Q&A with our cover model, and renowned health blogger, Zanna Van Dijk
Why do you think the balance of work/life is so often off kilter in modern times?
A few years ago, everyone craved more flexibility with how they worked - technology advancements have been brilliant to enable this. Many of us now work in more flexible jobs, we work from home, from coffee shops as well as offices, so there are no boundaries around office hours. The downside is an ‘open all hours’ culture and with it an expectation that you are always available. Being away from your desk is no longer an excuse and we all feel the pressure to respond as soon as we get a message or work request. It becomes increasingly difficult to switch off and it clearly has an impact on non-work life.
There are now so many more jobs that incorporate our hobbies and passions and the lines feel more blurred between what is work and what is down time which really complicates things. I would say finding that balance is very much a work in progress for many of us.
What do you do to try and maintain balance in your life?
This is a tricky one as part of the success of my business is about the interaction between my daily life and my followers. I found myself becoming sucked in to always being available, immediately responding to messages and believing that I had to stay constantly connected in order to grow. A game changer for me was turning off my phone push notifications. It literally changed my life. I realised that allowing time for myself was important and I have become strict about dedicating 30 minutes or so a day, where I do something just for me – it usually involves cooking or being outdoors, but I have realised how important this ‘switch off’ time is.
What do you think the key is to fitting exercise into a busy schedule?
The best way to fit it in, is to actively plan exercise into your schedule, whether it’s in a physical diary or adding an appointment into your calendar on your phone. Planning your exercise means there should be few excuses for not having time. We are all guilty of wasting time doing things that are not important, I think most people would put their hands up to a couple of hours a week of scrolling through social media feeds or even watching exercise video’s online without moving an inch… we should perhaps be more self-aware of what’s important for our well-being. If you can think to yourself – right, exercise is going to make me feel great and I am going to make it a priority, then it is more likely to happen.
Picking the type of exercise that you enjoy will help you to stick with it. You don’t have to be a member of a gym or sports team to make it happen and you don’t have to dedicate hours at a time. A regular 30-minute session is often all you need to make a real difference to your overall health and well-being.
Likewise is the there a top tip you have for eating healthily when the pressure is on?
I am all about the prep. If I know I have a busy week coming up I consciously sit down and plan what I am going to be eating. This means making sure I have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in the house. When you are eating good food, it feels more like a treat, a time to relax rather than eating for hungers’ sake. I always prioritise good quality vegetables and plants because I know that they make me feel great. I’ve also got to realise that being considerate to what I put into my body makes a real difference to the way I feel and how I perform on a daily basis.
What’s your top tip for a more balanced life?
I’m a real believer in self-awareness and reflection. It is all too easy to get swept up in day to day life without ever considering – How am I feeling? Do I need more downtime? Is this a positive way to spend my time? It’s useful to occasionally ask yourself these questions and practice a bit of self-care. It is about identifying your own needs and ensuring you meet them, doing activities which nurture you and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. It could be through physical exercise, mindful activities or even setting boundaries to give yourself time to re-calibrate. It is then more likely that you will catch yourself before over-working and losing the joy out of life.