You hit traffic on the way to the office — the day you have a big client presentation. You miss your morning coffee stop and arrive in the nick of time. After work, you rush to pick up the kids from soccer practice and get dinner on the table. By the time you fall into bed, you’re exhausted — but you can’t turn off your mind.
How can you cultivate a greater sense of balance in your everyday life, especially if you’re a working mother? Taking charge of your schedule begins with embracing healthy habits. You are the sum of the choices you make and the actions you take. If you select wisely, you can design the life of your dreams.
1. Establish a Morning Ritual
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you reach for your phone and surf social media? If so, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to adjust your mindset.
Your morning ritual should engage your body and mind as well as your spirit. Yet you have to keep it realistic. If you tend to rush out the door at the last minute, don’t expect to carve out an hour for yoga before work.
Start by spending five minutes in meditation or prayer when your alarm goes off. Get your body moving by doing gentle stretches in bed. Do a few jumping jacks or march in place to get your blood flowing. Make your coffee mindfully — take a moment to inhale the aroma of the beans. An attitude of positivity is an excellent way to start the day.
2. Get Outdoors Everyday
If you’re like most people, you probably spend the majority of your time indoors. While you may feel comfortably sheltered from wind and rain, spending too much time under fluorescents makes you lose touch with humanity. You start feeling like a cog in a machine. A lack of outdoor play can affect your children’s behavior, too.
Whenever the weather permits, get outside with your little one. Take them to the playground and encourage them to run and jump. Transform your yard into a magic wonderland by bringing costumes and props outdoor to play. Walk or bike to school together instead of sitting in the parent pickup line.
At work, skip the smokers’ bench and take a walk during your 15-minute breaks. If possible, move your desk near a sunny window or skylight. If you experience seasonal depression in the winter months, invest in a specialty lamp to mimic the effects of sunlight.
3. Move Your Body
You can’t work or parent at your peak if you’re sick. Everyone gets a cold now and then, but living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity and diabetes. Over time, you can develop cardiovascular disease and increase your risk of cancer.
Most experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week — 30 minutes each day during the workweek. You should also strength train at least two to three times per week. You don’t need to join a gym and heft heavy barbells to work your muscles. Instead, find inexpensive exercise bands online or at a brick-and-mortar retailer. Use these bands to perform squats and biceps curls while you watch TV.
What’s the best type of exercise? When should you workout? If you have time in the morning, experts recommend starting then. Even if life gets away from you, you know you accomplished your fitness goal. However, if you come alive at night, you can burn the same amount of calories and reap the health benefits.
When it comes to the best exercise, it depends on what you love. If you enjoy solitude, you may gravitate toward long-distance running or hiking. If you’re a social butterfly, a Zumba or HIIT class can get you going. Exercise even helps expel bacteria and viruses from your body, making it less likely you’ll get the office bug.
4. Prepare Healthy Meals
If you want to keep going strong, you need high-octane fuel for your body. It’s okay to eat meat on occasion, but you should strive for a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Each vibrant, natural hue represents a different profile of phytonutrients, which are vitamins and minerals that keep you feeling your best.
Strive to fill your plate halfway with vegetables at each meal. Go shopping on your days off and prepare grab-and-go meals you can freeze during the workweek. For example, a delicious vegan burrito packs a protein punch — plus, you can heat it up in the microwave office. Invest in an instant pot or slow cooker to make weeknight dinners easy and nutritious.
5. Reach Out to Your Network
Loneliness can have adverse effects on your health. People who report high levels of isolation run increased risks of depression and suicide. Feeling alone can increase your chances of developing an addiction and Alzheimer’s disease.
Each day, reach out to someone in your network. It can be as simple as sending an email asking how their weekend was. Gather their input on a complex project. Tell your partner you love them and take the time to hug your children.
6. Spend Time Learning
Your high school teachers were right — learning is a lifelong activity. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes each day learning something new. You can also reinforce existing knowledge.
Invest in a language learning app and brush up on that French you haven’t used since sophomore year. If you’re a nurse, read an article in a medical journal. Keeping your mind active staves off the risk of dementia and makes you an asset to the job market.
7. Prepare for Refreshing Sleep
If you toss and turn night after night, you can’t be your best during the waking hours. Create a nighttime ritual to ease you into dreamland.
Take a hot shower or bath before hitting the sheets. Practice 10 minutes of yoga, followed by five minutes of meditation. Sip a cup of chamomile and lavender tea — whatever signals your body that it’s time to wind down.
Regain Your Balance With Healthy Habits
No matter how full your life is with work and family obligations, you can cultivate a sense of balance. By following the seven tips above, you can manage the most hectic days with aplomb.