friends high five during yoga.

Your health impacts your work.

When you’re lacking energy, grumpy, and just not feeling your best, it impacts more than your physical health; it can also affect other aspects of your life, like your career. If you’re not at 100%, your work won’t be either. From losing focus and getting behind on projects to potentially snapping at a coworker and causing a tense workday, when your body isn’t healthy, things can fall apart. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can seem like a lot of effort with little immediate reward, so with your busy schedule balancing work, family, and all of your other responsibilities, how can you work on becoming a healthier you? Here’s why you should make fueling your health a priority and how you can make it work with your busy life.

What does being healthy mean?

Being healthy or building a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to eat food you don’t like or go to the gym every day to reach a certain weight that people tell you is “normal.” It’s about making sure you’re feeling good! Before diving into how you can improve your health, though, remember that a healthy lifestyle isn’t a cure-all. If you’re depressed or struggling with any other mental health problems, including eating disorders, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Medical care, combined with exercise and a healthful diet, can help you get back to 100%.

Healthy eating gives you energy.

meal prep fruits and vegetables in containers.

What you’re eating can actually have a big impact on your day-to-day mood and that’s because 90% of serotonin receptors are actually located in your gut. Serotonin is a chemical that sends messages between your nerves and regulates your appetite, mood, and sleep patterns and can be vital to making sure you’re ready to seize the day. You need to fuel your body to fuel your brain and that can start with what you’re eating in the morning and last throughout your day.

But when you’ve got a busy life, taking the time to make a healthy breakfast each morning can seem impossible. Stopping to grab a donut or a greasy breakfast sandwich on the way to work feels like the easiest solution. You’ve got something to eat and you didn’t have to get up an hour earlier than usual. That’s a win-win, right? While those items are definitely awesome as an occasional treat, eating them every day can not only get boring - it can make you feel more tired.

When you’re tired and it feels like you’re dragging your body to work, everything seems like it takes a bit longer and thinking through problems that come up throughout the day is exhausting. How can you prepare to tackle your workload and work toward your dream career when you’re too tired to think?

Preparing to reach for success with some quick, easy, and healthy meals and snacks can make a positive impact and be done without too much extra time. Try ideas like

  • Easy meal preparation. Meal prep is trendy these days, and it makes sense. Taking a few hours to prepare meals for the entire week saves you time in the morning. You just need to grab your breakfast and lunch and you’re on the way to work with something that feels super easy the day you get to eat it

  • Bringing healthy snacks. You’re going to get hungry throughout the day, especially if you have the kind of job where you’re running around a lot. It’s tempting to take a quick drive to the nearest fast food place on your lunch to grab something to quiet your rumbling stomach, but getting into the habit of that every day can not only be unhealthy for your body, it can get pretty unhealthy for your wallet, too. Instead, get a bunch of good-for-you snacks and lunch items to bring to work. You’ll have good food on hand when you’re feeling hangry.

  • Making simple changes. You don’t have to overhaul your entire diet to make easy health improvements. You can start with simple changes and go from there. Next time you’re at the grocery store, buy some real fruit vs fruit snacks, for example.

Even making small changes each day can boost your energy. With more energy, you can get more done on your to-do list and have time to plan your next move toward career success.

Good health boosts your mood.

So you’ve started eating healthier food and skipping the fast food drive-thru on your lunch break and you’ve noticed you seem to be getting more done each day. Awesome! But you’ve also started noticing that you’re more cheerful, less likely to get annoyed, and just feel generally good. That’s because when you’re eating healthy and your body is getting the fuel it needs to work well, it positively affects your mood.

When you’re hungry or you’re not eating the best, you’re more likely to get angry or easily irritated. Being angry and irritable often can have your boss and coworkers feeling like you’re not a team player or you’re difficult to work with, which can set you back on your career path.

Eating food that fuels you and adding in some exercise to your daily routine can help you stay cheerful and positive even on rough work days. Exercise (even if it’s just walking slightly faster than usual on your lunch stroll) boosts endorphins, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed. The happier you feel, the more likely you are to show that to those around you.

While no one is ever happy and cheerful 100% of the time, being healthier can help you handle those days when you’re not so positive and show your boss or interviewers that you’re ready to take your career to the next level.

Recharge with a goodnight’s sleep.

girl waking up.

When your body is tired, your brain is too. It’s hard to focus, stay on track, and practice effective time management at work when you can barely keep your eyes open. That can affect your performance and hold you back from reaching your goals, especially if you feel exhausted every day. Making sure you get enough sleep – and that it’s good sleep – is essential to success. A regular sleep schedule can help you prepare your brain and body for the work you do each day, but it can take work to develop better habits if you’ve been doing the same thing for years.

To work toward a healthier sleep schedule, you can start with a few easy tips such as

  • Going to sleep at the same time every day – even on the weekend.

  • Having sleep “rituals.” What do you do to get ready for bed? Doing those same things each day before heading to sleep can help your brain realize it’s time to shut down and recharge.

  • Turning off or avoiding looking at digital screens. It’s tempting to lay in bed and scroll through social media for a while before calling it a night, but that screen time can make it harder for your brain to shut off.

  • Meditation or ASMR. When your brain is racing after a long day, it’s tough not to think through everything that happened. Using meditation or relaxation techniques or ASMR, which is a term used for an experience that listeners describe as relaxing and calming, can prepare your brain to slow down.

Focus on your health to reach your goals.

Eating better, sleeping well, and getting in a bit of exercise are all part of being a healthier you. From improving mood to giving you more energy during the day, learning to take better care of yourself can help you prepare to reach your career goals. When you’re feeling good physically, you feel good mentally and that positive outlook plays a big part in how your bosses and coworkers perceive your attitude and confidence. Working toward a healthier you is the original self-care and you can start whenever you’re ready. Not sure how to eat healthier and want to know more about nutrition in general? Penn Foster’s online Fitness and Nutrition Certificate Program can help you gain more knowledge about healthy eating, exercise, and the importance they play in your everyday life. To learn more, talk to an Admissions Specialist today at 1.888.427.6500.