Over the past three days, I've been trying to get over a bad cold. I knew it was coming a few days before I got the first sniffle. You see, last week, I wasn't feeling that great. I hadn't been sleeping well and to make things worse, I was grabbing snacks instead of taking the time to cook an actual meal. My energy levels were low and I knew that I was putting myself at a higher risk of getting sick, but I still live in that wonderful world of denial. You know the one, where you think that you won't ever get sick. As if you could arm wrestle a virus into making a hasty retreat.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. We all get sick at some point but, often, it's our own habits that make us more susceptible to things like colds. If you want to be healthier, then you'll have to adopt some new, healthier habits. I know it's hard when you're rushing around all day, but if you don't take care of your health, you're body will eventually make you.
Here are some work habits that could be making you sick:
Not getting enough sleep - There are several reasons for not getting enough rest. If your schedule just doesn't allow enough time for a full 6-8 hours of sleep, you can look for ways to change it or, make time for a short nap in the middle of your day. However, many people find that stress and anxiety are the reasons that they can't get to sleep or have trouble staying asleep. If that sounds familiar, try meditation or other relaxation exercises before bed. If you find yourself just laying there, going over and over all the things you have to do and everything that you're worried about, get out of bed and do something nice for yourself. Have a glass of water, take a shower, read a chapter in a book or do something nurturing. It will help get your mind away from your worries and help you be ready to go back to sleep.
You skip breakfast - This goes hand in hand with not getting enough sleep. Making a habit of sleeping right up until you have to get ready to go to work causes a lot of stress and doesn't leave time for a good breakfast. Spending your morning with an empty stomach or grabbing a snack cake from a vending machine will leave you low on energy and doesn't provide your body with the nutrition and fuel it needs to do it's job properly. If you make a point to eat breakfast every day for a month, you'll find that you are more productive and feel healthier than ever.
You don't get enough exercise - 8 hours at a desk can be brutal on your body. We need exercise and fresh air to truly thrive. Take small breaks during the day and just walk around. Stretch your legs and get the blood flowing. If you can, try to spend a little time outside during your lunch break. At most offices, there isn't much fresh air or ventilation, which can make germs spread more easily and can cause problems with allergies as well.
Try for healthier meals - Eating a Big Mac in your car during lunch or grabbing take out at the end of the day because you're too tired from work to cook doesn't help repair the damage that your high stress job can do to your body. It takes some planning and a real effort to get into the habit of bringing a healthy lunch to work, but it's worth it. Junk food from the vending machine or fast food can make you feel sluggish and will lower your productivity and energy level, making it a vicious cycle.
No matter how busy you get or how stressful your job, you have to take care of your health. Make being healthier a priority, and you'll be better able to tackle your day. At first, it might feel selfish to focus on your own needs, but if you don't, who will? You can't be effective when you're sick, so staying strong is the best way to take care of your responsibilities.
Do you have habits that make you sick? Please share your thoughts in the comments.