Welcome to part 2 of my tips on how to prioritize your health and wellbeing while balancing a busy schedule. If this is the first you’re hearing of this, go back to part 1 (last week) and read that one first! I’m Sam Buchanan, a first year MD student in Ontario. I love love love all things health, fitness, self-care and wellness. Med school keeps me super busy, but I make sure to work out 5-6 days a week, eat healthy, and prioritize my mental health. It’s not easy, but I’ve developed a strong toolset to keep me on track, and I’m sharing those with you all in these blog posts! If you have any questions at the end, message me on instagram @healthyfitmd!
Last week we focused a lot more on specific things you can do to stay healthy and fit, but this week is all about those behaviours and mindset behind the scenes. THESE are the tips that are going to get you into a lasting routine, and to improve your healthy lifestyle for years to come!!
1. Be PRESENT with what you do
With the way our society works, everything is go-go-go. We live in a world that rewards doing 500 things at once, and constantly being on our phones ready to reply at a moment’s notice. Ok, 500 is pushing it, but you all get the idea. When we do this, we don’t put our full attention into what we’re doing, and end up being much less efficient.
This tip is one that will definitely take some time (I’m definitely still working on it), but it’s one of the most rewarding. With whatever you do, minimize your distractions and be present with your task. Do you have some work to do? Are you working out? At lunch with a friend? Try to put your phone away for half an hour, and concentrate all your energy on that one task. You’ll find that you’re SO much more efficient, more energized, and the QUALITY of your work improves tremendously. Not to mention, those around you will appreciate having your full attention. As cheesy as it is, you’ll truly appreciate the beauty in the world and in others when you’re present with everything that you do.
So, HOW do you do practice being more present? For the long-term, practicing meditation is incredibly beneficial. For the short term, I’ve just started using a 20 minute timer, and it’s SO HELPFUL! I set a timer for each of my daily goals, then concentrate ALL of my effort on it until the timer is up. Then I can take a break or move on to the next task. There are tons of these apps, so shop around and find the one that works best for you!
2. Recognize your progress
When you start prioritizing your health and fitness, you’ll will start feeling some benefits right away, but bigger changes do take time. It can be discouraging when you feel like you’re not making any big tangible progress, so that’s why TRACKING your progress is so so beneficial!
Whenever you’re feeling unmotivated, take a look at where you started and compare it to where you are now. I guarantee that you WILL have progress- whether it’s your attitude, your physical ability, your mental clarity, or so so many other things. Recognize the progress that you’ve made (no matter how small), and congratulate yourself for it! Realize the small steps you’ve made towards your bigger goal! This is an incredible thing that you’ve set out to do, and you should be proud of yourself.
To track my progress, I record my physical abilities (ie weights lifted, # of minutes run, box jump height), I take progress pictures, and I keep a journal for my mental attitudes and wellbeing. Every month and whenever I’ve feeling discouraged, I always check in to see how far I’ve come. No matter how small the progress, I’m PROUD of myself and it always motivates me to keep going!!
3. Don’t forget about your mental health
I can’t write a blog post about prioritizing health without touching on mental health. Over the years, keeping up with my mental health has been one of the most KEY things for getting through the tougher and busier times!
What works for you may be different than what works for me, but whatever the strategy, these are the long term habits that will stop us from burning out after years and years of a busy schedule.
Personally, I use meditation, gratitude journals and exercise to keep my mental health in check. These are the things that make me feel happy, grounded, and calm. They help me to remember the bigger picture and not get too overwhelmed by smaller stressors, and have been incredible for my mental health progress!!
4. Be kind to yourself
When you’re busy, it’s REALLY tough to add something else to your plate. Prioritizing your health and fitness and learning to integrate it into your schedule is way more of a journey than a sprint. You will have your ups and downs. You’ll have setbacks that make you feel like nothing is working, but then you’ll have days where you feel like everything is going right!!
When things don’t go as planned, or you fall back into your old routines, BE KIND to yourself. This is hard to do, but remember that we are all human. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your little sister who was on this same journey. Let yourself know that it’s perfectly OK and normal to skip a week of workouts or to eat badly for a weekend. What matters the most is how we talk to ourselves and get back on track. The kinder you are to yourself, the more likely it is that you will progress and be able to stick to your goals. Don’t think about this as a fight against your former self, but rather working with yourself to make the best possible version of you!!
Whether you’re years into your health and fitness journey, or just about to start, these tips can help us all! If you have any questions or would like to chat more, please please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and send me a DM on Instagram @healthfitmd. I’d also LOVE to hear about all of your journeys and how you’re doing on your path to prioritizing your health and fitness!!
Sending everyone ALL the good vibes, and I can’t wait to hear from you all!!