How to Remain Healthy with a Full-Time Schedule

See also: Avoiding Burnout

They're seriously just aren't enough hours in the day!

Between work, kids, and everything else on your plate, it’s easy for your health to fall by the wayside. Who has time to cook a four-course dinner when you’re shuttling the kids to soccer practice after working overtime every day this week?

The drive-thru it is, just like last week. Just like next week is sure to be.

While you may have the best intentions, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all your daily responsibilities.

It’s all you can do to remember to shove some food in your face during your lunch break. Can you reasonably be expected to pick daintily at a salad when you’ve got other things to worry about?

And don’t even get started on exercise. You’re running around like a headless chicken – isn’t that a workout enough?

The thing is, while you may not be giving your health much thought, you could be inadvertently putting yourself at risk. A poor diet, lack of sleep, and zero fitness can quickly spell disaster for your wellbeing.

If you’re struggling to maintain balance, as well as your waistline, then you may need to take a harder look at your lifestyle.

Hack Your Diet

Most people aren’t getting their recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Ideally, you should shoot for a minimum of 3 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit per day.

You need to eat a whole rainbow of foods: bright red cherries, vibrant green kale, sunny orange carrots. On the other hand, you must avoid too many beige foods in your diet.

Look, you can buy all the fruits and veggies you like at the store but, if you don’t eat them, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Instead, you need to find ways to make healthy eating easier. If the thought of chopping veggies is too tedious for you, there’s no shame in buying pre-cut produce.

Meal prepping can go a long way in streamlining a healthy diet, too. You can easily add a few easy weight loss recipes to your mealtime rotation.

Prepare overnight oats (spicing them up with cinnamon, honey, and raisins) to stick in your refrigerator for a tasty grab-and-go option.

For a savory option, make a large batch of egg souffle muffins to pair with fresh fruit for breakfast.

Lunch can be as easy as whipping up a large batch of chicken salad to serve on crisp romaine leaves. (Hint: Sub in Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and add diced celery and apples to it.)

Or, you can make a large pot of vegetable soup and pre-portion it in smaller containers.

Dinner can be on the table in as little as twenty minutes if you have the right recipes up your sleeve.

Fresh shrimp can be searing on the stovetop while whole-grain couscous cooks up. Add a fresh mango salsa or side salad, and you’re set.

Or, for a vegetarian option, reach for whole-grain angel hair pasta (which cooks in just five minutes!) and pair it with sautéed zucchini, spinach, and crushed tomatoes. For extra flavor, don’t skimp on the garlic.

Finally, please remember that if you don’t like eating something, don’t feel like you have to bring it home. Stick with the foods you like.

As long as they’re nutritious, anything goes!

Make Exercise Fun Again

To stay healthy, you need to exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week.

Be honest: Are you actually getting those recommended amounts of movement each week? If you break it down, it’s a scant 20-ish minutes per day. Easy peasy, right?

Um. No. Especially if you’re coming home from work, exhausted, and want nothing more than to sink into your couch.

Look, exercise doesn’t have to be awful. It doesn’t have to be boring, and it certainly doesn’t have to hurt.

The best fitness program is one you’ll actually stick to. So, if you hate running, why waste your money (and time) on a treadmill?

Instead, try to find activities that you’ll love. Get into kickboxing. Dabble in yoga. Join a local walking group.

Are you struggling with motivation? Enlist your friends to join you. Make your gym part of your community.

After all, the health benefits of regular exercise are numerous. People who work out regularly have a much lower chance of developing obesity, cancer, and depression.

All of that, for just 150 minutes of movement per week. Don’t you think that’s worth it?

Get Your Shuteye

Most adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. Even better, you should aim for closer to nine hours.

Sure, that sounds all fine and dandy on paper. You’d probably love to get at least seven hours of sleep. It’s not like you’re deliberately depriving yourself of a good night’s rest.

Realistically, though, getting plenty of sleep is much easier said than done.

Not getting enough sleep can be very hazardous to your health. Inadequate sleep can lead to serious health concerns like heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.

It’s hard to ensure you’re getting ample sleep. That said, there are a few things you can do to help improve your chances of getting enough rest tonight.

Going on a "blue light diet" (turning off all blue-light emitting devices) in your home a half-hour before bedtime may help you sleep better.

Blue light is everywhere. LEDs. Your smartphone. Computer screens. And all of that light? It could be keeping you awake at night.

You also need to start a bedtime routine. This can signal to your body that it’s time to unwind and relax.

Treat yourself to some gentle pampering. Before bedtime, wash your face and groom yourself. Slip into some cozy pj's. Pour yourself some chamomile tea.

Blackout curtains and earplugs are your friends, too. If you can’t sleep with earplugs, a white-noise machine can help you sleep better.

Sure, it seems like an awful lot of work just to help you nod off at night. But with all the dangers of insomnia, it’s absolutely worth it.

Find Ways to Decompress

Stress can be a silent killer. If left unchecked, it can cause a host of severe health complications.

At the bare minimum, it can cause acne breakouts and poor mood. At the worst? It can be lethal.

That’s why it’s so important to find healthy ways to manage your stress.

People who are stressed out are more likely to engage in unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking. Over time, ongoing abuse of your body can also lead to problems like heart attack, lung cancer, liver failure, and death.

If you’re struggling with stress in your daily life, try to find new ways to manage it.

Talk to your friends. Get therapy with a trained professional. Take up a sport to blow off steam. Learn how to knit.

Avoid the temptation of falling into bad habits, as they can make it worse.

While stress isn’t something you can choose to avoid, you can choose how you deal with it.

Redefine Health

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of social media.

Seeing fitness and weight loss gurus showing off their killer physique can easily inspire you – or discourage you.

Your version of health isn’t their version of health. You need to find something that works well for you. Your lifestyle. Your body.

Start small. Try one or two new things per week. Don’t overwhelm yourself or tempt burnout by taking on too much at once.

In time, you may find yourself enjoying subtle changes. You’re less tired. You’re happier. Your skin looks clearer.

And then? You’ll realize it. You have found the version of health that works best for you.

You'll be thankful that you started when you did. Your healthy future is waiting, so what are you waiting for?

You’ve got this.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Life

The Skills You Need Guide to Life

This two-part guide is an easy-to-read summary of the essential skills you need for a healthy mind and body.

The first eBook, Looking After Yourself, covers some of our most popular content and will help you to live a happier, healthier and more productive life.

The second eBook, Living Well, Living Ethically, considers how you can live your best life all the time. It helps you to answer the question: how can I avoid having too many regrets about my life?

About the Author

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 6 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge.

In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.