When daily responsibilities pile up and there’s hardly time to break for a meal, it’s natural to start living in reactive mode. You know, snacking on whatever’s around because you missed lunch, staying up past midnight to finish work assignments, then having extra coffee the next day to make up for the loss of sleep. But that’s not necessarily sustainable or healthy.
If you’re living in that reactive mode, often foregoing your own basic needs to tend to others, then you’re building yourself up for a breakdown. Trying to fix everything all at once is overwhelming, so let’s start with three techniques for prioritizing self-care, even on the busiest days, and how each will help you feel more balanced.
- Eat meals with carbs and fats.
Your brain will thank you. Why? It relies on healthy carbs and fats for fuel. And healthy carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, oats, and whole-grain bread support serotonin production, which will help you naturally feel calmer and happier. Start your day off with a healthy breakfast with carbs and protein. We like oatmeal with nuts and seeds. For lunch and dinner, fill half of your plate with colorful veggies, a quarter with an animal- or plant-based protein, and a quarter with healthy carbs like sweet potato, quinoa, or legumes.
- Remember to hydrate.
We’ve said it 100 times, and we’ll say it again: Hydration matters. More than half of your body weight is water, making it vital to proper function. And hydration levels affect mood, energy levels, reaction time, and sleep. A dehydrated brain doesn’t function very well. Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning when you’re the most dehydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and continue to drink water throughout the day.
- Get out of that chair
You don’t have to take on a heavy sweat session to find success. Getting up every two hours and increasing your heart rate for just two minutes can improve blood flow and have a positive effect on your mental focus and productivity. Try doing jumping jacks in place, working in your garden, or having a walking meeting. Do what feels good to you. The important thing is to take breaks that don’t involve more sitting and screen time.