Why We Don’t Prioritize Our Physical Health

Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up. We’re so focused on our work that we forget to drink enough water, we skip lunch too many times in a row, or we sit staring at a screen all day. 

Being career-motivated and passionate about what you do can often mean putting your work and/or your clients before your physical health. 

In this week’s Cup of Joy episode, Elizabeth and Laine explore the complexities behind the question of why it’s so hard for us to prioritize our physical health.

The intersection between career and physical health is often ignored. Similarly, the idea that career comes before physical health is normalized. 

Elizabeth: “When I think of all of the folks who I’ve worked with, had conversations with, the folks we have in Joy Society, this idea of the intersection of professional success and physical health really seems to span most folks who are in the professional world at all, even if you’re not in a leadership role. I think part of it is workplace culture. Even if you work in an organization where you have strong organizational culture, which we know aren’t very many organizations, we just tend to come sit down. Or, even if you have a more physically engaging job, you get to work and then you kind of get on a roll. And then the next thing you know, you haven’t eaten lunch, you haven’t drank any water, you haven’t gotten up, you probably aren’t going to the restroom as often as you need to. And so there’s a real cost that’s paid when it comes to our physical health as professionals. And so that’s what we’re talking about today. It can take a toll in many ways. 

physical health

Sitting at a desk all day is known to have serious negative consequences on our bodies. These consequences don’t always appear right away, making them easy to ignore until it’s too late.

Elizabeth: “This is just a battle that I’ve had. I tend to put personal to-dos, even if they’re really important, behind all the work to-dos that are important. And part of this is being a business owner because every work to-do is critical when you own a business, but personal to-dos end up being doctor’s appointments, getting my medications refilled. And so I’ve been saying I’m going to do better and I’m happy to report as of today, I’m actually really working on being intentional. 

So, what would it look like if we made a choice to stop choosing between our careers and our physical health? What if we truly can have the career success we dream of AND physical well-being?

The first step is often awareness. The more aware we become of the ways in which we prioritize our work over our health, the more we are able to make positive changes.

In addition to changing behaviors, it’s also about changing mindsets. Instead of thinking that an hour lunch break is an hour away from clients that need you, try thinking about how much more you will be able to do for your clients once you are refreshed and energized from a healthy lunch. Ask yourself: do I really need to stay an extra hour at work to finish up the day’s projects, or will I be more efficient if I stop working now and come back tomorrow, well-rested?

It is deeply engrained in our culture that in order to be successful in our professional lives, we have to make sacrifices in all other areas. While it’s true that career success does require periods of intensity, true success is more than a job title or a salary. True success means achieving career goals while equally prioritizing physical well-being

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