This is the age-group that I see most often in my office. The "9 to 5'ers" -- although these days, I wonder if many people are really working just 8 hours. In Toronto, when we take into consideration just travel time, most people are "working" at least 10 hours a day!! Does this cause health concerns.... YES!!! Luckily, many simple strategies can help adults deal with the day-to-day stresses that come with our busy lifestyles.
These days, most of us are spending numerous hours in front of computers. I really don't know what happens with more frequency: the number of times that our computers crash, or the number of times that adults do!
The number one concern that I hear from adults is LOW ENERGY! This low energy is often due to a combination of long working hours, poor eating habits and poor sleep. Let's look at each of these areas individually.
Long Working Hours: Sometimes we have control over these hours (i.e., they are self-inflicted) and many times these hours are imposed upon us by employers or deadlines that need to be met. The eye strain that is caused by too much time in front of a computer can be remedied by making sure that you look away from the computer at least once per hour (even if it's only for a minute). People can strengthen their eye muscles if they first look at something at a distance (a picture on the wall will do) for approximtely 10 seconds, and then at something near (perhaps a memo on your desk) for another 10 seconds -- repeat this cycle about 3 times in each session/hour. This reminds your eye muscles to accomodate the different distances and prevent visual damage. In terms of physical exhaustion from long hours, make sure you are incorporating some exercise into your daily/weekly routine (even brisk walking or stretching is useful), and of course, make sure you are getting nutrients (i.e., eating!) to meet your body's energy demands throughout your day!
Poor Eating Habits: How many of you are eating in a rush? Or perhaps you are limited to fast food during lunch because you don't have time to sit and eat a "real meal?" The way in which you eat your meal will determine how well the food will digest in your system. When you are physically stressed, the body will spend more energy on your muscles to make sure that you can physically function throughout your day; digestive energy will be limited. This means if you eat "on the run" so to speak, you will often end up feeling bloated, fatigued or gassy because of poor digestion. So basically, even if you're getting the best food choices into your system, you will not be absorbing most of the nutrients from the food. Remember to eat in a calm environment (mentally and physically) for optimum digestion. Even if you can only schedule 30 minutes for lunch during your day -- eat it in peace.
Poor Sleep: Many of my patients are quite aware of their less-than-perfect sleeping patterns. Some have difficulty falling asleep, some have difficulty staying asleep, and some sleep, but awake unrested. What we all have to remember is that sleeping is the time during which our bodies do the most repair. So if we're living stressful lives and not sleeping, the body cannot recuperate the energy that is lost during the day. I'm not of the belief that everyone needs "8 hours" of sleep per night; some need less and some more. But I do strongly believe that you are getting enough sleep if you awaken refreshed and rested. Meditation or breathing exercises can help immensely right before bedtime to encourage a good night's sleep.
If you MUST work late, make sure you have some high-energy snacks with you to keep you awake. Proteins usually work well for people, while carbohydrates will often leave you feeling more tired, and likely to need a nap! Remember that although power-naps can be very useful in the daytime, in the evening these naps will often throw off a good night's sleep.