Staying Alive At Your 9-5
Here it is, as promised, a post on how to cope with the hectic mess of working from 9-5.
In reality, no one wants to actually spend 8 hours of their day sitting in a cold office only to return home with barely any time to dedicate to the self-care we’re all supposed to be practicing. Working 9-5 can be difficult, especially when you just finished having classes in intervals throughout the day, at your choosing, with naps in-between, or whenever you could sneak them in. Unfortunately, ain’t no napping at work and lunch breaks are often a rushed 30 minutes of eating that somehow are supposed to including getting food…while everyone else is also rushing to get food??
So, hopefully, these tips I’ve garnered after experimenting on myself and my body’s reluctance to this 9-5 lifestyle, can help you in your own workplace.
1. BUY A THERMOS AND WATER BOTTLE:
A thermos is a great way to have your morning coffee (or tea because I am not a coffee drinker), without having to spend ridiculous prices just because you wanted 4 more ounces of liquid. If you don’t have time to make coffee or tea in the morning, consider making it the night before and reheating it in the morning. As far as tea goes, this is okay and everything tastes the same. I don’t know if reheated coffee is gross so that’s not my territory to speak on but just a tip.
Water, water, water. You hear fitness gurus talk about it all of the time, and as a gym rat myself, I cannot stress enough the importance of water. For those days when you’re completely exhausted from, well just about everything, water can be a helpful tool you didn’t even know you were lacking. Oftentimes, we’re way more dehydrated than we think. Drinking enough water can improve the growth of your skin, hair, and nails, decrease bloating, clear your mind, boost your overall mood, and so much more! But! Most importantly! Drinking enough water gives you the energy to get throughout the day. Nalgene water bottles are perfect for this because they help you monitor how much water you’re drinking. And if you can’t stand the tasteless taste of water, try adding lemon, or a flavored mixer to help you get in the 8 cups you need. So if you can be thirsty over some boy or a girl on Instagram, you can be thirsty for some water. Go get a bottle and get sipping.
2. MEAL PREP: How To Avoid Lunchtime Rush Hour & Traffic?? Meal prepping not only helps you gain discipline over your diet and see what exactly is going into your food, since you’re the one who makes it, but also SAVES MONEY. And youse broke big fella. Do not make the very tempting mistake of spending $4-$6 on breakfast every day or $8 or more for lunch. Just because everyone has Starbucks or Dunkin and looks like they have their lives together doesn’t mean you need to have it. Bring your own tea or make your own coffee, trust me, it’s worth it. I’ll be following up on this with tips for meal-prepping on a budget because all of the Youtube video people seem to shop at Whole Foods with zero credit card limits and that’s not how we rocking. For now, I’ll just say that finding your local farmer’s market can really be helpful when it comes to buying fresh produce.
3. GO TO SLEEP EARLIER: This next tip, I honestly don’t even know how to explain. Go to sleep earlier, y’all. I know that after a long day all you want to do is relax in whatever way you see fit and return to yourself all of those hours you felt were stolen by the day but, the hard part is sometimes that has to wait. I find myself feeling a little crazy as I anticipate the weekends like I did as a child, ready for a moment to relax from the repetition of the week. However, even though I want to binge watch shows on Netflix until 4 am, I can’t. Sleeping is so, so, so important. Your body cannot function properly without an adequate amount of sleep. On average, you should be getting around 7-9 hours of sleep per night. For me, 2 of these 7-9 hours have been spent entertaining my puppy, showering, or scrolling through social media. So I’ve had to practice discipline as I put my phone across the room, shower for a shorter amount of time, and exhaust my puppy so he too, goes back to sleep. Sometimes, 7-9 hours is just not realistic, especially considering 8 hours of the day are going to be dedicated to working, not including the time it takes to get to wherever you work, and the time you need in-between to make sure you’re still an actual person and not just an entity zipping through unending monotony. Not sleeping can also cause stomach fat gain due to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Ashley experiences this. Ashley doesn’t like this. Ashley must sleep more.) If you normally sleep at 1 am, try pushing it back 15-30 minutes and so on and so forth. Help your body gain the energy it needs.
4. PLAN YOUR OUTFITS: If you can’t, like me, take your clothes for the week out in advance then maybe, like me, just have a general pile on the floor of work clothes you can pick and choose from, iron (or not) in the morning and get moving. No, but forreal try to take your clothes out and iron them in advance, it'll make up for the time you lose when you hit snooze on your alarm clock once or twice too many.
5. PICK A DAY OF THE WEEK TO CLEAN EVERYTHING: Sunday is my day to sleep in till about 11am, clean my room, wash, deep condition and braid my hair, paint my nails, wash and fold my laundry, meal prep, and anything else I need to get ready for the week. It’s a good way to start the week off right and reset on any organization you were slacking on the week prior.
BUT KEEPING IT REAL. Sometimes Sunday is the day to sleep in till 1 pm, wash my hair and put it in a bun, want to paint my nails but nah, wash my laundry and push it to the other side of my bed at night, I don’t feel like cooking a whole meal so a pb&j will do, and yeah I basically do nothing. It’s cool though.
Being entirely honest, sometimes these tips and ideas are cute in theory, but are hard as hell to execute. This is a different kind of self-care than the kind that is preached to us via social media with planners and cute mason jars full of convenient meals. In reality, some people don’t have money to meal prep every day of the week and sometimes that $8 spent at Panera or whatever seems much more convenient and worth it. Cooking can also be exhausting if that’s not something you particularly enjoy.
Also, it can be difficult to go to sleep on command when your mind is going insane from the fact that the only thing changing every day are the clothes you’re wearing. It’s been really hard for me to take care of myself and even tend to the goals I’ve put forth lately. I’ve put quite a few things on the back burner as I’ve simply tried to get through each day. On top of that, add the wonders of living in a racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic land of the free and home of the brave and man, well, I just wanna eat fries and chocolate and stay inside all day. But issa no. I ain’t got time. So it’s also a balancing act. I recognized only about three or four days ago that I’m really not taking care of myself in the same ways that I did in undergrad. I’m not sticking to the same routines, I definitely haven’t touched my crockpot to make sure I have lunch, I don’t have enough energy to workout as strenuously as I’d like, and no I’m not gonna dress cute every day, sometimes business casual is literally the bare minimum of looking professional and presentable. I’d like to have nicer professional clothes, but hey, as always, I’m working with what I have.
Sometimes, I get home at 7pm after leaving the house at 7am and being awake since 6am and the last thing I want to do is cook, or eat a meal I’ve been eating for the past four days. I don’t want to spend another 45 minutes scrolling through Netflix for something to watch on Netflix, leaving me with about 3 hours in my day to shower, do my hair and skin care routine (been slacking on this one), wash dishes, play with my dog, and take out time to actually center myself before going to bed and starting all over the next day. Some days I don’t center myself and I float from Tuesday to Wednesday wishing it was Saturday and hating whoever came up with the idea of working from 9am-5pm.
However, self-care, whether it be in college, in “the real world” (I hate this saying btw like everything is the real world, I really went to college, wym like who came up with this), or wherever, is hard. It is not as easy as youtube videos or Instagram posts make it seem. It is not definitive. It does not have an end point. It is an annoying, frustrating, gruesome, uncomfortable, everlasting, evolving process. It is also a beautiful, liberating, spiritual, healthy, and enduring process. Ending with a quote from immortal Maya Angelou: “Nothing will work unless you do.”