As a millennial executive, your days are packed with meetings, strategy sessions, and endless emails. Amidst the hustle and bustle of climbing the corporate ladder, it's easy to let your health take a backseat. Trust me, I've sacrificed my health for years, excusing it because I'm climbing the ladder and advancing professionally.
However, prioritizing your well-being is crucial for sustained success and happiness in your personal and professional life. Take it from someone who has hit the metaphorical wall on more than one occasion, in more than one way. Here are some practical tips to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, even when your schedule is jam-packed:
Embrace the Power of Routine: Establishing a daily routine can provide structure and stability amidst the chaos of executive life. Dedicate specific time slots for exercise, meals, and relaxation to ensure that self-care remains a non-negotiable part of your day. If you're like me and your schedule is wildly inconsistent, travel-laden, and anything but routine, time blocking will quickly become your best friend. While you may not be able to have a clean routine, blocking the time for the same activities each week, wherever they fall, is still a great way to control the chaos.
Make Time for Movement: Regular exercise is essential for managing stress, boosting energy levels, and staying productive. Whether it's a morning yoga session, a lunchtime jog, or an evening gym workout, find physical activities you enjoy and prioritize them in your schedule. Listen, it doesn't have to be elaborate, high-intensity boot camps that will drain your energy and finances. Don't underestimate the power of an old-fashioned walk.
Fuel Your Body with Nutrient-Rich Foods: As tempting as it may be to rely on fast food and caffeine to get through the day, prioritize nourishing your body with wholesome, nutrient-rich foods. Opt for balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to sustain energy levels and support cognitive function. Again, you don't need a crazy regimented diet plan but healthy moderation emphasizing food as fuel.
Stay Hydrated: Embrace your basic; grab a Stanley, Yeti, or the trendy water container of your choosing. Heck, a regular old glass will do. Dehydration can impair concentration, decrease cognitive performance, and affect overall well-being. Keep a reusable water bottle with you, and make a conscious effort to drink enough water throughout the day, especially during busy periods. Bonus: taking that brief intentional pause to hydrate also gives you a moment to step back and pause on the never-ending pile of work!
Practice Mindfulness: The demands of executive life can sometimes feel overwhelming, leading to burnout and exhaustion. Incorporate mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or short breaks for reflection to stay grounded, reduce stress, and enhance overall resilience. If you're anything like me, getting your mind to slow down, let alone shut off, is a challenge. Start small, give yourself grace, and understand mindfulness practices can vary greatly. You may have to try different methods. If classic meditation doesn't work, there's always journaling, doodling, art, music, or even just getting your bare feet on the fresh earth (grounding).
Set Boundaries: In today's hyper-connected world, it can be challenging to disconnect from work, even during personal time. Establish clear boundaries between work and leisure, and resist the temptation to check emails or take calls outside of designated hours constantly. Prioritize downtime to recharge and rejuvenate. As we know, the pandemic's work-from-home revolution blurred the lines between home and work life. For some, it created better balance, but for some of us, it created more excuses to stay connected longer. Setting boundaries at work, especially after they've already been crossed, can be a delicate art. Communication is going to be key. Keeping things in the lens of what you can and will do, rather than what you can't or won't, is a great way to start. It's also important to remember boundaries aren't about telling others what they will or won't do. Boundaries are about handling situations and knowing how you will react. Creating tradeoffs to protect your boundaries is a winning strategy.
Cultivate a Supportive Network: Surround yourself with peers who understand the unique challenges of balancing career ambitions with personal well-being. While your circle needs to understand the challenges of executive life, it's important to have diversity in your circle. Diversity of thought and experience helps keep you in check on the right path. Too much similarity creates an unhealthy echo chamber that could lead you to stagnate. A diverse support network also gives you greater knowledge and wisdom from which to learn. Lean on your network for support, encouragement, and accountability as you strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle amidst the demands of executive life.
Remember, prioritizing your health and well-being isn't just about optimizing your performance in the boardroom—it's about cultivating a fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle that allows you to thrive personally and professionally. Implementing these tips into your daily routine can elevate your effectiveness as a millennial executive while nurturing your overall well-being. It is hard not to let these things feel like more "to-dos" on our plates. So don't be afraid to start small with just one. As my dad would say, "human-sized bites." Wellness is a journey and not linear. You will still have bad, hard, stressful days, but developing these tools allows you to remain resilient and bounce back faster.