard this before. Have you noticed how different you feel at work in an office versus walking on a beach or relaxing in your home? Create an environment that supports your wellbeing as much as possible. At work, your ability to change your workstation or office may be limited, but you do have the power to bring food that will support your health, choose water over soda or coffee, and take brisk walks during your breaks.
- Time and Routines – Create a morning routine, or schedule, that prepares you to get the most out of your day. Go to bed at the right time to give yourself a full night’s sleep. Know when you need to get up to complete your routine in time to leave for work or start at the home office. What should be done the evening before because it won’t fit into the morning? Would an end-of-workday routine help create success for you the next day? Use the last 15 minutes of the day to map out the next day’s priorities, make some or all of your lunch, prep your snacks or choose your outfit for the next day.
- Work space – I feel the best working when my desk is organized and fairly clean. Even though I have long to-do lists, if there’s less clutter it’s easier to get things done. Consider investing a half hour each week for filing and straightening up your workspace. Schedule a block of time for it on your calendar and show up for yourself just as consistently as you would for any other meeting. You might prefer to do your organizing a little bit at a time as part of your end-of-workday routine.
I encourage you to start with any ideas on this list that sound or feel good to you. Begin with one or two and add more as you go. Small changes can make a big difference!