With school back in session and the holidays just a few weeks off, it’s going to get busy. When you can’t take a vacation, but you’re putting in 12 to 18-hour days, you have to think about taking care of yourself.
Difficult weeks are going to happen. You may not be able to stop the chaos, but you can take steps to stay physically healthy and emotionally strong.
1. Plan your meals
Don’t microplan every meal, but have ingredients in your fridge that can be turned into a healthy dinner. Buy bagged salads, a rotisserie chicken, or even frozen meals to make eating less stressful and healthier than burgers and fries. If you do go out, choose healthier options, grilled or broiled meat instead of deep-fried and fresh vegetables instead of French fries.
2. Take breaks
Get away from your desk during lunch. Trust me, you’ll come back from the break reenergized and ready to power through the afternoon. If you’re pulling a long day, take an evening break too. Leave work at the office. It will still be there tomorrow, and you may even have fresh ideas on how to be more productive when you pull yourself away.
3. Get sleep
Make your bedroom comfortable and soothing to get a good night’s rest. Don’t lay awake thinking about your next day’s work. If you can’t sleep, figure out why and make changes.
4. Make sure you stay hydrated
It sounds simple, but a lot of adults forget that water is essential to your health. Go easy on sugary drinks, which can give you a burst of energy but then cause you to crash when the sugar is gone. You may also want to limit caffeine when you’re in overwork mode.
5. Take time to unwind
Find a way to transition from work to home, whether it’s an hour of mindless TV drama, a game on your phone or listening to some favorite music on your commute. Walk the dog when you get home. Do something for yourself when you’re home. Don’t just mindlessly watch television, but read a book that makes you think, cook dinner for your family, play games, anything that lets you relax and refocus your energy.
6. Get help
Ask your family to help out with laundry, dishes and other chores. Hire a neighbor kid to do some of the outside work that needs to be done in the fall. It’s okay to admit you aren’t self-sufficient.
7. Know your boundaries
Don’t feel bad for saying no when you have a full plate. Just say no to bringing cupcakes to the meeting or drinks to soccer practice. And don’t explain, because you’ll wind up talking yourself into doing something you really don’t have time for. Just tell the person that you’ll help out when life isn’t so crazy.