How to Stay Healthy When Pressed for Time

17Being busy is a way of life these days. If you’re like most of us, you woke up this morning thinking about everything you needed to accomplish by nine. Or maybe it was before seven. If that’s the case, you’re likely feeling more than a little stressed, and could benefit from taking a few minutes to look at some of the choices you’re making.


When your time is limited, chances are one of the first things to be neglected is eating wisely. Dietitians recommend complex carbohydrates to help your brain make more serotonin–a calming brain chemical. These include whole grains in breads and cereals. Carbohydrates also help you keep your blood sugar levels balanced. While foods high in sugar can give you a boost in serotonin, they can also lead to mood swings and irritability. Foods high in Omega-3 (like salmon, tuna, pistachios, and walnuts) can reduce the effects of stress. Likewise, studies have shown that foods rich in vitamin C strengthen the immune system and also reduce stress.

Fluid Intake

It’s also a good idea to monitor what you’re drinking when you’re feeling stressed. Caffeinated drinks, or those high in sugar, can lead to irritability and sleeplessness. While it’s really tempting to grab another cup of coffee, remember that the boost you’re feeling is temporary, and the effects will remain in your system for hours, triggering chemicals in your body that can make you feel stressed or depressed. To ensure the best possible sleep, most experts recommend no caffeine after 3 PM. We also tend to drink more alcohol as a way to relax when we’re under pressure. Again, it’s a case of weighing the short and long-term effects. While a drink may help you feel more relaxed, there is evidence that alcohol intake stimulates the same hormones our body generates when we’re feeling under stress, which only makes matters worse.


When we’re busy, sleep can take a backseat to almost everything. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and the thought of sleeping for eight of them can seem impossible. Still, it’s extremely important to make time for rest. Even if you can’t squeeze in eight hours every night, consider finding a way to take a power nap in the afternoon. Research has shown that a 20 minute nap in the late afternoon has a more beneficial effect than sleeping 20 extra minutes in the morning. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.


There’s no doubt that stress takes a toll on our bodies. When you start wondering why you’re paying for a gym membership, it’s time to make yourself go. If you normally work out for an hour when you have time, try squeezing in 20 minutes instead. If you can’t get to the gym, walk. Maybe you can walk to work instead of driving. You might be shocked when you realize that the last five minutes of your drive to work every morning are spent parking. If you walk, you can save that five minutes, and do your body a great service.

When we have a lot going on in our lives, our better habits can go out the window. Remember to eat and drink right. Make time for sleep and exercise. These are all beneficial things you can do for yourself even under difficult circumstances. It’s also important to remember the value of human contact. Don’t let yourself forget that you have family and friends. Making time to spend with those you love and care for can go a long way toward rejuvenating a spirit that’s been spread too thin.

Image credit:  Daniel Andres Forero