It’s a fact that women often find themselves juggling a multitude of responsibilities, from work to family life. But a busy lifestyle can make it challenging to lead a healthy lifestyle. What is a busy woman to do?
Fortunately, living healthy is easier when you take it one step at a time and stick to healthy choices.
“The key is to make sustainable changes that contribute to a healthier lifestyle over the long run,” says Katherine “Kati” Urbina, DO, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Hillcrest. “It may take a little time to adjust, but it’s worth it. You’ll find it easier to balance your busy life with healthy choices, and these are ultimately what is sustainable for long-term change.”
The following are health hacks that can help busy women boost their energy levels, reduce stress and enhance their wellbeing.
Exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy life. “The hardest part about going to the gym is getting yourself there,” says Dr. Urbina. So, make no excuses. Make time to work out.
Try interval training, which involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by recovery periods. It is a time-efficient workout method that can fit into a busy schedule. As little as 30 minutes per day can significantly improve heart health and overall fitness.
You can also find countless exercise routines online; take your pick of workout types, lengths and levels.
One of the most practical life hacks is making sure your pantry and refrigerator are stocked with healthy options. “Replace junk food and overly processed items with healthier choices. If it is out of sight, it is often out of mind,” Dr. Urbina adds.
Choose whole grains, high protein foods, fresh fruits and vegetables. They can deter you from turning to unhealthy fast food when hunger strikes.
- Whole grain over white breads, which helps to avoid a large insulin spike and a large rise in blood sugar
- Energy bars with nuts and fruit or high protein bars with low carbohydrates over cookies or candy bars
- Sliced meat from deli over packaged lunch meat with preservatives
Changing the time you take lunch can provide several benefits. Going before or after peak time may help you avoid the stress of lunch crowds. Plus, your workplace may be quieter at peak lunch periods, so you can focus on what you need to do.
“Remember to include a balance of proteins, carbs and healthy fats in your meal. They will help you maintain energy levels throughout the day,” Dr. Urbina says.
Social media can be a fun way to stay connected with your friends and keep up with their lives, but it can take up a lot of your time and become a distraction. Moreover, anxiety and depression can set in if you start comparing your life with the carefully curated images on Instagram or TikTok.
“Excessive use of social media can contribute to stress and distract from essential tasks,” Dr. Urbina says. “Setting boundaries can free up more time for healthy activities like exercising, cooking, or simply resting.”
What you can do:
- Turn off notifications
- Make a rule to check social media only once or twice a day
- Set a time limit for use
- Avoid checking close to bedtime, which can interfere with sleep
Water is essential for numerous bodily functions. Starting your day with a glass of water helps to kickstart your metabolism. Ending your day with water can aid in detoxification processes as you sleep.
“Drink a cup or two of water first thing in the morning and at bedtime to help ensure you stay hydrated. Even slight dehydration can contribute to fatigue and headaches, sapping your energy when you need it most,” Dr. Urbina says. ”If you have trouble drinking straight water like I do, you can add lemon, mint or frozen berries to add some flavor.”
Waking up an hour or even 30 minutes earlier can make a significant difference. You can use this extra time for exercise, meditation, or a wholesome breakfast to start your day. An early rise also allows for a calmer morning routine, reducing the risk of starting your day in a stressful rush.
Pausing your day to stretch and breathe can reduce stress levels and increase focus.
“Set reminders on your phone or calendar to take a moment to stretch and take a few deep, slow breaths. If you’re sitting most of the day, get up and move a bit as you stretch,” Dr. Urbina says. “These simple breaks can help invigorate your system and reset your focus, so you feel more in control.”
While multi-tasking might seem necessary given a busy schedule, it can actually lead to stress and decrease productivity. Focusing on one task at a time improves efficiency and reduces the potential for errors.
Getting outside, even for just a few minutes, can benefit your health. Fresh air helps to rejuvenate the body and mind, while sunlight provides a natural source of vitamin D.
“Go for a walk or just step outside and take a few deep, slow breaths,” Dr. Urbina says. “Especially in the morning, spending time outdoors can awaken your body and set the tone for your day.”
Hunger can leave you feeling tired and irritable and can lead to headaches. Eating healthy snacks throughout the day can help maintain steady energy levels and prevent overeating at mealtimes.
Choose high protein snacks like nuts and seeds, or fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
Try not to fall for buzzwords like “superfoods” or “natural.” Focus on clean ingredients with few additives. They will keep you full and satisfied until your next meal.