This week’s blog is part one of a two-part series from guest blogger Irene Marth. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and a lifestyle and wellness coach. Irene works to improve the overall quality of life for those she trains and coaches by adapting physical and mental behavior to work with and achieve their lifestyle goals. She shares some insights that will help you stay healthy during the busy season.

We are now in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year as you work toward the tax filing deadline. The tendency for many is to hunker down in their office and in "nose to the grindstone" fashion, work long hours to accomplish their tasks. In trying to save time, good self-care is brushed aside by cutting corners on healthy eating, exercising, and stress relief.

The problem with this approach is that it can make you less productive, sluggish and therefore less time-efficient -- not exactly what you want right now. If this sounds like you, here are three simple but effective tips to help you maintain good energy and stamina and keep you focused and thriving through this prime time.

1. Get up off that chair. We sit way too much! The longer we sit, the more our metabolic processes shut down. Stand up and move around at least every hour. This stimulates blood flow to your muscles and brain, both of which help energize you and increase your focus. It also releases brain chemicals, such as endorphins, that improve your ability to concentrate. Endorphins are natural stimulants. Studies show students who stood up and did jumping jacks before sitting down to take a test had higher scores than those who just sat there. You don't have to do jumping jacks (although you could) but do get up and move.... get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, walk up and down the hallway. Just move. When you sit back down, your brain and muscles will get a boost from the extra blood flow, translating to more energy, creativity, and productivity for the tasks at hand.

2. Feed your body whole, real foods. Remind yourself that you are feeding your body food that nourishes cells down to the minute mitochondria so that your brain and body can perform optimally. What you put into your body directly affects brain function. Don't let high-sugar, white flour, and processed refined foods leave you depleted and fuzzy-brained.

  • Bring easy to snack on fruits, fresh veggies, or nuts - berries, apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots, celery sticks, almonds, macadamia nuts (yes, they are good for you), and walnuts are some good choices.
  • Eat quality proteins and good healthy fats to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you satiated such as grilled chicken, turkey, lean meats, cheese, yogurt, avocados, salads with lemon and olive oil.
  • Hydrate with water and green tea often. Sometimes hunger is mistaken for thirst. Staying hydrated keeps you alert and focused, as well.

3. Breathe! Well of course I have to breathe, you're probably thinking. What I'm talking about is taking a few moments to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Breathing deeply sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.

Close your eyes and inhale and exhale deeply for a few breaths. Picture the air coming up from your toes. This simple step can calm you tremendously, bring you back into the moment and keep you from feeling frazzled and overwhelmed.

Practicing these three simple steps each day will make a big difference in keeping you alert, focused, and thriving through this sometimes stressful and energy depleting time. I challenge you to commit to one, two, or all three beginning TODAY and notice how it makes a difference. Share your comments...I'd love to hear from you.

Irene Marth
Certified Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Wellness Coach