After reading a book called "Sleep Smarter" by Shawn Stevenson every single night before my bedtime, the contents of this book have literally changed my life for the better. Not only do Stevenson's life tips provide me with a fresh new perspective of how we should treat sleep as a luxury and not as a dreaded chore, but this entire book made me rethink about the quality of my entire life as well. If you need a good read or want to improve your sleep, I highly suggest purchasing this book that I'll link for you guys here (psst, "Sleep Smarter" book review coming to the blog later - stay tuned!).
For the last few years, I have always been sucked into this vortex that is social media and to be honest, I was not too happy about it. By staring at my phone screen almost 24/7 for work-related purposes, I did not like how people (this includes strangers, a few family members, and various friends) labeled my work field, and thus me, as "superficial" and "vain", without really getting to know me or knowing what the responsibilities of my field entails. When people see multiple selfies or #ootd shots on my page, they think "she's full of herself" or "why can't she get a real job" versus what really goes down. As hard-working influencers, we do not capture photos of ourselves for superficial or ego-boosting purposes (okay, I'll be honest - some people do...but that's just lame if that's their only reason to be on social media), but we do it to continuously create content and build a strong portfolio so that we can partner up with various brands where we can help promote a product, service, or location to our target audience. In other words, social media marketing is the new form of advertising these days and it really works - just not a lot of people know about it still. Also, it's part of our job to be taking photos all the damn time, although those who aren't social media savvy wouldn't understand this task at all.
Also, by working as a content creator, there is no real break unless you create one for yourself. People would often tell me, "Why don't you just take a break? It's not that hard to do" but no, it's much harder than you think. It's not a job where you can clock-in at 9:00AM and clock-out at 5:00PM - it's just not that simple. In fact, social media is one of the most emotionally draining fields to work in, and if you're in it, you know just how much responsibility it takes to manage a business Instagram account or juggle collaboration emails, photoshoots, and blog posts. However, enough of my mini rant - let's just get to the main point about why I'm writing this post.
Because of the reality behind working in the social media industry, I'll be honest that it's definitely a difficult career choice to stick to because this is one of the fields that follow you from when you head home from a coffee shop or when your head hits the pillow. As a social media influencer, your brain is hardwired to create content 24/7, and thus, it is hard for us influencers to easily separate when to enjoy the moment versus when to document it on Instagram for work-related reasons. Because of the freelance lifestyle of this industry and the self-discipline that comes with it, I'll be honest when I say that I allowed several factors to fall out of my control just so I can manage my Instagram account on the daily - sleep, diet, exercise, you name it.
By discovering this book per a recommendation from a good friend, "Sleep Smarter" has opened up my perspective of the world in which we live in and how so much has changed throughout generations (for example, compare how the beginning of humanity never used electronics versus how everybody cannot live without their phones today). Furthermore, this book has taught me to become more aware of my actions and what I need to do to gain control of my life again. Long story short, let's just say that this book made me a lot more zen. After reading this book, I suddenly had this "wake-up call" that urged me to change a LOT of my current actions and to allow myself to steer the direction of my life again, not social media. At the end of the day, just one little change can make a huge difference in the long run. As soon as I improved my sleep thanks to this helpful novel, I was motivated enough to change other aspects of my life and now I feel like I'm on an all-time high to continue implementing the most healthiest changes for both my body and mind. If you're interested in what changes I've made to my life to make me my most healthiest self today, keep on reading! Remember, just a little bit goes a long way.
1. Get more massages.
I know, I know - massages are PRICEY. I get it. But, just because something is pricey, does not mean it is unattainable. When it comes to investing on something grand that costs more than 15 McDonalds Happy Meals, you need to consider a few questions:
- Is the money I invest in this purchase benefitting me in some way?
- Is this purchase going to elevate my mood or improve my health?
- Is my body stiff/sore from constant exercise or from a 9-5 cubicle job?
- Can I budget my finances accordingly to save up for this purchase? (Ex: Can I sacrifice a Starbucks coffee per day and make my coffee at home to treat myself to a luxurious and therapeutic experience by the end of the month?)
If you can answer YES to all of these questions, then sure enough - a massage is calling your name! It just all comes down to prioritization and budgeting. If you value your health and care about your body, you will make a bigger effort to treat yourself to the spa once in a while versus spending mindlessly on unnecessary purchases that you don't really need in your everyday life.
Also, quick tip for those who love massages, but don't want to break the bank - I often look on GroupOn for discounted massage vouchers. Let's just say that I've been a very happy camper with every GroupOn purchase that I have made when it comes to massage vouchers, and I have purchased anywhere from 3-5 massage vouchers on GroupOn from various businesses that had 4 stars or more on Yelp. Just be sure to look up the business name on Yelp for legitimate and trustworthy reviews from other customers so that you know you will be treating yourself to a stress-free and memorable experience.
2. Invest time and money in an exercise routine that you enjoy.
From Planet Fitness to LA Fitness to my current membership at LifeTime, I've seen it all. I've bounced among three gym memberships within the last year and that tells me something - I was not satisfied with my gym experience. Although I was hitting the gym for hours per week, I was not seeing the results I wanted. And as much as I know that diet plays a HUGE role in losing weight and being healthy, deep down, I still wasn't satisfied with my current exercise routine. I worked out aimlessly, without a dire motivation to challenge myself with every strength training routine. I did not sweat as hard as I did from my previous hip hop practices and no matter how much I dedicated myself to hitting the gym four to five times a week to endure a 1.5-hour strength training & cardio sesh, it wasn't enough.
Eventually, I learned with time that the only way I am super excited to workout is when I attend cardio or strength training CLASSES and this is offered all at LifeTime. To reiterate, I have taken classes at LifeTime spontaneously throughout the last couple of years, but could never get myself to join due to the high price point of $139/month. I just couldn't justify it. I mean, that's a lot of money for a gym - not gonna lie! However, when I broke everything down to how I felt before/after class to how much I sweat per class to the positive vibes I got upon entering LifeTime, I knew that this was the gym I was looking for all along. Even after just one hour of class, I can guarantee you that I am always sweating like a pig. Not only do I love the positive and supportive vibes from each instructor, but I enjoy the feeling of a good workout sesh in the presence of good company (my friends signed up for this gym as well, making it all the more fun!). Because I am finally happy to workout and FEEL a miraculous different with each class, the overall investment is worth every penny in my opinion.
3. Set your bedtime by 10:00PM & stay away from your electronics one hour before bed.
After I finish reading "Sleep Smarter", I am SO excited to write a book review on this life advice novel because every chapter has seriously changed my life! I will not go into major detail about sleeping smarter because a recap of the book will come soon in a future blog post, but what I can say is that your mobile devices, laptops, and TV screens play a huge role in disrupting your normal sleep cycles. Long story short, as soon as I put away my phone around 9:30 - 10:00PM, started reading from 10:00PM - 11:00PM, and head to bed at 11:00PM, I have always slept like a baby without insomnia getting the best of me. And trust me, this is coming from who I thought was an incurable insomniac (cough - I'm talking about myself) who kept rolling around in her bed from 10:00PM - 2:00AM. By ditching the electronics, I am able to successfully fall asleep almost instantly and wake up every day feeling energized and ready to tackle the day!
4. Satisfy your hanger with healthy, real foods.
Hangry? We have all been there before. Whenever I am with friends or family, I constantly joke that I am hangry, but little do they know...I'm somewhat serious, LOL. When it comes to eating healthier or dieting, I would never, ever suggest starving because starvation will eventually lead you to eat unhealthy junk foods that your brain craves for a quick energy boost. If you are truly hungry, reach for real foods - aka things that grow outdoors or in Mother Nature versus being processed in a factory or combined with a lot of other artificial ingredients.
I have added a lot of healthy recipes to my blog as of lately, but one homemade recipe that I highly suggest hopping on is the Grain Bowl. Find the recipe here to get your daily dose of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Yum!
5. Take real breaks.
A real break does not include going to the bathroom or scrolling through your Instagram feed to see if you got 10 new likes on your most recent photo. Instead, a real break means temporarily getting away from your office and putting yourself in a whole new environment.
As much as I used to count "Instagram scrolling" or "bathroom breaks" as part of my work break, it really isn't a real break if you come to think of it. By taking these useless "breaks", I felt burnt out and drained throughout the work day because I never properly assigned myself an official, legitimate break.
A real break includes eating a meal at your own pace without the use of your cellular device, chatting with friends/family, walking outdoors around the neighborhood or your office building, taking a quick nap, and much more.
Since I work from home, my work breaks differ a little from the average 9-5 person. Various examples of work breaks I take include helping cook lunch or dinner for myself or the family, hitting the gym for an hour, walking the dogs around the neighborhood, just literally sitting on a couch with Muffin doing nothing for 15 minutes, throwing a ball in the pool for JB to swim to, etc. Honestly, just a little break away from your office can do wonders in improving your work efficiency and productivity. Because we look at our cellphones or laptops a lot these days, I try my best to ditch the electronics during my break so that my eyes feel more refreshed and rejuvenated when I have to return back to my devices for work.
6. Drink more water.
As if health experts or your mom has not advised this enough, stay hydrated friends. I noticed on days where I did not drink enough water, I felt dehydrated, which led to annoying headaches and dizziness that only interrupted my work productivity. Thus, if you are trying to stay focused and energized throughout your entire day, keep a reusable water bottle by your side at all times so that you reach for water - sometimes I drink water without even thinking about it! Now that's the beauty in owning a reusable water bottle.
Recently, I've been using my Contigo and take it with me EVERYWHERE - my desk, the gym, my nightstand, you name it. You can purchase my Contigo here in a beautiful mint color.
7. Clocking out of work at a certain time (if you work freelance or are an entrepreneur).
This seventh point goes hand-in-hand with Tip #3. Before, I always used to wonder why I constantly felt burnt out and drained - this was because I had no "off" button and used all of my free time trying to catch up on "extra" deadlines. In the end, this is actually counterproductive because the quality of my work just decreased, despite giving my work so much time. By knowing when to clock out each day and give yourself a break for the remainder of the day, you allow your body and mind to rest and prepare for the next day ahead. If you continue to overwork an individual and don't provide proper rest/breaks, there's only so much that he/she can do before his/her work productivity, creativity, and efficiency begin to decline.
As an entrepreneur or freelancer in the creative field, you must remember that there will ALWAYS be work to take care of and there will never be an end to it. But don't think of this negatively - think of this realistically instead. Instead, what you can remind yourself of is to work as hard as possible every single day, reward yourself with a much necessary break and leisure time (gym, massages, mani-pedi, meditation, dinner with friends, etc.) and you'll eventually get to where you want to be.
The most successful formula in life is work-life balance. If you surround yourself with too much work or playtime, you won't get very far in what you're trying to accomplish. However, if you learn to balance the two well, then you'll only leave room for more window of opportunities and success.
8. Pick up yoga (or meditation) whenever you have free time.
Honestly, I used to correlate yoga with the terms "slow" and "boring" because that's how I viewed the movements (sorry yogis of the world!). But, that is coming from an oblivious and ignorant Michelle back then. After taking my first yoga class this previous weekend with friends at LifeTime, I honestly enjoyed every minute of my one-hour yoga class. Yes, yoga is a very "slow" and "chill" class, but a yoga room creates a very tranquil and problem-free ambiance that one needs when surrounded by a high-stress job or environment.
What I love most about yoga is the fact that you can temporarily get away from all the stresses of life (work, relationships, finances, etc.) and focus on what truly matters in that 60-minute time frame - the words of your instructor, the tranquil music, your body/mind. Not only does the calm, soothing music allow you to enter a very zen state of mind, but yoga is a great way to work out all of the kinks in your body when you spend the majority of your life working in front of a computer or working out. After dying from two one-hour classes back-to-back last Sunday, yoga was the third class that saved my aching muscles from collapsing on me that day. With yoga class, I was able to give my body the time and place to stretch and recover from the daily stresses of life and felt rejuvenated right after.
Regarding meditation, you have to be really disciplined and be in a quiet environment to do this consistently. I've only tried meditation once and I'll be honest that it's not for me (in other words, I can't picture myself meditating alone unless a friend joined me), but what I can say is that it really works. If you allow yourself 10 minutes to meditate, you allow your mind to approach internal stress factors or problems that you are currently dealing with and accept these problems for what they are. In other words, meditation allows you to be at ease and helps you approach problems in a calm, accepting state versus reacting in a panicked frenzy.
If you have 10 minutes in a day to meditate or an hour to head to a nearby yoga class, I'd highly recommend it to improve the health of your body and mind.
Ever since I've implemented these positive changes to my health and everyday lifestyle, I love sharing with you guys what works for me, with you! Let me know in the comments section below which tip resonated with you most - let's chat!
Jumpsuit: Julia Jordan NYC