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Finding balance in the never sleeping city

March 2016; Continuing with a healthy lifestyle after January can be a challenge, but even taking a lunchtime walk in London can help, says CABA’s Nicki Cresswell.

Nicki Cresswell
The start of a new year is a time when we typically worry about weight, work and our lifestyles. However, for all the good intentions and gym sessions we attended in January, keeping the healthy lifestyle going can be tough due to work deadlines, family demands and other priorities.

We know these are concerns that past and present ICAEW members are experiencing, and this was reflected in our recent research with 40% of members in the UK stating that work gets in the way of healthy eating. Additionally, 56% of respondents said that they are aware exercise helps their performance in the office, but they feel work prevents them from doing enough.

Striking a healthy work-life balance is a problem many struggle with, and allowing the balance to slip too much towards work is not uncommon. In our globally interconnected world, our ability to turn off our computer and leave the emails until tomorrow has vanished, and now many of us check work emails constantly – some of us don’t even get a break on our journey home anymore, with smartphones and mobile connectivity.

You have the power

Despite the fact that working long hours may benefit your bank balance, not finding the time for physical activity or sacrificing your family life is not going to help your health and wellbeing in the long run.

However, you have the power to implement change! So, for the 20% of members who are worried about their weight, they might choose to walk to work instead of getting the tube, or at least walk some of the way.

The NHS recommends 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week, so leave the crowded Northern Line platform and opt for a brisk walk instead. This gives you fresh air (good for clearing your mind) and exercise is proven to reduce your stress levels. It also removes the pressure of competing for space in a hot, crowded carriage.

Our research also flagged that 40% of members stated that their job impacts their home and family life, and that 43% felt stressed due to work. Prioritising yourself or your family over work is challenging, both in terms of managing your workload or pushing back on demands.

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However, burning yourself out and being stressed will benefit no one, not least because this can often result in a lower standard of work, an altered personality, tension headaches or even heart problems. Therefore, have an open discussion with your manager, and talk about these feelings and possible resolutions (flexible working hours, more realistic deadlines etc). Not telling anyone is the worst thing you can do – starting a dialogue can lead to the problem being resolved effectively.

Park life

No Londoner will get through life ‘stress free’ – there will always be something playing on our minds. However, this year try not to let work overwhelm you: find the time to hit the gym or take a lunchtime walk through one of the beautiful London parks and try to take the stairs at the tube station!

Setting boundaries and communicating your priorities and time constraints will also help you manage expectations, allowing you to set aside time for yourself. Your career is important, but your health is vital if you want to live well. So let 2016 be the year your personal and professional priorities really are balanced.

Nicki Cresswell is wellbeing coordinator for CABA.