How to Balance Social Life with Health Goals

by Taylor Smith, CHOP5 Wellness Blogger

Do you feel like your social life is interfering with your health goals? Maybe you feel like there is no time left over in your day to do the things you want to for your physical and mental well-being. If you can relate, you are not alone as most people feel the same way and report that they cannot seem to fit living a healthy lifestyle into their schedules if they want to have a social life. Many people (my past self included) assume that there is not an in between, instead you must pick one. However, I’m here to tell you that balancing a social life with your health intentions is attainable! In the following sections, I will give you advice on how to achieve both.

Tips to Have a Social Life AND Maintain Your Health Intentions

Make Plans Ahead of Time If Possible:

Like myself, many of us live a busy lifestyle. Thus, scheduling ahead of time is a must, whether it is from planning dinner dates with friends to a general time that you will work out. Throughout life experiences, I have realized that it is essential to plan what my general week looks like ahead of time to ensure that I stay organized so I can live my life, while prioritizing my health goals/intentions.

If you fail to have a rough outline of your schedule in advance, especially if you are traveling, it is very easy to get swept up and lose sight of your health intentions. For example, if you have a busy day tomorrow, I recommend planning at least the night before to set you up for a successful day. Maybe you need to figure out when you can get a workout in and what your workout will be to ensure you get one in and don’t waste time figuring it out the day of. Or maybe you have limited time to eat during the day, and you need to either meal prep the day before or research healthy food places near your job. This prep enables you to live your busy lifestyle, while not sacrificing your health goals.

Be Adaptable, But Be Smart:

I have discovered that having a social life and enjoying life can derail you from your health goals IF you let it. I have also learned that it is realistic to have a social life and maintain your health goals.

The key to doing so is being smart in how you navigate it! For instance, if you and your friends are going to be hanging out on a certain day, I highly recommend that you try to plan as much as possible in advance, like the time, activity and place. Knowing these details will allow you to think ahead and keep your health intentions in mind.

For example, if I know the restaurant that I’m going to for a dinner date with friends, I will research the menu in advance to make mindful decisions. I find that having certain menu items already picked out decreases the chance that I will make an impulsive decision on the spot that does not align with my health goals. You may respond to this and say that having a menu item picked out is unrealistic as it is difficult to know what you will be in the mood for that day. To this, I suggest that you pick out various items on the menu, depending on your mood. Maybe one meal is your go-to choice if you want something fresh and light, while another item is your favorite option if you want something more substantial or comforting. Whatever your health goals are, remember that prioritizing them, while being flexible in your social life is possible!

Understand That All Things Can Fit Into Your Lifestyle In Moderation:

It is critical to understand that an “all or nothing” is not necessary to achieve your health goals.

A grey area exists as you can balance a social life with healthy intentions. The piece of advice, “everything in moderation” is the one that ultimately made it possible for me to create a healthy balance between the two. For example, let’s say that 3 different people/groups of friends invited you to go out for drinks this upcoming week. Instead of saying yes or no to all of them, maybe you can pick 1-2 to attend, depending on how alcohol and staying out late fits into your desired lifestyle.

The willingness to say no, think your decisions through/be mindful, and set boundaries is vital to sustaining a balance between social life and health goals.

Be Kind To Yourself & Learn:

Lastly, I have recognized the importance of being kind to yourself throughout the process of finding your own balance with your social life and health goals.

It takes time to establish a balance that works for you. Regretting not going out or going out too much only allows you to discover what aligns with your goals and what does not. It’s all trial and error, but I promise you that being able to live your desired lifestyle and feel like the best version of yourself is worth it. After acknowledging this, you must remember to have grace with yourself if you regret something, like not missing a Friday night with your friends to eating too much at happy hour to not getting a workout in before an event. Having grace with yourself allows you to recognize that you are human, and you will make mistakes, but it is okay because you can learn from them and do better going forward.

Next Steps!

You now have multiple tips to create a realistic balance with social life and health goals. However, I understand that getting a lot of information can be overwhelming. Thus, I suggest implementing one thing at a time, or whatever you can mentally handle. Writing things down on a piece of paper or in the notes app may help you to remember certain tips or plan your schedule. Be creative and open to evolving your lifestyle!