You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the work/life balance. And you probably worry that the scales aren’t tipped in your favor. If you’re like most Americans, the chances are you work too hard. The US is the most overworked developed nation in the world, in fact. But even if you’re extremely enthusiastic about what you do, spending too many hours on the computer can be detrimental to your health. When you have deadlines to meet and a boss breathing down your neck, that tends to fall by the wayside. But, if you want to live a longer and healthier life, it’s time to set some ground rules.
- Sleep more
More than one third of all Americans don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes it can seem impossible to fit it even six hours a night when you have small children waking up, anxieties about work, or your brain is over-stimulated from all that screen time. You probably don’t want to hear about the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation, so I’ll keep it short. Not getting enough sleep on a chronic basis is not good for your health. You have higher chances of developing all kinds of undesirable conditions, from heart disease to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Clearly, if you want a longer and healthier life, you need to start prioritizing your sleep. Try to set a routine where you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same hour, as your body gets used to the pattern. If you have trouble getting your 40 winks, make your room as dark as possible and limit distractions and screen time before you go to bed. Read a book, try stretching or taking a hot bath. If you still need help, reach out to your healthcare provider. A better quality of sleep will help you live longer.
- Exercise regularly
Are you kidding me? Between work, kids and social commitments, who really has time to exercise? It can definitely be hard to find the time to add an exercise class to your hectic schedule. But if your life won’t accommodate around exercise, try accommodating exercise around your life. Wake up an hour earlier and go for a gentle run around the block. If you already rise at 5am, try riding a bike to work, or parking your car or getting out of the bus a few blocks away from work.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator and make sure you take routine breaks from your computer to get up and stretch and walk around. Ideally, you’ll work up to an exercise routine that lets you work up a sweat and release endorphins, keeps your body supple and helps you sleep. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so start by incorporating small changes and take it from there.
- Be passionate about what you do
About 30 percent of the human life is spent working. And that’s a fairly conservative estimate. If you’re the first one in and the last one out, that number’s probably significantly higher. That’s an awful lot of time to spend doing something you don’t like doing, or working just for the money. You may think that it’s a privileged few who get to work doing what they truly love, but it may be easier than you think.
We’re not all able to be budding entrepreneurs, inventors or celebrities, but we can work with people and for causes that we feel passionate about. Take Sean Hopwood, President of Day Translations, for example. He started his translation services company out of a passion for languages. He admits to working just a little too hard, but absolutely loves what he does. Hopwood only works with people who are equally passionate about languages:
“It’s a prerequisite of joining our company. We’re lucky to be made up of a team of passionate people who speak at least two different languages each. I speak five languages fluently and I just started learning Chinese, and many of my employees take language classes in their free time. Working for something you feel passionate about makes you happier and gives you a reason to get up every day.”
- Be sensible about your diet
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but just in case you need a friendly reminder. All that processed food you eat? Give it a miss. Junk food, McDonalds, donuts and soda? Cut it down. Nutrition is a key factor to longevity of life, so be sensible about your diet. You don’t have to get overly anal and analyze the ingredients or carb content of everything you eat. But make a point to add more fruit and veg into your life.
Trade out your can of pop or glass of wine for water (three liters a day if possible), and lower your intake of fat to ward off heart disease and cholesterol. Don’t cut out everything you love though. After all, what’s the point of living a longer life if you don’t let yourself have any of the things you enjoy?
Christina Comben is Content Manager at legal translation services provider, Day Translations. Motivated by challenge, change and continued learning, Christina has garnered in-depth knowledge of diverse office environments and varying industries, from media and entertainment, to education, health and information technology. You can connect with Christina through Twitter (@christinacomben) or LinkedIn.