“I don’t have time for breakfast – I’ll just grab a pastry on the way into work.”
“I’m too tired to get to the gym – I’ll get started again next week.”
“I don’t have time to sleep for eight hours – I’ll catch up on the weekend.”
“Ugh, it’s midnight. Just one more episode…”
Ring any bells?
In 2023, we’re expected to work hard (and have a successful career).
Spend quality time with our kids/significant others/families.
Contribute to our communities.
Make time for fun and hobbies, and look after our friendships.
Keep our houses Instagram-ready, our finances in order, and our ‘life admin’ up to date.
Oh, and make time for ‘self care’, mindfulness, healthy eating, and exercise.
And do it all with a smile on our faces.
With the weight of these expectations pressing heavy on us, burnout is never far off – and our own ‘wellness’ is often the priority that falls off the bottom of our to-do list.
Here are our realistic tips to look after your own wellbeing in today’s ‘busyness pandemic’.
Get clear on your priorities
When’s the last time you sat down and did a ‘life audit’? This means taking time to evaluate the various areas of your life (work, family/kids, partner, social, spiritual, financial, physical, psychological, etc). How much time and energy do you spend on each of them? How happy are you with how you’re doing in each? Does this really reflect how important these things are to you?
Often, the first step to freeing up time in our lives is to realise that we can’t do it all: or BE everything to everybody all the time.
Making time for wellness is a give and take situation – if we want to add yoga or meal prep to our weekly plan, we need to take something else away (hours of doom scrolling on Facebook, we’re looking at you).
If we try to add more stuff to our list without striking other items off first, we’re looking down the barrel of burnout. And the way to do this is being clear on our priorities, so we can decide what to let go – and what to replace it with (if anything).
Break the addiction
Complaining about how busy we are is the new complaining about the weather. It becomes a reflex to keep adding things to our to-do list. And while we resent it, part of us secretly likes the fact that we’re important enough to be busy all the time. We wear our busyness like a badge of honour, a declaration of our self-worth (research actually backs this one up). Plus, if we’re busy all the time, we don’t have to face the thoughts that we’ve pushed to the back of our minds – we use being busy as a kind of escapism.
So, making time for wellness starts first with a change of mindset. Taking a step back from the throes of daily life, where we’re caught up in the worldwind of emails and social media. And deciding to live more consciously and proactively, rather than passively (it sounds trite, but it’s true).
Rewire your habits
‘Wellness’ only works if we can make it our autopilot. It’s NOT about Monday-morning resolutions to lay off the biscuits that fall apart by lunchtime; it’s about hardwiring different behaviours into our lives for the long-term. This means building new habits that put our wellbeing first.
Rewiring habits can be a challenge, so it’s best to start small and keep changes sustainable.
Take a look at your day: what tweaks can you make to prioritise your health? Try ‘habit stacking’ – grouping tasks together so it becomes second nature to perform them at the same time, or in sequence. For example, if you walk the dog every morning, could you make that a gentle jog instead? Could you add in some simple bodyweight exercises on a certain park bench on your way home? Could you build in five minutes of stretching when you get back to the house, while finishing off your podcast, followed by a smoothie (heavy on the spinach)?
If you haven’t already, we highly recommend reading James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’ for a detailed rundown on how to use habit building to your advantage.
Embrace the grey area
When it comes to diet and exercise, we have a tendency to be ‘all or nothing’ with our approach. Either we’re munching on celery and spending hours on the cardio kit: or we’re finishing a bottle of red and a multipack of Quavers on the sofa after a difficult day at work.
Sustainable wellness is about dropping the black and white mentality, and embracing the reality that life is messy.
You’ll have ups and downs – periods of living healthily followed by a holiday blowout, for example – and that’s OK.
We’ll say it again: start small, and aim for sustainability. Fad dieting is a good way to make yourself ravenous, leading to a scarcity mindset and a massive eating binge when you get too hungry to carry on. Make small, manageable changes that you know you can keep up. If you break them, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Give yourself some grace, and move on.
Make a schedule
Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” When it comes to prioritising your wellness, if you get good at planning and prepping, the doing bit gets a whole lot easier.
This means knowing what steps you’re going to take, before you take them. Think booking your training sessions in advance; doing a weekly shop at the weekend so you have what you need for the week before it starts; meal planning and prepping; and diarising things like your morning jog on the family calendar. You might have a vague idea of what you’re intending to do the following week, but a thought in your own head often isn’t enough to hold you to your plan. Get it written down and shared with your nearest and dearest.
When it comes to wellbeing (like most things in life), transparency and communication drive accountability.
If you’re staring into the fridge at 10pm on a Tuesday and all that’s in there is half a lemon and a Diet Coke, you’re bound to reach for Deliveroo. If you’re too busy to prep or make your own meals, use a service that provides them for you (we love The Good Prep, and all Foundry members get 20% off their delicious meal plans).
You knew this one was coming, and we hate to disappoint, so here it is: sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to wellness, and has to be at the top of your priority list. Research tells us that sleep deficiency interferes with our productivity, mood, health, and focus in every area of our lives. As well as being a major factor in our ability to lose fat, sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and depression.
Our devices are our worst enemies when it comes to decent bedtimes, so put down your phone at 9pm, plug it in downstairs, and get an alarm clock.
Take time out
When we’re busy, we’re more likely to make poor choices – taking on commitments we can’t handle, or prioritising unimportant tasks over crucial ones. A vicious spiral kicks in: our feelings of busyness leave us even busier than before.
This mindset then spreads to infect our leisure time – so that even when we finally get an hour or two to chill, we feel guilty for not spending it ‘productively’. Plus, today’s 24/7 connected culture is blurring the line between life and work; promoting multitasking and never switching off.
Prioritising wellbeing means pushing back at this dynamic. Taking proper time off (yes, that means no sneakily checking work emails) allows us to free up the ‘cognitive bandwidth’ we need to approach life deliberately – and make good decisions.
Make exercise a non-negotiable
We won’t go on about the benefits of exercise, but needless to say that moving our bodies is one of THE best things we can do for our wellbeing. However, dragging ourselves out of bed at 6am – or swapping our lunchtime social media fix – to head to the gym is easier said than done.
In our experience, having scheduled workout times in small groups is the best way to stick to a training routine. If we’ve booked (and paid for) a session, and there are other people there who’ll recognise that we haven’t showed up, we’ll be a lot less likely to press snooze and give it a miss.
At Foundry, our Small Group Personal Training is designed specifically for busy people who want to prioritise their wellbeing. Our fun, inclusive sessions are tailored to each participant, so they’re great for beginners. And they’re one piece of our simple but powerful approach to building wellbeing, which you can read more about here.
We know that joining a gym can feel like a big commitment, so we offer our 21-Day Challenge to let you come along and try us out for a few weeks, no strings attached.
Interested in finding out more? Get the details here.
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