Whether you have a side business, work from morning until night, take care of kids and pets, or juggle all of the above, making time for yourself can get hard. Busy people know they can’t waste a minute, and work through lunch, weekends, or even holidays in a constant effort to chase the clock. Maybe you’ve even stayed up late just trying to finish every item on your to-do list (knowing you have an early-morning wake-up call), or you forget to eat breakfast because you’ve been at your desk from the minute you wake up until lunchtime.
But here’s a news flash for you go-getters: being busy does not mean you have to (or should) forget about your health. In fact, a busy lifestyle is a sign that you need to focus on your wellbeing even more. If you just did a major eye roll and said yeah, right out loud, I see you. Here are 10 tried-and-true hacks that make a healthy lifestyle easy, convenient, and possible, no matter how busy you are.
1. Find easier alternatives to grocery shopping, meal prepping, etc.
I get it: meal prepping, planning, and shopping feel impossible when you have a busy day, week, or life. So if all the steps that lead to healthy cooking just aren’t going to happen, then skip them. Blue Apron offers wellness options like vegetarian, 600 calories or less, WW-approved, etc., so not only can you select meals that you’ll look forward to all day, but you’ll be eating meals that help you eat better with less work. You won’t have to plan ahead, meal prep, or shop for groceries. It basically gives you all the benefits of better eating without the time suck. Plus, Blue Apron also offers customizations, so you can swap, add, or upgrade proteins on select meals to tailor them to your diet, preferences, or lifestyle goals.
2. Start with the most important thing every day
It’s easy to get into the mindset of not having enough time when you have back-to-back meetings or attempt to fit in errands before dinner time. We delay the activities meant for only ourselves, or we feel like our time is better spent in other ways when we’re in the midst of work and chores. To avoid pushing it off (or skipping it altogether), do the single most important activity first thing in the morning. Whether it’s getting in a workout, taking some time for meditation, or prepping healthy meals for the whole day, do it first thing so you know it will get done.
3. Get in tune with what you need most
Some days, it just isn’t possible to fit in a 60-minute run, go to the grocery store, have some alone time, and call your mom. While wellness is about finding balance in all areas of your life (work, relationships, diet, exercise, etc.), you likely need different things on different days. Rather than worrying about how to fit in everything every day (you’ll just get overwhelmed and end up not fitting in anything), get in tune with what acts of wellness your mind and body need most each day. That might be taking a bath one day, while other days might be a high-energy dance class to burn off some steam, and other days that might mean having a glass of wine with your best friend. Start asking your body what it needs and make time accordingly.
4. Have a water bottle with you at all times
Too busy to remember to hydrate? Been there done that. Since hydration is crucial for overall health and wellbeing, the simple solution is to keep a water bottle with you at all times. Even better, make sure your water bottle is as large as possible so you can refill less often. Another water bottle hack? Make sure there’s a straw in it so you can mindlessly sip while working on your laptop (it sounds silly, but even the extra step of taking off the cap and taking a drink can stop you). Think of your water bottle as you think of your phone: it goes everywhere with you. Bring it if you’re running errands or you move from your desk to the couch. The more consistent you are with hydration, the less you’ll have to think about it.
5. Identify non-negotiables (but let everything else go)
Days or weeks that are extra busy typically mean we forego our regular healthy habits. It’s absolutely OK to pause some of your rituals, workouts, or routines as your daily schedule changes or busy periods come and go. But that doesn’t mean everything should go. Health too often feels all-or-nothing; if we’re not eating healthy, exercise goes too. In reality, if one healthy habit goes, it’s even more reason to stick with the others. Identify a couple of non-negotiable routines or practices that make you feel your best, and then prioritize them no matter what. Whether it’s getting a meditation every morning or going for a jog three times a week, keep up with only a couple of crucial rituals and routines to make self-care during a busy time feel more manageable.
6. Adjust your environment
You probably think about your home in terms of how to make it prettier, cozier, and cleaner. But what about making it more convenient for your health? First of all, surround yourself with motivating images, start a vision board, or post your affirmation on your mirror, desk, or fridge. Seeing a visual representation of why you care about your health will help you stay motivated when you’re busy. Also, make healthy habits easier. Keep your blender in an accessible spot, display healthy cookbooks on the shelves, leave your yoga mat out, and keep your essential oil diffuser right by your bed. You’ll be much more able to fit in healthy habits if everything you need for them is right there.
7. Have a plan B
So you slept through your alarm and missed your morning workout? Or you’ve been running errands all morning and can’t go home to make a smoothie? No matter what health routines you prefer, have an easy and flexible backup plan so that you don’t completely give up when your busy life keeps it from happening. For example, taking a walk while going on a conference call or doing a yoga YouTube video before hopping in the shower are great ways to fit in movement if you had to skip your usual workout. Likewise, have a few different healthy meal options so that when you’re not in the mood for your typical go-to’s or have time to cook, you don’t opt for fast food takeout. Health can still be a priority in busy times, but you may have to change the means to get there.
8. Take time for a wind-down routine
Raise your hand if you get exhausted during busy or stressful days (*insert three hand-raising emojis here*). When we’re busy, we typically go at 100mph until the second our heads hit the pillow. Whether it’s late-night work, finishing tasks on a to-do list, or wrangling toddlers, nighttime typically looks like an extension of our busy day. But staying busy until the lights go off can damage your sleep, cause stress dreams, or even lead to a lack of energy the next day. Even if it is 10 minutes of peace and quiet in the shower or five minutes to read before bed, you need a nighttime routine the most on busy days.
9. Multitask with exercise
Just because you can’t find a time slot for a 60-minute workout throughout your day does not mean you shouldn’t move at all. You can even exercise while accomplishing something on your to-do list simultaneously (intrigued?). For example, do bicep curls while on conference calls or go on a power walk while talking to your mom. You can also listen to an online class or audiobook for your book club while working out to accomplish two things at once. Even minor changes like parking in the furthest spot, taking the stairs, or standing up more during the day can make a major difference without taking up your time.
10. Realize that not having enough time is a myth
Now that I’ve given you tips to help make your wellness routine shorter and easier, it’s time for some tough love. Not having enough time to prioritize your health is an illusion. Period. The way that we eat, move, care for ourselves, and live has a major impact on our productivity, energy levels, and health. If we’re not spending time to emotionally recharge and care for our bodies, we’ll have less energy, feel more overwhelmed by stress, and are at risk for more health complications as we get older. In other words, you don’t have the time not to prioritize your health. Prioritizing health is an investment to buy yourself more time later: more energy, more capabilities, and more life. Manage your schedule to be less stressful, prioritize your time wisely, but remember that your wellbeing is not a reward if you get everything else done; it’s a necessity.
This post includes a sponsored mention of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.