How to be a Healthy Busy Executive

by | Aug 12, 2022 | Articles | 0 comments

As an executive, you have to think beyond to-do lists and project objectives. Where you choose to personally show up and what you do while there is potentially scrutinized by employees, investors, and possibly other executives. Your presence speaks to your priorities, and the priorities of the company at times. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything your company needs from you, but you have to think about optics and unintentional statements in addition to time management.

It’s no wonder that executives are often among the most stressed and unhealthy people in any building. While you may have secretaries, assistants, lower-level managers, and other people to take on some of the work you can’t manage, there is no way to delegate or outsource exercise and a healthy meal.

So, how do you stay healthy as a busy executive? It comes down to small daily habits repeated with consistency. Keep reading to pick up some tips on staying healthy while showing up fully and feeling your best daily.

Create & Protect Personal Space

When researchers recorded what 27 busy executives were doing around the clock for 13 weeks, they discovered that execs spent 61% of the work day in face-to-face interaction with others. They also found that the executives only spent about 6 hours of their day awake and not at work. Most spent about half of that time with their families, leaving just two or three hours max to spend alone.

Many executives thrive on personal engagement and enjoy spending their days surrounded by others, but that doesn’t erase the need for personal space. Your alone time gives your mind the opportunity to focus on your own needs rather than the needs of others and the company. Whether you spend that time soaking in a bubble bath, reading a novel, or striving toward personal fitness goals, it could be the only time in your day that you aren’t constantly “on.”

Look at your calendar and find opportunities for alone time. It may happen only at the end of the day or on weekends. You may need to sacrifice a lesser important social engagement to make it happen regularly. It can happen in 20- or 30-minute increments or an hour block every few days. Just find time where you can spend some downtime doing your own thing, and then protect those blocks of time just as you would an appointment with someone important.

Prioritize Sleep

How often do you get a solid 7 or 8 hours of sleep? Shuteye may seem like something you work around your busy schedule, and of course, it’s one of the easiest things to sacrifice when it’s time to travel across the country or chase that next big promotion.

Unfortunately, not giving yourself adequate time to rest at night is one of the costliest decisions for your health. As we’ve discussed previously, inadequate sleep increases your risk of obesity, heart disease, and many other life-threatening medical conditions. It may also impact your ability to focus, stay alert, and remain productive while at work.

It’s better to spend less time at work while fully alert and highly productive than to put in more less-productive hours while feeling drained of energy. You may not always have the luxury of going to bed and getting up at exactly the same time every day, but you can look at your current sleep schedule and make a commitment to do a bit better.

Champion Fitness Over Comfort

You already have a grueling schedule that forces you to fight just for 30 minutes of alone time. Now we’re asking you to sacrifice comfort for fitness. It may seem cruel, but staying active throughout the day is one of the best ways to keep your energy and confidence levels high.

Scheduling daily exercise sessions are important, but right now we’re talking about your overall daily activity level. As you move through your day, look for little opportunities to stretch your legs, flex a muscle, or simply move rather than sit in comfort.

Imagine walking into a large building for a meeting. You need to get to the second floor. Do you wait for the elevator or just go up the stairs? Going up the stairs allows you to move more and may give you a moment of personal space to breathe deeply as everyone else takes the easy ride up.

Now, imagine you have a 10-minute break between meetings. Do you sit with your head on the desk trying to cat nap or walk up and down the hallways greeting employees and perhaps refilling your water bottle or coffee cup? Getting up and moving around is the better option because it wakes you up while giving you the opportunity to share smiles and greetings with employees.

Those 10-minute walks throughout the day can help you burn more calories, build stronger muscles, and maintain your physical and mental energy. The key is to look for those opportunities to move and take them on a consistent basis.

Spend Some Time Outdoors

Does it feel like opening the blinds or hanging an arm out the car window is the closest you can get to enjoy the sunshine most days? You’re not alone! Many executives spend the majority of their time sitting behind desks or around long tables. While looking out as the trees sway in the afternoon breeze gives a little comfort from Mother Nature, it’s better to take a short break and walk in that breeze amongst the trees.

There’s a reason green spaces and even small gardens are popping up around hospitals across the country. Research has proven that well-planned green spaces are associated with the following:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Enhance mental stimulation
  • Encourage relaxation

Those benefits lead to faster recovery, shorter hospital stays, and reduced reliance on pain medication. Spending more time outdoors on a routine basis will boost your physical and mental health while enhancing your energy levels and sense of wellbeing in the middle of a stressful day. Something as simple as walking outdoors can make you feel more motivated and productive when you get back to the office or return to negotiation.

How do you spend more time outdoors when your life takes place indoors? We suggest looking at your daily schedule and identifying tasks that you can do outdoors. Walking meetings have been a thing for many years and come with some big benefits, including:

  • Increased creative thinking
  • Boosted productivity
  • Improved health
  • Elevated energy levels

Walking meetings are exactly what they sound like. You take a meeting outdoors instead of sitting in the office. It’s a great way to get a little exercise and absorb some sunshine while creating a lighter, friendlier vibe for the meeting. Just choose your walking meetings with care. Some are best left to the office.

You can also take phone calls while walking in a quiet park. What about responding to email and written correspondence outdoors? You may also consider getting your family outdoors for a more fun time when you’re at home. Look at your schedule and see what’s possible for you, and then make it a routine.

Focus on Nutrition 90% of the Time

The fuel you put in your body is a significant contributing factor to your energy level, alertness, mood, and productivity throughout the day. That means your diet should center on foods that offer maximum nutritional value. That may not always mean the lowest fat or least flavorful option. It just means you look at food as a source of fuel, and that requires you to identify the nutrients it will provide to sustain your body.

You can enjoy some comfort foods or your favorite junk food at times. Try to stick to a healthy, nutrient-rich diet at least 90% of the time. That gives you permission to enjoy more sinful food from time to time, especially when you want to participate in a night out with the family.

The 90% rule may mean you stock your office with healthy snacks and a few not-so-healthy options. If you eat all of the unhealthy options first, then you know the healthier options are what you need the rest of the day or week.

Strict Meal Planning is Not Required

Creating balance with meals just takes a bit of advanced thinking. If you know you’re going out to your favorite restaurant with your family in the evening, then keep your breakfast and lunch healthy will allow you to enjoy that dinner without restrictions. The same goes for enjoying donuts with your child in the morning and then creating balance by eating a good salad and light dressing for lunch.

If you’ve been enjoying healthy meals all week with no junk food, then you may cut loose with a night on the town, a greasy burger, and a few drinks. If you get back to healthy eating the next morning, you will have a greater work-life balance, some good memories, and a healthier body that can handle the occasional good time.

Create Your Own Challenge

Do you thrive at work challenges and promotions? If you have that competitive spirit that drives your work ethic, you may benefit from turning nutrition and exercise into a personal challenge. It can be as simple as putting small stickers on a calendar each day that you meet a short list of health goals. Simple things like having a fresh smoothie for breakfast, going for a walk, or taking the stairs on your way into the office can pay off when you’re consistent.

You may also consider implementing a Biggest Loser-style challenge for the entire office. Supply fresh fruits in the break room instead of donuts. The challenge may involve encouraging health as a culture at work, but you benefit as well when you participate.

Substitutions, Not Deprivations

Don’t focus on the foods you know you shouldn’t eat. Train your mind to find healthier substitutions that are just as satisfying as the unhealthier option. For instance, you may go to a light vinaigrette dressing on your salad instead of the creamy, rich dressing that you know is high in fat and low on nutrients. Snacking on raw nuts and dried cranberries instead of grabbing a candy bar is another example.

Take the time to walk through a supermarket that offers a lot of healthy foods. Most large cities have at least one store that caters to healthier selections. You will find a lot of products that you didn’t know about, and they’re all alternatives for something unhealthy that you currently enjoy.

Just Think More About Health

This is the simplest yet possibly the most beneficial tip you will ever receive about staying healthy as an executive. Just train your mind to think about health throughout the day. The more time spent thinking about your health the better.

We’re not talking about Googling symptoms or worrying about what the mole on your back is doing. Just start to think about your health and ways you can improve it in gradual, small ways through consistent action.

What you focus on becomes your reality. When you start to mentally focus on health, you will find yourself taking more healthier actions. If you can do nothing else today to improve your health, start to shift your thinking toward health.

Don’t Stop at the Annual Physical

Annual executive physicals aren’t effective for many because they’re one-time events that are easily forgotten. To stay healthy with a stressful work environment, busy family life, and active social life, you need medical guidance throughout the year. Caring for your health starts with honest discussions about your lifestyle, and the best person to give that kind of advice is a trusted doctor.

How do you get doctor appointments into a schedule that is already packed tight? You sign up for concierge services that keep your doctor one phone call away. We’re not talking about one phone call to a receptionist who will relay your message in a day or two, and eventually, you’ll hear back from someone. We’re talking about immediate access to trained medical professionals who are familiar with your lifestyle and medical concerns.

Working with someone like The Executive Health Doc™ is the easiest way to obtain that level of healthcare. We understand the demands of the executive lifestyle and strive to guide our patients toward their healthiest and most productive lives. As you improve your health under our care, you’ll also improve your energy levels, stamina, cognitive clarity, and overall productivity at work and home.

Yes, focusing on health with professional guidance can do all of that and more. Contact us today to discuss concierge health services for your busy lifestyle.