Your Healthy Living Guide for Washington, D.C.

Maybe you’re running late for work, or maybe you’re leaving work late. Maybe you’re battling the infamous traffic, or maybe you’ve just barely missed the metro. Maybe you’re drinking a few too many after work with colleagues, or maybe you’re waking up with the consequences of that late-night work-and-drinks session. Whatever the case, you know the feeling, and you know what you think: One of these days, this city is going to kill me.

You’re half-joking, but there’s some truth to what you’re thinking or muttering. Your D.C. lifestyle really can kill you. Your work-life balance is in shambles, your drinking is a bit beyond the point of being healthy, and you can’t stand the stress and frustration anymore. This is stuff that can literally shorten your life — unless you take control of your D.C. lifestyle and get healthy.

And that’s why we’re here. Below, we’ll lay out what you need to know about living healthy in our nation’s capital.

Cut back on the booze

Washington’s hard-drinking ways are the stuff of legend. This is, by some measures, the single hardest-drinking city in the country. That’s not good, by the way. Experts agree that excessive alcohol use is dangerous, and that can mean either binge drinking or steady drinking (or both, of course), so don’t assume that you’re in the clear just because your daily two after work don’t mess you up too badly.

It’s tough to avoid booze in this city, especially when late-night barroom deals are such a part of the political and business culture. But going sober is a rising trend in Washington, D.C., and the proliferation of booze-free cocktails and non-alcoholic beers can help you cut out booze (or at least pace yourself) without standing out.

Use tricks to eat smarter — at home.

Lots of late-night deals and long hours of the office mean lots of restaurant food and takeout delivered to your desk. That’s bad, because that sort of food is likely to be a lot less healthy than the stuff you cook at home. If you’ve ever wondered why food from restaurants and takeout places is so delicious, wonder no more: It’s loaded up with more butter and salt than anyone wants to think about.

So how can you eat less of this outside stuff and eat more stuff at home? An ingredients delivery service might help. So might “meal prep” habits that create a week’s worth of food in one big cooking session, making cooking a whole lot more efficient for busy Washingtonians. Whatever it takes, try to eat more at home and bring food to work. It will help you stay a lot healthier in body and mind.

Be proactive about caring for your mental health

Here’s what you need to do to keep your mental health in tiptop shape: You need to eat well, exercise, balance work and home life, meditate, and take vacations.

Caring for your mental health isn’t easy, and you’re not going to nail every last requirement. But you should do your best, and you should treat your mental health with the same emphasis that you give your physical health — which means getting a checkup once in a while.

DC therapists are among the best in the world, so make an appointment and take a closer look at your mental health, your thought patterns, and your behaviors. Therapy will make your mental health better and stronger even if you already feel that you have your moods and behaviors under control. In busy, stressful D.C., this is a vital investment.

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