Earlier this month, there was a UK wide campaign called National Work Life Week, which promoted a healthy work life balance and encouraged companies and individuals to fit exercise around their working days. Ah, that sacred work life balance – a never-perfect pursuit to juggle work, family, friends, hobbies and personal wellbeing.
This time last year, I was travelling around Australia and loved how the country had totally nailed work life balance. Get yourself to a park at 6pm in Sydney and just watch as the floods of commuters join together, backpacks in tow, to run, bootcamp and socialise their way into the evening. The transition between work and play literally ran like clockwork. Australia is almost synonymous with health and happiness, and I believe a big part of that comes down to their ability to draw a line in the sand and maintain those boundaries between office hours and all the other hours (there are rather a lot of them when you’re not glued to a screen day and night).
Here in the UK, I think we have a way to go. There is still so much that companies can do to improve work life balance and support a team culture where staying late is the exception, not the norm. But there is also a lot that YOU can do to take control of your work life balance and make more time for the things you love (and, in doing so, reignite your love for your work). By making time for exercise, in particular, you’ll be more productive at work and have more energy and enthusiasm during the time you spend with your family and friends – win, win! The stronger, fitter, leaner body is a happy side effect, of course.
I’m still learning how to strike the perfect balance, but to build on the momentum created by National Work Life Week I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned through my own pursuit of balance and through working with clients with demanding lifestyles.
Exercise first thing in the morning
I have a lot of clients who run their own business or have family life to maintain alongside their work life, and I always advise that they get their training in first thing in the morning. If you have kids, you can take turns with your partner to put breakfast on the table and do the school drop while the other enjoys their morning workout. You will never regret getting up a half hour or hour earlier to train – it will energise you and make you feel so accomplished for the rest of the day. You’ll also sleep much better at night as your body will naturally want to promote recovery, so although the first mornings may be tough they will get easier and more enjoyable every time!
Make your meetings more active
For meetings, brainstorms and team building days, factor movement into your commitments. Take your brainstorm away from your desk and go for a walk with a colleague – the fresh air and endorphins will stimulate more ideas and you’ll return feeling far more invigorated. Once or twice a week, make an agreement with your friends or colleagues to get active during your lunch break. Nip out for a quick 5K, head to a local gym, take a class or elect your most fitness mad colleague to run a bootcamp for the office. Your team will feel more united – and you’ll have done a load of good for your body and posture by getting off your backside for an hour.
Even short workouts make a difference
Stop thinking you need an hour or more to make a session count. A tough fast-moving 15 minute circuit is enough to get your heart rate up, boost circulation and stimulate your metabolism. On particularly busy days, I often break my workout into four 15-minute bursts around clients and deadlines. It actually motivates me to work harder and more efficiently when I’m ‘on’, and I enjoy those brief ‘off’ periods so much more! Try a full-body circuit with 10 exercises (like the following) and do 10-15 reps of each consecutive move. Repeat at your next opportunity.
- Press ups
- Rolling forearm plank to side plank
- Bicycle crunches
- Glute bridge
- Squat jumps
- Alternating side lunges
- Jump lunges
- Plank shoulder taps
- Tricep press ups
Everyone’s ideal work life balance looks different, but careful planning and an unshakeable commitment to your own wellbeing is certainly important for everyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. When you are happy and healthy, your colleagues, family members and friends will notice and share in your amazing sense of wellness. Choosing an active, balanced lifestyle is not selfish – it’s just plain smart. As more of us choose to prioritise wellbeing and happiness, we open the doors for others to follow suit. Which is just the kind of momentum we need to create a healthy, happy nation. Then maybe those are two words we’ll soon find to be synonymous with Great Britain.
If you want help fitting exercise into your lifestyle, personal training sessions to fix dedicated workout time into your diary or a workout programme to motivate you towards a set of realistic and achievable goals, I’m here to help. Corporate and small group personal training also available. Get in touch with me by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Every transformation starts with a decision to act and a commitment to small, consistent changes.