When we think of the word “investment,” we rarely think about our health. Yet, your physical, mental, and emotional well-being is very likely the most important investment you can make. A healthy body means less spending on health care, expensive medications, and sick days that you could have been working throughout.
This investment may initially seem counterintuitive as American corporate culture is all about doing as much as you can in as little time as possible. But in the long run, this cultural attitude is unsustainable. Trust me, bad health will catch up to your wallet.
Invest in Your Body
Your body is a machine just like your car. You would keep your car in tip-top condition to run as long as it can, right? You should do the same for your body. If you were born generally healthy, caring for your body is not that difficult. All you really have to do is exercise, eat vegetables, and sleep enough…right?
Simple as they may be, many people find these things hard to stick to. If you’re career-driven, you may think exercising, sleeping, and making home-cooked meals is a waste of time. But what if being sluggish, malnourished, and fatigued leads you to make bad business decisions, do poorly at work, and miss hours due to staying home sick?
Healthy habits do not happen overnight, so don’t start the year off with a long list of ambitious goals. Instead, build habits slowly and over time, increasing them as you get comfortable. If you really don’t have time, choose your priorities.
Here are some healthy habits you can start with:
- Walk more. Walk during your break, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to work, or even just walk part of the way to work.
- Exercise in bite-sized, 10-minute pieces. Take a break to do a few push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks. It can be just as effective as one long workout.
- Eat at least one home-cooked lunch a week if you’re used to eating out all the time. Then, slowly increase this as you learn to be more efficient at cooking; this will save you money, too!
- Quit smoking and cut back on your vices. Cigarette-smoking is expensive — not to mention harmful — habit, and alcohol and drugs aren’t cheap either.
- Don’t put off visiting the doctor —you don’t want that minor ailment to flare into something more serious.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Those extra hours spent staying up and looking at your phone aren’t worth it if your next day is going to be miserable.
Invest in Your Mind
Mental health is getting more press exposure these days, but many of us are still reluctant to seek help when we need it. Remember that people are more productive when they’re happy. Troubles you deal with outside the office can flow into your work, and your colleagues will notice.
Don’t be afraid to seek help if negative emotions are encroaching on the things you need to do. You don’t have to approach a therapist right away. Visit your family doctor, who can rule out an underlying health condition that may be giving you symptoms of depression. Therapy is time-consuming and expensive. If you don’t want to invest in it, there are plenty of online resources available for free. Many cognitive behavioral therapy exercises can be done on your own. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based form of therapy with a high success rate.
When You Get Sick…
Inevitably, at some point, you’ll get sick. Even the strongest immune systems can’t hold off everything. Here are a few more tips to prevent and treat illness in financially-savvy ways:
- Buy generic medication, and buy it online from a Canadian pharmacy referral service like Rx Connected or Canada Med Pharmacy. Health-care systems outside of the USA tend to have stricter price controls on their pharmaceutical drugs, and generic and brand-name drugs are required by law to work the same.
- Get vaccinated, and stay up-to-date on your immunizations to avoid contagious diseases like seasonal influenza, measles, hepatitis, and meningitis. Yes, there’s an up-front cost, but hospital fees can be worse.
- Maintain good sanitation habits. Wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and cook food to a proper temperature.
- Maintain good safety habits. Wear a helmet, wear your seatbelt, don’t drink and drive…these all sound like common-sense things, but you would be surprised to know how many people don’t keep up with them and end up in the hospital with painful injuries and a painful wallet.
- Stay home if you get sick. You’ll recover faster, your colleagues will thank you, and before you know it, you’ll be up and about doing amazing work again.
There are some health-care costs you can’t help, and in those situations, you’ll be thankful for the savings you’ve made following good habits. Many people only see the short-term costs of prioritizing your body and mind, when in the long term, investing in your well-being is likely the best investment you’ll ever make.