You’re in DC because you can matter. The work you do and the life you lead are important. You move fast, make important decisions, and work hard to stay a step ahead in one of the most competitive places on Earth.
What is it doing to your health, though? Your health isn’t just about how thin you are or how nice your skin looks, after all. Your body and mind need holistic care and that means that you need to cultivate a healthy lifestyle. DC living can be very counterproductive in that department. It’s high time that you took stock of your DC lifestyle and reconsidered some of the things that may be bringing you down.
The quick and the dead
DC’s reputation is well-known all around the world. There’s no place for the slow and thoughtless in this cutthroat town. The average work week in Washington, DC, including commuting time, is a jaw-dropping 48 hours and 39 minutes.
That doesn’t leave much time for anything else, especially considering that “off the clock” has a very different meaning here in the district. Sure, we might head to happy hour or out to dinner after work, but make no mistake: It’s in these places where some of the most important work in DC is done. These are the places where big political deals are hashed out and major business decisions are made. While all of this happens, the booze tends to be flowing pretty freely: DC has the highest concentration of heavy drinkers in the entire country.
If we do go straight home, we may be too tired to cook. Perhaps we’ll call one of DC’s many takeout or delivery places. And when the weekend finally comes, DC residents tend to keep working: They bring work home with them on Friday or work jobs that demand that they come in on weekends. As for vacations, well, that’s a nationwide problem. Americans just don’t seem to take enough time off.
Fighting for health and wellness
Your physical health and mental wellness are all-important. Without sound body and mind, you won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your labors or, for that matter, work effectively in the first place. If you’re going to make it in DC and in life, you need to make some changes.
That starts with breaking the cycle of hard work and hard play. Work-life balance is a hard thing to find when you’re in a cutthroat business like finance or politics, but DC residents need to do their best to carve out times and places where work can be pushed to the side. Perhaps most important of all is that oft-neglected vacation. Studies show that vacations are healthy, improve our mood, and actually make us more productive at work.
Daily habits matter, too. Examine your “habit loops,” or the patterns that lead to you choosing to hit the bar or eat a bunch of unhealthy takeout. What triggers lead to these outcomes? Can you replace the “reward” portion of your habit loops with healthier choices?
If you can, DC will become a much healthier place for you. You can’t do this alone, though. You’ll need the help of trained medical professionals to keep yourself on track. Most of us have no issue with heading to the doctor regularly, so this should be an easy one. Don’t forget about your mental health, though, says one Washington DC psychologist. Just as you need regular care for your body, you need regular care for your mind, too.
This doesn’t mean that you have to go on mental health medication — there’s no reason to do that unless a psychiatrist or other doctor recommends it. You should keep in mind that even those of us without mental health issues can benefit enormously from therapy. Therapy can lower stress levels, improve relationships, and help us better understand why we think what we think and behave how we behave.
DC isn’t always the healthiest place, but your DC lifestyle is something that you can control. Make the right choices and put the emphasis on your health and wellness.