By: Nikki Nies
I grabbed lunch with my parents and with some of their friends a couple of weeks ago. Since that lunch, I haven’t been able to get a conversation I had with them out of my head. In a round about way, let me explain how this lunch is pertinent to this blog post.
My dad’s friend is a diabetic and has a history of fluctuating weight and overeating. He knows I’m majoring in nutrition and asked for some “help.” He explained that although we grabbed lunch at 1230PM, he hadn’t had breakfast less than a hour ago since he had gotten up at 10AM.
Part of me interpreted his 10AM rise as something to look forward to once I’m retired, but it became clearer as he talked that he’s his largest barrier to optimal health. Both he and wife often don’t get to bed until 2AM, with an unconventional sleep schedule dictating nontraditional eating habits and schedules.
I found he didn’t “need” my nutrition advice, but needs to take a step back and recognize the connection between his nontraditional sleeping habits and his grogginess throughout the day due to his unstructured eating schedule. If I were to help him, I would aim to empower him to make better decisions on eating and sleeping schedule. While the autonomy to do what he likes during retirement may seem ideal, it’s evident it’s hindered his health.
My dad’s friend may not sound like your situation, but not making health his priority is a common battle many others face. I’m not here to pass judgement, but to identify the underlying battle people face in the attempt to balance work, taking care of loved ones and handling daily responsibilities on top of maintaining one’s own health is not an easy task.
Change is hard, but as always, small baby steps of change can make a world of impact.
Here are some suggestions on how to prioritize your health while dealing with life’s daily routine and struggles:
- Stop feeling guilty about taking time out for yourself daily–realize it’s a win-win decision to take some time out for you; when you’re stressed and frazzled, you’re not your best; self time is not selfish
- Decide how to best use “me” time–What will make you feel relaxed? Happy? Rejuvenated?
- Evaluate where you could gain more time–for one day, track where each hour of day leads you and find where wasted space could be reallocated to “me” time or to a more productive task
- Learn to say “no”–no one can do it “all”; decline requests or sign ups to activities or obligations that you know you can’t realistically do or that you don’t see as fulfilling
- Ask for help–delegating can decrease stress and help equalize the work load
- Dedicate 15-20 minutes a day to “me” time–allow you to be alone with your thoughts
- Create a daily ritual–find something that you look forward to doing daily (i.e. warm bath, reading)
Yes, everyone’s story and situation is different. But, what’s holding you back from being your healthiest self? What’s the largest barrier between you and your health?