People often blame their lack of commitment to their health on how busy they are.
We're all busy. But when we give up on our health, we do so because we're feeling overwhelmed, not because we're busy. Instead of letting "my life is so crazy right now" be your default, how about putting a positive spin on it: "I have too much going on in my life to not work to feel my best."
How you feel impacts every aspect of life. When you realize the power of taking care of yourself, you're at a significant advantage—and you'll find that it's easier to handle everything else. Whenever someone tells me they're overwhelmed and stressed, I always encourage them to double down on foundational things like eating well, exercising, and sleeping. After all, health is the ultimate productivity tool—it's much harder to be efficient without a healthy mind and body.
Too often, we give up what we're most in control of—like eating, exercise, and sleep—when we're stressed. But that only perpetuates our feelings of powerlessness.
If you focus on your health when you're stressed out, you'll snap back to feeling more in control and less overwhelmed. But sadly, guess what happens when I check in with clients who quit my weight-loss program too soon because they had so much going on and life was "crazy?" (When is life ever not crazy?) They still feel out of control and overwhelmed.
Here are some simple ways to avoid that feeling—and to actually accomplish what we want while staying healthy.
1. Allow yourself to win the day.
Personally, I used to put a lot of pressure on myself in school. I felt like I could always be doing more, and I was always happiest after an exam because I finally felt like I could relax for a bit. It's why I couldn't wait to get into the working world so that when I was done with work for the day, I was done with work for the day.
But that's not really how it works now, right? Living in a hyperconnected world is like being in school 24/7. We can always be doing more—and that feeling can drive you crazy. If you give into it, you'll always feel overwhelmed.
Here's what I've been doing for many years to combat this issue. (It's helped a lot of other people, as well.) I allow myself to win the day. What does that mean? People beat themselves up for not doing more for their business, their side hustle, their health. But this focus on perfection often stops them from doing anything at all.
"Winning the day" simply means that I get done what I set out to do. I can rest easy and without guilt. How many times have you really relaxed while thinking about all of the things you "should" be doing? You can't. It's an awful feeling.
2. Pick 3-5 things you want to get done.
My solution is simple: Every night, I write down the 3-5 things I plan to get done for the next day. If I get those things done, I'll feel accomplished. I'll be able to rest easy. It's important to give ourselves the ability to feel accomplished for the day, instead of guilty for all that we didn't do.
The ultimate productivity tool is health.
"But I have so much to do," you might say. "Three-to-five things a day just isn't enough." The interesting thing is that the people who say this usually aren't accomplishing anything meaningful because—you guessed it—they're so overwhelmed.
I'm talking about three-to-five things that matter or move the needle on something that does.
The reality is: There are a billion things we can do every day. We're never going to get to the bottom of our to-do list in work—or life—ever. But you still have to relax and take care of yourself, or you won't accomplish any of them.
3. Write it down.
One good tactic to simplify your life and declutter your mind: Write everything down. I believe that our mind is designed to think of new things, not the same things over and over. If a task needs to get done, or I think of something important, I immediately write it down—otherwise, it takes up precious mental energy.
Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann recently gave this advice to entrepreneurs:
"Working all the time at the expense of your health is not a good strategy because if you're actually going to go after something for a long time as an entrepreneur, having your health intact turns out to be really important. And a lot of the folks who have burned out did so not because they ran out of money. They burned out because they became really unhealthy."
It turns out that focusing on your health will not only help your business and work—Silbermann's advice doesn't only apply to entrepreneurs—but can also help you feel less overwhelmed in life generally. When we're stressed and overwhelmed, it's harder to take care of ourselves.
Everything impacts everything. When we're feeling good, it's easier to be healthy. When we're healthy, it's easier to feel good.
Adam Gilbert is the founder of MyBodyTutor.com, an online program that solves the lack of consistency faced by chronic dieters. Sign up for his free mini-course on weight loss, and follow Adam on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.