A life coach’s free advice on how to balance happiness and work

Understanding the importance of a good work-life balance can benefit you in many ways, but one of the most important ways (by far) is how it affects your happiness.

Retaining a strong body and mind can help you deal with almost any obstacle in your path, so when work takes a toll, your body suffers, and in consequence, the rest of your life can suffer as well. Here are a few ways to change up some of those bad habits when your work life threatens to take over.

The Body
Finding the time to prepare healthy meals or take an exercise class can be tough. Here are some things you can do to maintain a healthier lifestyle on the go:

Easy Protein: Getting enough protein is crucial for peak performance. Sources of protein include meats, eggs, dairy, and even vegetables. Hard-boil some eggs or stock up on chicken breasts—foods that take little time to prepare and can last for a few meals!

Drink Lots of Water: The occasional cup of coffee won’t kill you, but not drinking enough water can. Water helps in ways that you might not even think about. It can make you less irritable, because dehydration can adversely alter your mood. It can also help you cut down on unnecessary snacking, because your body sometimes tricks you into thinking you’re hungry, when actually you just need some old-fashioned H2O.

Prioritize Your Body: Exercising can relieve stress, boost your ability to handle situations in both work and personal lives, and is a way to combat the day-to-day of stagnant deskwork. If your work allows, take your lunch break to go for a run or a swim. Any amount of time being active is beneficial. If you don’t have time to leave work, try standing and working, or do some bodyweight exercises like squats and pushups. Commit a few minutes here and there to be more fit.

Snacking: Eating in a hurry usually means grabbing smaller portions of food whenever it is convenient. Just because you don’t have time to cook doesn’t mean what you snack on has to be packaged, processed, and unhealthy. Foods like nuts, berries, and carrots or celery are great for those days when you’re moving from one thing to the next. It also helps to have these good eats at your disposal when your coworker brings donuts on Monday morning.

The Mind
When your mind is at ease, your perspective on life tends to follow suit. Here are some ways to unscramble all the thoughts in your head when it’s constantly racing:

Take a Timeout: You need time to stop thinking about work, even if you’re still at work. Calling a friend, walking around your office building, or sitting in a silent break room can help you relax and give your brain a break. Optimize your home to reduce the stress you feel while you’re there. Chances are, you have enough of that at work. If cleaning is too much to keep up with, consider hiring someone to do it for you. Clutter reduction can make a huge difference on your state of mind.

Unleash Your Creative Side: Stimulating your brain in a way that you enjoy can help you release negative thoughts or feelings. It can also help you keep your good humor (as well as your sanity) in times of stress.

Be Social: Sometimes you need to talk to others to feel connected and appreciated – and you shouldn’t always have to talk about work. Plan ahead and carve out time for social activities – especially ones that help you in more ways than one. For example, take a walk in the park with some of your friends, or take your kids to the movies. You can spend time with loved ones while doing something that is beneficial and that you enjoy.

Working hard is one thing, but living hard is another. While you’re on the clock, focus on your tasks, but when it’s time to fold your laptop and file away your work documents, file away your work worries with them to maximize all your time.

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