It's normal to feel like you don't have enough time to make healthy choices - we're all busy, all the time, and sometimes it's easier to grab a cereal bar on your way to work than make a healthy omelette. But making healthy choices can boost your energy levels, leave you feeling happier and of course, improve your overall health - the key is to start small. You can lead a busy life and still be healthy, just take on board some small changes. These 41 tips will help, and we don't mind how many you try; pick the ones that you think you can stick to and go from there!
#1. Exercise at work
"I don't have time to workout," you moan after another 12 hour day in the office. We hear you, we've all been there - but you DO have time! On deadline days, fitting in a workout at the gym is near impossible, but you can still exercise at your desk! Stretches, squats and other easy moves can be done in minutes, anywhere.
#2. Embrace interval training
When you're busy, working out is often the last thing on your mind. But a short, high-intensity workout could be more effective than an hour at the gym - just 20 minutes of regular exercise will give you an energy boost!
#3. Make TV time about fitness
If it's a challenge to tear yourself away from the latest episode of Black Sails, or if you're finally getting around to watching Breaking Bad in its entirety, you can try our Couch Core Workout to get fit whilst you watch!
#4. Mix it up
The quickest way to break your gym habit is to get bored with your workout. Variety is the key, so try new workouts and sign up for classes. Why not try Yoga, Pilates or even boxing? This also helps you to make the most of your gym membership.
#5. Workout your whole body
#6. Get a walking workout
Sneaking some exercise into your day is easy - chances are you get the bus or train to work, sit at your desk all day and then commute home. Why not get off the bus or train a stop early, walk to work, use the stairs or run errands on your lunchbreak? These little things can all add up and help you to stay healthy.
#7. Rent a locker
Renting a locker at your gym is a great way to avoid the tired excuse of 'I forgot my gym gear.' Store spare training shoes, clothes and anything else you need at the gym so you're always ready for a quick workout!
#8. Keep it simple
You don't have to be the next Jamie Oliver to create simple, three-ingredient dishes that are ideal for quick, healthy meals. Sweet potatoes with a range of fillings (try chicken or tuna for a protein boost) or chilli con carne are easy to whip up in minutes, plus you'll save on your weekly shop!
#9. Stick with soup
Soup is a great comfort food, and it will save you time and money - if you make your own. Load yours up with plenty of vegetables (fresh or frozen) for a super-healthy midweek meal. Making a big batch in advance and freezing individual portions ensures you'll always have a healthy dinner on hand - why not try one of our recipes?
#10. Get organised
Sometimes all that slicing, dicing and cooking can be a bit much after a hard day at work. So prep vegetables in advance on the weekend, cook dishes for your freezer, pre-cook rice or quinoa or whip up a tasty salad dressing or stir fry sauce ready for use in the week. Weeknight meals were never so easy!
#11. Pre-pack your smoothies
Prepping smoothie ingredients means you'll be a step closer to your five-a-day with minimal effort. Add your fruit, protein powder (if using) and vegetables to a Ziploc bag or tupperware tub and store in the fridge! Or freeze ready-sliced fruit for a delicious, thick, frosty smoothie.
#12. Take time out to eat
Snacking or wolfing down lunch mindlessly in front of your PC can be tempting when a deadline is looming, but you may end up enjoying your food less, or even eating more than you need to, if you're not focused. Take time out to eat; slow down and breathe between bites and your body will tell you when it's full!
#13. Add some veg
Adding vegetables to anything and everything helps you get your five-a-day and boosts the nutritional content of your favourite dishes. Try our recipe for sweet potato brownies or blend kale or spinach into your mashed potato for a vitamin C and iron boost.
#14. Fill up on protein
When hunger strikes, handy snacks such as crisps, biscuits and chocolate bars are so convenient. But by ensuring you eat plenty of protein with every meal, you should feel fuller for longer and be able to resist those sugary, fatty snacks!
#15. Keep healthy snacks handy
An emergency supply of healthy snacks makes it less likely you'll chow down on the nearest available option. Nakd bars, dried fruit, nuts or trail mix are all good options.
#16. Take a packed lunch
Taking your own packed lunch to work is a great idea - not only are you saving money, you're making a healthier choice, plus you can take whatever you like. Simple salads, wraps and soups are easy to make the night before or at the weekend, and you can enjoy them all week.
#17. Invest in a slow cooker
A busy lifestyle demands a slow cooker, and they're seeing a surge in popularity lately! Just chuck in the ingredients of your choice before you head to work, turn it on and come home to a delicious healthy stew, soup or meat dish.
#18. Make it spicy
Using condiments such as mustard and chilli sauce (try Sriracha) not only lifts the flavour of your food, it can also help to boost your metabolism. Avoid creamy condiments such as mayonnaise and salad cream and add spice instead!
#19. Avoid constant snacking
When you're super-busy, it can feel like there's no time to sit down for a meal. Grazing on olives, pretzels, nuts and fruit throughout the day might feel healthy, but it won't leave you feeling your best and you could actually end up consuming more calories. Make sure you find time to sit down for three meals a day - there are loads of quick, easy ideas on our recipes page.
#20. Get it delivered
It might cost a little more than your average weekly shop, and you'll still have to cook, but recipe boxes packed with pre-planned recipes and the ingredients you'll need to make them are all the rage! No planning or grocery shopping required - the box is delivered to your doorstep.
#21. Avoid bar snacks
After a long day poring over a project at your desk, bar snacks such as crisps, nuts, olives and even a bowl of chips can call your name. If you do go for after-work drinks, stick to just a couple and avoid bar snacks. Instead, try to eat a protein-packed meal or healthy snack before hitting the bar, or order a soup or salad once you arrive.
#20. Make bedtime meditation time
Raised stress levels can negatively impact your sleep, so take 5 minutes out to meditate at bedtime - not only will you sleep better, you'll be more productive tomorrow.
#21. Reduce your stress levels
Constant stress can leave you feeling worn out and can even make you ill. Rather than turning to alcohol or junk food, try green tea, breathing exercises, a warm lavender bath or going for a short, brisk walk.
#22. Keep on top of your to-do list
Little things like paying bills and cleaning the house can easily be forgotten when you're busy, which could leave you feeling even more stressed. Make a to-do list so you can stay on top of everything.
#23. Be more productive
Productivity can take a hit if you're easily sidetracked by, say, social media. Schedule a couple of 30-minute breaks in your day where you can check social media or get on with whatever else is distracting you - then it's time to get back to work.
#24. Take a well-earned holiday
Before you say you don't have time for a holiday; you do! Everyone deserves some time off, and when you come back, you'll be happier, healthier and more energised.
#25. Drink more water
Many of us are dehydrated without even realising it. Drinking around 8 glasses of water a day can help to keep you focused and energised - keeping a water bottle at your desk can help remind you.
#26. Turn off your phone
Your phone can really eat into your downtime, and your work time! Social media means we're now more connected than ever before, so put your phone on silent and store it in a drawer at work, turning it off when you get home.
#27. Set yourself goals
Setting personal and professional goals can help you to grow as a person. Monthly (realistic) goals give you something to aim for and help keep you motivated - why not ask a friend to check your progress!
#28. Talk to someone
Speaking to someone about your problems and your life can be really beneficial for your mental health, whether you see a therapist or speak to a friend you trust. A bit of positive feedback or someone else's view on a specific situation could help you to feel less stressed.
#29. Try yoga
Whilst you're meditating, why not incorporate some yoga moves for a sense of wellbeing? Even yoga stretches first thing in the morning can help you to detox your body and feel more energised.
#30. Stop sweating the small stuff
At the end of every day, do you lie awake in bed going over the events of the day in your head and worrying about what's in store for tomorrow? Stop it - you'll only find it harder to sleep, which will leave you feeling worn out. Make a habit of writing down anything that's worrying you during the evening, and then switch off totally when you go to bed - there will be plenty of time to worry about tomorrow when it comes!
#31. Take time out for things you enjoy
Ok, so you might not have a lot of time, but being happy is vital if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle. Taking just 5-10 minutes out of your day for an activity you enjoy can make all the difference - whether that's reading your new book, doing a crossword puzzle or catching up with a friend on the phone.
#32. Adopt positive mantras
Positive mantras can help you to be happier and healthier, and everyone has time to fit them into their day. Try reciting one (in your head) whilst brushing your teeth or showering in the morning, or you could record some to listen to on your morning commute!
#33. Stay active
We're happiest when we are busy, so avoid the temptation to slump on the sofa whenever you have a bit of free time. Stay active and fill what little free time you have with hobbies and pursuits which energise and inspire you - they don't have to be exhausting. From yoga to knitting, running to learning a new language, there are plenty of ways to engage your body and mind.
#34. Be more social
Isolating yourself when you're busy with work can lead to increased stress levels and even depression - it's important to keep up with friends even when you're pushed for time. You don't have to meet up in person if you're incredibly busy - social media, Skype or a quick phonecall work just as well.
#35. Play with the kids
If you have young children, you probably feel like you're in a constant cycle of work and sleep deprivation, and finding the energy to exercise or look after yourself can be tough. Combine your workout with a day playing with the kids - take them swimming or cycling - and you'll get fitter and healthier whilst spending time with the family!
#36. A little of what you fancy does you good
Healthy eating is important, but we're happiest when we can have a little treat now and then - plus you're more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan if you're allowed a sweet or savoury treat. Whether it's a cup of tea and a biscuit, a scoop of your favourite ice cream or a meal out with friends, allow yourself occasional treats!
#37. Practise being grateful
Being healthy and happy doesn't come easy, so be grateful for the things you have in your life. Sometimes we take little things, like a hot shower, a delicious dinner and a roof over our heads, for granted, and it shouldn't be this way. Try keeping a gratefulness diary to write down three things you're grateful for every day - you'll soon notice the positive effect this can have on your mood!
We know we've mentioned holidays already, but taking time off to travel is vital if you want to stay happy and healthy. Whilst backpacking across Thailand is sure to expand your cultural horizons, travelling in the UK or Europe works just as well to boost your mood and give you a break from the stress of everyday life.
#39. Make your home beautiful
Finding the time to do chores at home can be tricky if you have a fully-packed schedule, but little things like a freshly cut bunch of flowers or a scented candle can make all the difference when it comes to feeling happy at home. Your bathroom may not be the cleanest, and your floor may need vacuuming, but your home feels bright and cheerful - and it only takes a minute to achieve!
#40. Get a new job
If you're feeling fed up of work, work, work all the time, maybe you need a new job? Before you start saying you don't have time to search for one, sign up with some recruitment agencies in your area - they'll do the legwork for you and contact you with vacancies which are suitable for your skillset. Finding a new job can improve your health and happiness, and give you more free time to put these other tips into practise!
#41. Pamper yourself
A weekly massage or beauty treatment does more than just make you look good, it helps you relax, unwind and let go of negativity. Make time in your busy schedule for some 'me' time, whether it's for a treatment at a salon, a massage at home (try London's latest Urban Massage app) or even a pampering session in your bathroom!
READ THIS NEXT: Why you're never too busy to exercise