It is normal to lose focus on health and fitness under work stress. Even under normal circumstances, being a busy professional can be both mentally and physically exhausting. This year, the pandemic shook everyone's life. With the new work from home schedule-- need for extra precautions while going out to work, clients cancelling, restricted travel, and no end to the pandemic at sight-- one thing is certain that it is now more important than ever to stay mentally and physically healthy. So what can someone do to keep healthy along with super busy professional life?
It is always rejuvenating to start the day on a positive note. Waking up with a smile and preparing a favourite breakfast item while listening to wholesome songs are great ways to keep negativities at bay. Nazmus Shakib, a consultant at Symm Consulting Limited, feels calm and relaxed when he gets up at dawn, prays, and cooks. He believes his positive beginning keeps him refreshed throughout the day.
Azman Khan Chowdhury, CEO of Durnibar Foundation, advocated for traditional walking or running for a period as short as 10/15 minutes. For busy professionals who have to rush to their workplace early in the morning, Mr Azman recommended running on a treadmill to save time.
People tend to deal with stress in two ways -- some lose their appetite while others start stress-eating. The latter can make one feel terrible afterwards, causing the same behaviour to repeat itself. It depends on the effect stress has on energy and hunger levels. However, it is required to alter diet practice regularly, no matter how busy one is. Fruits, vegetables, pulses, and protein from animal sources are essential parts of the diet that are often less consumed since carbohydrate has become a staple diet in the country.
Professor Sohel Reza Chowdhury of National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute said, "We are eating fewer fruits. Our immune system is thus weakening due to nutritional deficit." It is wise to keep fruit, protein bars, pre-grilled chicken, pre-chopped and frozen vegetables, and microwaveable rice on hand when there are time constraints. Not to mention such a diet also helps to boost the immune system to fight against coronavirus. However, excess of nutrition, again, is no good for the body. Ms Najma Shaheen, professor of the Nutrition Institute at Dhaka University, said in this regard, "Eating too many nutritious foods can cause problems. It is better not to take extra spicy foods."
Exercise is necessary not only to burn the extra calories but also to boost metabolism. The key is to choose the options that can be aligned with one's busy time schedule. Co-founder and Operations Director of Alpha Catering Sayem Faruk said that he just loves running. Just half an hour of running works fine for his fitness, he believes. HR Professional at BAT Bangladesh Adiba Arif has a rather creative and interesting approach. She dances away calories with Hip-Hop Tabata after a busy day. It is a fun exercise to add to the list. On the other hand, Md Shahnewaz Kabir, a senior official at Eastern Bank Limited, chooses three to four days from each week to run for 10 minutes and perform freehand exercise. This is a good strategy for those who cannnot manage time everyday as taking a few days in a week should not be impossible.
Some motivating notes
To keep the mind fresh and motivated one can engage in things that can offer a therapeutic break. Azman Chowdhury enjoys reading motivational books every morning or inspirational quotes of some successful businessmen. Sayem Faruk offered a different way to think about mental health as he said, "As entrepreneurs, we're always concerned about our productivity making our health a secondary focus. But, any bout of illness can destroy whatever productivity gains we have made. I have learnt to reframe my mind by telling myself that the idea shouldn't be to treat illness, it should be to treat wellness. The idea is to make wellness better."
On a more serious note, it is okay to seek help from friends, family, and even professional therapists. Almost seven million people in Bangladesh experience anxiety and depressive disorders respectively, revealed a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020. Hence, it is imperative to spare some time for ownself regularly for mental and physical development.
The writer is a first-year undergraduate student at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. She can be reached at [email protected]