You get to work in a great mood, fresh from a rare, smooth commute, and feel ready to go. But after chugging along and steadily making progress….1 p.m. hits, and your energy dips.
Before you know it, it’s been four hours since you got in, but you still haven’t eaten lunch or left your desk yet.
Everyone’s been here before. Here’s how to feel well at work so you can and maximize efficiency.
Harvard Medical School recommends eating small meals regularly to manage energy.
“Where energy is the issue, it’s better to eat small meals and snacks every few hours than three large meals a day. This approach can reduce your perception of fatigue because your brain, which has very few energy reserves of its own, needs a steady supply of nutrients. Some people begin feeling sluggish after just a few hours without food. But it doesn’t take much to feed your brain. A piece of fruit or a few nuts is adequate,” the article says.
The article also recommends smaller lunches, because according to research, people who eat large lunches have circadian rhythms indicating “a more pronounced afternoon slump.” All that digesting is stealing energy from your brain.
Keep up with your fitness regimen
It’s not always easy to step away from your work to exercise — even for a short daily walk — but you’re better off doing it.
Consider the alternative if you skip exercise: exhaustion all day and a worse mood.
A 2008 study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management of 201 employees at different companies with gyms found that “…workday exercise can improve white-collar workers’ mood and self-reported performance on days when they exercise at work over days when they do not.”
There were a host of benefits.
The study also found that “…compared to days when no exercise was undertaken during the working day, exercising improved mood and performance, leading to better concentration, work-based relationships and heightened resilience to stress…”
But you don’t have to have a company gym to work out during the day.
Check out The Washington Post’s compilation of 12 office exercises “recommended by experts,” including “raise the roof,” “desk pushup,” “The Hulk,” “knee lift” and “chair dips.”
If you can’t head to the gym during the day, and nights tend to fill up fast, consider working out before you get in.
Work often requires us to stare at computer monitor —sometimes two or three monitors —for hours at a time. That really does hurt our eyes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “extended use of computers and other digital devices is one of the most common causes of eyestrain. The American Optometric Association calls this computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain. People who look at screens two or more hours in a row every day are at greatest risk of this condition.”
Eyestrain doesn’t just mean your eyes will hurt. It also creates headaches, a sore neck, shoulders or back, and difficulty concentrating.
Mayo Clinic’s recommendations include: frequent blinking, decreasing glare and adjusting lighting, and to “try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.”
If you want an external solution, there’s even a brand of eyeglasses that are designed to reduce eyestrain.
Remember to take breaks outside
If you prefer to leave the building on breaks, head outside for a walk and get some fresh air, because being in nature is a health benefit.
An article in a 2010 issue of the Harvard Health Letter points out that you’ll get more vitamin D, “more exercise,” “you’ll be happier,” and “”you may heal faster.”
The article also says that adults have access to gyms and tend to favor them, “…but if you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking, biking, gardening, cleaning up the yard, and doing other things that put the body in motion.”
Prioritizing your health during business hours is sure to help you stay focused.