Work and a healthy lifestyle: mutually exclusive or essential? – We are constantly reminded about the importance of exercise and healthy eating. Yet after a long and stressful day at work, many of us simply want to curl up on the sofa with a ready meal. Well, did you know that those who eat healthily are 25% more likely to perform well at work? So it may be worth it after all to improve your health and well-being.
Here are 6 easy tips to implement a healthy routine and boost your work productivity:
1. Always eat breakfast (preferably a healthy one!)
Whilst many of us skip breakfast to get to work earlier, making time for a healthy meal is the best way to boost your energy levels and keep you working efficiently until lunchtime. After a period of fasting while you sleep, your body is in starvation mode and needs to be refueled by nutrients to get you going. Without this energy you may lack motivation and struggle to focus in the morning, or even overeat later in the day as a result. The best way to introduce breakfast to your morning routine is by making quick and healthy meals such as porridge or eggs, providing you with optimum energy levels throughout the morning. Start your day as you mean to go on: always consume a hearty breakfast.
2. Bring in your own freshly prepared lunch
Try to prepare your lunch the night before to give you plenty of time to cook a healthy meal full of protein and vegetables. You could also include food rich in omega-3s like salmon, proven to boost your concentration whilst keeping you satisfied. To further sustain energy and productivity throughout the day, start bringing in fruit to snack on and benefit from the instant, but long-term, energy lift. This will help you avoid the temptation to buy sugary snacks which, although initially providing a short-term energy rush, ultimately lead to a ‘slump’: a period of poor productivity and low motivation. However, don’t be afraid to enjoy that donut or slice of cake every now and then. Sweet treats are a pleasure of life, and will do no harm when consumed in moderation.
3. Don’t feel bad about drinking coffee if you feel tired
Whilst drinking multiple cups of coffee a day isn’t recommended due to the excessive caffeine intake, coffee in moderation can have many health benefits. Contrary to what you may believe, there are no artificial ingredients in pure coffee. In fact, it contains antioxidants and minerals which provide us with essential nutrients. Yet the biggest benefit for coffee drinkers is of course its ability to help you stay alert and awake, improving your overall productivity. It has also been proven to enhance physical performance, enabling you to boost your exercise regime even after a tiring day at work. However, beware of ADDITIVES. Sugar and syrups add empty calories and reduce the health benefits of what is otherwise a perfectly adequate form of liquid energy.
4. Take breaks throughout the day to maintain maximum productivity levels
Did you know that our minds can fully focus on a task for 90-120 minutes? After this period we need to take a 20-30 minute break to regain optimum concentration levels. So, although you may think that working endlessly will impress your boss, this is actually counter-productive as you will struggle to continuously produce quality work. Instead, why not get up from your desk every so often and walk around outside for a few minutes, allowing yourself to get some fresh air and recuperate? Physically taking yourself away from the situation will enable you to view a task from a new perspective and provide you with inspiration upon your return.
5. Exercise several times a week
No matter how busy you may be at work, you can always find time to exercise, whether it be before work, at lunchtime, or on your way home. In fact, many companies have started to introduce on-site lunchtime fitness classes, recognizing the benefits of frequent exercise and encouraging their employees to participate. Have a look at what your company has to offer, or even get a group together and begin your own class. Exercise is always more enjoyable in groups, and will soon start to become part of your daily routine rather than an obligation. Yet if you can’t commit to an hour, why not walk to work instead of catching the metro? Or, following the recent exercise trend, try doing short, but extremely beneficial, high intensity workouts. Recent studies have shown that you can see results from exercising for just 7 minutes a day. If Barack Obama managed to workout daily with one of the most demanding jobs on the planet, so can you.
And, most importantly…
6. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep really is essential if you want to perform to your best ability. Statistics reveal that those who sleep for 7-8 hours each night are more likely to be productive, focused and positive than those getting less than a mere 6 hours. This is because your body and mind need to rejuvenate after a long day at work whilst your mood-controlling hormones regulate. After work, make sure you take the time to rest and reward yourself with leisure activities. Turn off your emails and spend time with friends and family, allowing yourself to wind down before bed. Try to avoid using technology just before you sleep and read a book instead, completely switching off from the stresses of the day. This will help you nod off quickly and get the proper rest you deserve.
Who said it was hard to follow a healthy lifestyle? By gradually implementing these tips, you will begin to reap the benefits and ultimately THRIVE IN THE WORKPLACE. Your body (and your boss!) will appreciate your efforts.