In April of this year, I wrote an article on stress management that encouraged readers to engage in the SET model for stress management which stands for Sleep, Exercise and Time Management. In celebration of Professional Wellness Month, I wanted to add two elements to this model. I’ll call it the ASSET model for Professional Wellness: Appetite Change, Self-Reflection, Sleep, Exercise and Time Management.
To avoid being redundant, this post will address the two new elements of the ASSET model. I am no medical expert by any means but have sifted through many pieces of advice in my life, evaluated each and found some that worked best for me that I’d like to share.
If you know me or read my posts frequently, you won’t be surprised that I’m writing about food again. I really believe that our health starts with what we eat. When work gets tough, we’re in a crunch to meet deadlines or there’s just not enough hours in a day, it can become very easy to lose sight of what we eat and how we eat. In my experience, long hours at work often means the boss is ordering in a bunch of pizzas for everyone to hold them over. It’s cheap and will fill you up. However, this can take a toll on your body quicker than you think especially if it happens often.
Here are some healthier alternatives for team meals during your next work-a-thon:
- Salad and fruit bowls will cover you and your team for both a healthy meal and dessert. Add some protein to the salads to make sure they are filling enough. Many restaurants offer these in catering sizes now too.
- Dare I say it…sushi! Yes, sushi can actually be a healthy option if you choose your rolls right. If you can find a good restaurant, you can fill up on fresh, healthy fish and vegetables. If the restaurant lets you, replace white rice with brown rice. Also, for the non-sushi eaters, most sushi restaurants offer other fully cooked options such as cooked fish dishes and delicious salads. Vegetable sushi rolls are also a nice way to get your dose of greens if you really hate plain vegetables. I’d recommend an Avocado, Asparagus & Cucumber (AAC) Roll or a Sweet Potato roll.
- Subs can be a nice alternative to the greasy pizzas too! Opt for the wheat bread and make sure to add those greens and other veggies. If you dislike avocados for their bland taste or mushy texture, a sub sandwich can be a great way to incorporate them into your diet.
What about the all that snacking you do at your desk? Build up an appetite for these healthier bites:
- sesame sticks
- sunflower seeds
- cut vegetables/fruit – replace the ranch with some hummus
- healthy snack bars – I recommend Lara Bars because the ingredient list is short and I know what all the ingredients mean
Ok, what about the HOW we eat? Here are two tips that have really helped me. Both helped me learn when I am full.
- Eat smaller meals more times per day. You’ll feel much better after meals. Plus, if you eat smaller meals, that means you might be able to still have a later meal with your family after working extra long hours at work.
- Portion your meals. If you’re cooking, put less on your plate. You can always go back for seconds. If you’re going out to eat or ordering in, cut or separate whatever is on your plate into fourths, stop when you’re full and save the rest for another meal.
Self-reflection can go a long way for professional wellness. The chaos and fast-pace at work can hinder both our physical and mental well-being if we don’t pay attention. Reflect on your work as it relates to your life, not just your career. Think about how it fits into your life rather than how you can keep it separate. Work-life balance is a myth if I’ve ever seen one. I choose to think about work-life integration and how my two worlds can come together and be whole.
Reflection allows us to keep our wellness top of mind. It keeps us attuned to whether or not we are going down the right path in life. It alerts us when it’s getting to be too much and we need to stop and encourages us when things are tough but we must push forward. It reminds us to enjoy and celebrate our achievements. It gives us perspective and shows us how we affect others and how they affect us.
When we think of our professional wellness, we must remember that it is both physical and mental. While we are not all lucky enough to work for a company that makes professional wellness easy for us by providing free gym memberships, nutrition programs and other healthy perks, we can all take small steps towards big change for ourselves by using the ASSET model.