You know how it is – you’ve had a hectic working day with long meetings, or perhaps numerous business trips, constant working in front of your PC monitor – so you haven’t had much time to think consciously about eating well.
Stress in everyday working life and unhealthy eating habits are often reasons for an imbalanced metabolism and consequently for being overweight and ill.
Conscious nutrition is the key to success. It increases your performance and gives you long-term energy and vitality.
But what does a good business plan for your health look like –and how can it be efficiently integrated into your hectic daily work routine?
Regular business travellers and commuters regularly spend hours sitting in a car, train or plane. Eating a healthy diet is a real challenge when you’re faced by travel stress like this. The solution? Lunch boxes in which you can take complete meals with you.
You often don’t have enough time for a relaxed meal, and what’s on offer en route can be overpriced and unbalanced. If you're not prepared, it's easy to quickly slip back into old patterns, eat on the go without thinking and revert back to poor quality fast food.
A much better alternative is to provide yourself with fresh and balanced food on your travels! Yes, it takes time and preparation. But feeling good and energised instead of drained and exhausted, makes the extra effort so worthwhile.
Invest in a attractive lunch box so you can easily take your food with you. For example, the Bento box has a long tradition in Japan. Historians tell us that a thousand years ago, bamboo tubes served as lunchboxes for warriors, field workers and fishermen.
To this day, these practical and elegant Bento boxes allow schoolchildren and business people to enjoy full meals away from home.
When you are in the midst of ongoing high stress, it's so easy to become overwhelmed. Often we feel we just have to keep going when what we actually need to do is to take a breath, slow down and look for after ourselves.
Over time, excessive demands like chronic stress can have serious implications for your long term health. So what happens in the body? And what are the typical warning signals?
Feeling overwhelmed, frantic, restless, anxious or threatened means that your body is on constant alert. This is an exhausting and health depleting condition.
It is now known stress can influence the development of many diseases in the body such as cancer, heart disease and cognitive decline. If we are constantly under stress, many body systems run at full speed (e.g. your cardiovascular, hormone and nervous systems), while others slow down one by one (intestinal activity). These different responses are triggered by the many stress hormones that are released as part of the stress response.
Stressed people often suffer from:
It is vital to recognise stress symptoms as warning signals that they are.
It can be helpful to differentiate between stress characteristics depending on their levels. Different symptoms often appear at the same time, especially in the case of burnout.
These signs should not be ignored – burnout can lead to weeks and months of an inability to work, so it’s better to take notice of the signs early on and take action.
Unhealthy stress starts in the mind. So how can you change things? What helps? With targeted relaxation methods you can bring balance and satisfaction back into your life.
It's unrealistic to think we can eliminate stress from our lives. So managing stress better is always the best approach.
Remember there are also positive stress occasions where you respond – appropriately – to threats and performance requirements. The difference is, after experiencing positive stress, you’ll always come down to a calm level again.
Just how high your level of negative stress actually is depends greatly on how you assess the situation and your strategies for coping with it. Stress is the result of our interpretation of a situtation and how we then respond to it.
Once we become aware of where the stresses are and what our response to a situation is, we then have an opprtunity to actively influence it and make positive changes.
Even short breaks can have a relaxing effect, e.g. walking, being creative such as drawing or painting, listening to music, playing a musical instrument, reading and physical activity. The only important thing is that you don’t see the hobby as a “task” to be done as well. It's often too easy to turn it into another thing you have to do. This is very common when we’re living in high stress world.
Be targeted with your relaxation but most of all make it something you actually want to do.
Relaxation exercises have a targeted effect and are easy to use. They help to reduce inner restlessness, tension and fears and to bring about conscious relaxation, step-by-step.
Mindfulness exercises: You are mindful when you are aware of all the things in and around you that have no real value for you. This increases your ability to consciously differentiate yourself from requirements, e.g. to politely say “no” or to postpone a task until later. Mindfulness leads to more self-determination in life and consequently to less stress and feelings of powerlessness.
One recognised method, for example, is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), developed by the American molecular biologist Jon Kabat–Zinn. It is based on Buddhist roots, but is also detached from religious faiths. For example, you concentrate on breathing and on individual muscle movements associated with it, such as lifting and lowering the abdominal wall. Meditation also helps you to become more attentive in everyday life.
Autogenous training – during autogenic training, you relax your psyche first (“autogenic”) and consequently your body automatically. A group leader, a CD recording or you yourself in thoughts say formulas and sentences that suggest certain feelings. For instance – “My right arm is heavy” or “My right arm is pleasantly warm”. In this way, you go step-by-step through your whole body. With regular practice, the suggestions reach your unconscious, are converted into nerve impulses of the vegetative nervous system and influence body functions such as heartbeat, respiration, stomach-intestine activity, the blood circulation of muscles & skin and heat balance.
Progressive muscle relaxation – with this method you first relax the body and then the psyche. You go step-by-step through your body and tighten specific muscle parts, hold the tension for a few seconds, let go when you exhale and then let the relaxation take effect for up to 60 seconds.
There are, of course, many other relaxation procedures such as
Tips – find out what suits you best – and then incorporate a daily exercise into your everyday life.
Fast food in front of your monitor – is this you? During your hectic working day, healthy meals and healthy eating habits are often neglected. What are the alternatives?
Who hasn’t done this at some time? You read the newspaper or check you messages during breakfast, eat a quick snack while walking or hastily devour lunch in front of your computer – sometimes there is simply no time for a conscious healthy meal in your everyday life.
In the long run, however, such habits can be harmful. Scientists have shown that diet, exercise and stress behaviour signficantly influence each other. How we eat and what we eat therefore has a massive effect on the stressful life of our body – this is why we should get used to healthy nutrition rituals.
When we are under pressure, we often eat foods that are rich in sugar and fat, like fast foods, sandwiches and ready-made meals – and this is just not good!
Stress results in our bodies having an increased need for essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals – and this need is not met by unhealthy eating choices. That’s why it’s important to supply the body with healthy, nutrient-rich foods, especially at work.
Tips for your day-to-day work:
Within days you’ll quickly notice what a difference healthy nutrition makes in your everyday working life – just try it out!
Quality of life and performance are closely related. When everyday demands rob us of so much energy that enjoyable activities are no longer fun, that’s a sign that we urgently need to change something. But how can we succeed in this?
When it comes to optimising performance, many of us believe we have to function even faster and more effectively. We at Metabolic Balance have a different definition of peak performance: we believe it means using your own energy balance in a healthy way for the daily tasks you have to perform. If you always put yourself under pressure and ignore your fundamental needs, this will only lead to negative stress, excessive demands and, in the worst scenario, to burnout and ill health.
Healthy performance can only be achieved through pleasant and enjoyable habits, like healthy social interaction, the right physical activity for you and a healthy diet.
Create "islands of peace" for yourself: Sometimes just five minutes of consciously letting go is enough to regain your balance during the hectic daily routine. Build your peachful oasis firmly into your everyday routine, e.g. as a meditation, journeys of thought, as a short nap or a walk in nature. When the opportunity arises, you can use specific methods to cope with stress, such as progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training.
Move around in the fresh air – the combination of movement and oxygen will recharge your depleted batteries. Gentle movement and physical exercises are ideal. A daily walk in the fresh air also balances work and psychological stress. Do you notice how your mood lifts? The more regularly you move outdoors, the less drained you will feel at your desk.
Tip: Enjoy a walk in the morning and start the day in a great frame of mind!
Eat a healthy diet – the right diet is the basis for health and performance, because it directly affects our brain and our ability to think and concentrate. Being balanced in all you do, can really promote mental fitness.
For example, in the Okinawa region of Japan, there are relatively more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. In addition to their healthy diet, they have a golden rule: “Only eat until your stomach is 80 percent full!” The conclusion? Those who eat consciously and don’t go over the top will be rewarded with more vitality and performance into old age.
Having a life in balance ensures we can get the best for ourselves and our families at both work and home. And getting the balance doesn’t have to be difficult!
We are more than our work. Whilst many people love their jobs, unfortunately not everyone can say this so making work the main focus of your life can lead you into the stress and burnout trap.
A healthy balance between work and home life is a fine art that we never stop learning. Sometimes we do need to focus on work more than home and vice versa. But keeping an eye on overall balance is one of the keys to success.
Take your work-life balance into your own hands in small achieveable steps
Work-life balance is achieved with small steps and healthy rituals. Physical exercises are a great way to bring your system back into balance – even in the midst of everyday life. Here are our exercises for inner and outer balance.
Your inner balance will be more easily restored if you show an externally-balanced, erect body to the world. Even the simplest exercises can achieve a better sense of balance. And the best about this? These exercises work without tools and almost anywhere.
The perfect exercise for the bus stop! Use the waiting time for a short workout. Repeat the exercise as often as desired.
This exercise makes you flexible and relaxed, and promotes a good posture and concentration. The best time to practice is in the morning and/or evening.
Stress, too much work or too little: many people find their work unsatisfactory. Of course, there’s no such thing as the perfect job – but when we feel increasingly burnt out and burdened under our heavy load, it’s time for the crucial question: “Are we (still) in the right job?”
Maybe this sounds familiar ... We do something that fulfils us inside. We are motivated because we’re doing something valuable. We’re good at it, and it gives us pleasure. And the amazing thing is, we don’t feel any undue effort doing it. On the contrary, we develop the strongest inner strengths, creativity and commitment. That’s a calling, a vocation. On the other hand, we feel completely different if we don’t want to do a particular task at all.
Even if we drive ourselves with sentences like “Pull yourself together” or “Everybody’s got to go through this”, in the end we feel exhausted and empty.
As thinking and feeling people, it's natural and healthy to develop our skills and be creative. Ideally, we can bring our natural personalities with all our talents and abilities in our work. However, for many of us, this is simply not possible.
Not being fulfilled can also be accompanied by limitations in other areas of life. For example, those who decide to work freelance may have to put up with financial uncertainties. Anyone who decides on a dream job away from home must leave their familiar world behind.
The good news is, you don’t have to turn your life upside down to get the feeling that you have a “purpose”.
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