Staying Healthy While Juggling a Busy Workload

Published: June 26, 2024

Don’t worry, this isn’t another “Follow these five steps for more balance” article, complete with advice like using a health tracker or a meal-planning app. We’ve all seen enough of those, and the last thing we need is more reasons to feel bad about ourselves. Let’s talk openly about the real struggles and solutions regarding staying healthy with a crazy work schedule.

I’m a solo-preneur in interior design – a field I’ve loved for 25 years – and I’ll be the first to admit that achieving balance is tricky but not impossible. My history has shown me that prolonged imbalance leads directly to burnout. Looking back, the common thread was often unhealthy coping skills.

Just last year, I was overwhelmed with teaching and managing my business and life itself. I told myself to just make it to June, but halfway through, I realized I wasn’t enjoying my work or my life. It was clear I was harming not just myself but my students, clients and my personal relationships.

Our livelihood in design depends on our creativity. When overworked, sleep-deprived and emotionally overwhelmed, my ability to design suffers. I end up creating what I call a “pedestrian kitchen,” doing a disservice to my clients and my own business growth.

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For those who run their own businesses, it’s easy to let work consume all your time. There’s no mandatory lunch hour or set vacation time. I recently asked myself, “If I were my employee, how would I treat me?” It’s an opportunity to become the “Best Boss Ever.”

Let’s focus on proactive behaviors and emergency triage for when you’re already overwhelmed.

Staying Healthy: Establish Non-Negotiable Habits

It’s easier to maintain good habits during busy times than to try to develop them mid-crisis. This year, I’m heading into the busy season with solid habits already in place:

  • Daily Movement: Move your body every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Once I’m in the habit, I find I crave it and am restless without it.
  • Outdoor Time: Nature and fresh air daily help reset your mind. Connecting with nature helps ground me, inspires me and gives me beautiful moments of mindfulness.
  • Quiet Time: Instead of walking to music or a podcast, sometimes my mind needs silence to unravel, process and notice the world around me. There can also be a fair amount of sound pollution from outside, and I often use noise-canceling ear buds or headphones.
  • Mindfulness: Start a practice that suits you, even if it’s just mindful breathing or a walking meditation.
  • Healthy Eating: Have water and healthy grab-and-go snacks with you during the day. Your brain will thank you after that three-hour client meeting, and you will be less tempted to overeat at night.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritize seven to eight hours of sleep; rediscover the power of naps if you work from home.
  • Unwinding Activities: Engage in activities like coloring, knitting or gardening –anything but mindlessly scrolling through social media.

Staying Healthy: Communicate and Simplify

  • Plan Ahead: Reduce decision fatigue by planning your meals and outfits the night before.
  • Push Deadlines: Not everything is urgent; learn to reschedule tasks that can wait.
  • Open Communication: Keep your clients in the loop; most prefer honest updates over rushed work.
  • Reduce Commitments: It’s okay to step back from volunteer work or other commitments; you don’t owe everyone an explanation.

Staying Healthy: Reconnect with Your Why

Last spring, I had to remind myself why I love what I do. It’s crucial to reconnect with your purpose to stay grounded and passionate. Balance isn’t always a daily achievement – it can be weekly or even seasonal. I’ve learned to go with the flow and be gentle with myself through these cycles. You deserve the same kindness. Let’s support each other in thriving, not just surviving!

By Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, Owner of Timeless Kitchen Design,

Photo credit: Andrii IURLOV/Abobe Stock

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