Being healthy in body, mind and soul is the most important part of your career and your life! No matter what pressing deadlines you have, the pile of to-do lists that you maintain, or the people you have to manage, taking the time to look after yourself everyday should always be a high priority.

Which is why, this week, we’re turning our attention to ‘wellness’ by specifically looking at how your diet, fitness and general well-being affects your physical & mental state, and why this is critical for your career.

Diet

What we put into your bodies affects everything from muscle growth and bodily functions, through to your mood, energy levels and general brain activity.

A well-balanced diet that includes highly nutritious foods, gives your body the fuel that it needs to perform at 100% effectiveness. Likewise, greasy, fatty foods drain your body of energy and can impair your brains from functioning at full potential.

Planning ahead is vital to maintaining a healthy diet, so planning lunches in advance as well as purchasing the right desk snacks ahead of time, can be the secret to eating well.

Lunches high in fibre and protein are highly recommended, and will give you an excellent springboard for your afternoon activities. Salads make the ideal lunch as they are full of vitamins and minerals which really replenish your system after a hard morning's work. To make sure you've satisfied your hunger, consider bulking your salad up with grains like quinoa, pearl barley, or other grains.  Fresh vegetables will give your body the right kind of carbohydrates that it needs for that time of day, contrary to the complex carbohydrates found in bread, pasta and rice – which tend to tire us out after consumption.

Healthy desk snacks include fruit, nuts, and low-sugar cereal bars, as well as high-in-fibre snacks like crackers and ryvita, and of course low fat yoghurts. A carefully thought -out dip like a low fat hummus accompanied by raw carrot batons can be a healthy and delicious snack to sit by you as you work.

Snacking during the day shouldn’t be sinful. Instead, you should view snacks as ‘topping your body up’ with nutritious morsels that give your body the fuel it needs to work to the best of its ability.

Remember – you are what you eat!

Fitness

Keeping physically and mentally fit improves your brain activity and energy levels whilst reducing the chances of getting ill and feeling stressed.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (or feel-good hormones) which help you to relax and feel positive. Having an energetic lifestyle also allows you to sleep better at night and relieve stress.

Exercise is especially important if you work at a desk & behind a computer, where the majority of muscles in your body sit dormant for large amounts of the day, reducing their strength. Some workplaces have adopted a 'micro-break' culture, where employees are instructed to stand up and walk around the office for 2 minutes if they haven't moved from their seat within an hour.

A gym membership is a great way to have a consistent workout regime all year round, where you can exercise regularly and be spurred on by your exercise peers. It also provides you with a good chance to socialise with different people, and generally improve your work-life balance (more on this later). Most gyms offer classes like yoga or zumba - modern methods of relaxing whilst exercising.

An extra perk is that most gyms also have sauna and steam room facilities which really helps your post-workout recovery, and can help improve the health of your skin and airways - which aids quality of sleep.

When you exercise is completely up to you; as some prefer to exercise after work instead of before, but that really depends on whether you are a morning person or a night owl!

Lunch breaks & work-life balance

Your general wellness depends on having a well-considered work-life balance, therefore one of the most vital skills one can learn about their job and career is WHEN to stop working.

You can be far more effective in your role if you take enough quality time away from your work during the evenings and weekends, so that you can relax and rejuvenate your body & mind, by seeing friends, going to the theatre, or indluging in your various hobbies.

Your lunch break is also a very important part of your daily routine, one of which should never be skipped!

Taking a break away from your computer in the middle of the day can actually improve your productivity, thus improving your career prospects in the long run! A walk at lunchtime is a good way of giving your eyes a rest and re-engaging your core muscles. You can take your lunch with you and find somewhere nice, away from the office, to eat it.

Remember, by working too much, you run the risk of what is frequently referred to as ‘burn-out’, aka – working all hours under the sun to stay on top of your to-do lists, and not having enough fun.

Instead of working more and more hours, concentrate on 'smarter' working. One cannot work ‘smarter’ without a healthy work-life balance, where you wake up every morning feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day brings!

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