"I'm just crazy busy."
"Crazy busy?" What does that even mean? That we're "crazy?" (Don't answer that.) Or more than just plain "busy?" When did we allow "crazy" to describe our lives?
Today's to-dos are never-ending. Our calendars are tightly organized by multiple overlapping colors covering any free time. In the process, good habits, like exercise and planning nutritious meals get sidelined by work, waiting for the cable guy or ferrying kids to lessons and sports practice.
So how can we take the "crazy" out? Or at least keep it from impacting our health? As an ER doctor and health company executive in my professional life, and new mom, head "what's-for-dinner" coordinator and senior "oh-crap-we're-out-of-diapers" gofer in my personal, I know the feeling of falling behind. But I also know a few things we can do to get back out front.
That's the reason for our new column: Busy Woman's Guide. Here you'll find practical advice and information from a medical as well as a personal perspective (because I'm also right there in the trenches with you). I'll comb through the science and the scrap, the beneficial and the bogus. Because if you have just 25 minutes, you need to spend it doing something that. Will. Work.
We'll start with five things you can do today that science has shown will improve your health, help you stress less and boost your energy. Because you have things to do and no time for "crazy."
1. Dance. What -- you thought I'd say "Go for a walk?" That's good, too. But if no one is around to watch (my toddler doesn't count, as she thinks my dancing is phenomenal) and Beyoncé comes on, I dance. Other times my choice is running. Maybe you would rather hit the elliptical or shimmy at a Zumba class. The point is: The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the time it takes to do it. Exercise improves bone strength, calms you, reduces the amount of time you spend sitting (also shown to directly worsen health), improves your sleep and shoots you full of those lovely little endorphins. Aim for at least 20 minutes three or four times a week. Note: This is not optional if you want to boost your overall health, maintain or lose weight, and just feel great.
2. Call your mother (or sister or best friend). According to Keith Roach, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Sharecare, "Talking with people and having an emotional connection is the single best defense we have against the bad effects of stress." Having a strong social network impacts your life expectancy, too. Why? Your friends and family members are the ones who will not only help you survive stressful times; they'll be your biggest cheerleaders as you strive to meet your goals.
3. Have a kiwi. Or a pear or a star fruit. Or any other fruit you don't normally eat. This gives you two benefits: First, eating fruit is a delicious way to help meet your daily recommended amount of vitamins and minerals. Study after study has shown that getting the vitamins and minerals you need is far more effective coming from food than a pill. Secondly, anytime you diversify your diet, you're improving your health by getting the proper mix of micronutrients. Next time you're at the store, look beyond your typical apples and lettuce and grab that Dr. Seuss-looking fruit -- you may be surprised.
4. Slow down. I'm not speaking metaphorically here. Slow your driving. I did as soon as I learned that driving just three to five miles per hour over the speed limit increases your risk of a car accident by 35 percent. Driving 18 miles per hour over the speed limit increases your chance of dying in a car crash by 18 times. Yes, 18 times! Now that is crazy.
5. Take the TV and other electronic devices out of your bedroom. I checked my email from bed last night. Then I had plenty of time to reflect on how bad that was for my sleep -- since I couldn't fall asleep. Studies have shown that watching TV or using any electronic device right before bed suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps control your sleep. Check the device at the door -- because, darling, with all you have to do, you need your Zzzs.
I can't make your schedule less... errr... crazy. But I can help improve your health and well-being so you can do what is most important and meaningful to you. Because that's the point of all of this, right? Let's do this.
Now, I want to hear from YOU -- what are ways that you've found work to make life less crazy? Tweet me @drdarria, or post on my Dr Darria Long Gillespie Facebook page - I'd love to know your best tips too!