What do healthy habits have to do with work? More than you might imagine, actually. Here are the healthy habits that you have to incorporate into your day to be more successful at work — and life.
Tempted to stay up late finishing a project, burning the candle at both ends? Believe it or not, it might be a better idea to get a good night’s sleep. Study after study shows that adequate sleep helps you think better and more creatively. You’ll be sharper and will actually get more done in less time if you’ve made sure to get the sleep you need. And don’t forget the value of a well-timed nap! Many companies these days are even encouraging napping through napping pods or other schedules that allow a short, restorative nap.
Skipping breakfast can set you up for a less productive work day without a doubt. Again, studies show that people who eat breakfast have more physical energy and mental clarity. But breakfast is not the only meal that matters. In terms of food, make sure that you are enjoying well-balanced meals that have plenty of protein. Watch your lunch — a huge carb-heavy or sugar-infused noontime meal can set you up for a crash when you return to your desk. The goal is to make sure you have a steady stream of nutrients.
Letting yourself become dehydrated can make you feel sluggish and foggy. It can also spur you to overeat because thirst can often disguise itself as hunger causing you to consume extra — and often empty — calories. Caffeine can give you a wake-up jolt in the morning but avoid excess caffeine throughout the day. It can make you jittery, lead to a “crash,” and even inhibit your nighttime sleep which can have negative repercussions the next day. Instead make sure that you stay hydrated with water throughout the day. If plain water is too boring, consider jazzing it up with a splash of fruit juice, or lemon wedges, or ask for it bubbly.
Getting enough exercise is important for many reasons. The first, of course, is your health — cardio activities are proven to help increase your heart health and reduce the incidence of cancer, diabetes and much more. But the benefits go beyond long term health. Exercise contributes to mental clarity which allows you to approach your work with a sharper focus. It also allows for more restful sleep which sets you up for a more successful morning the following day. It can provide the break you need to think about a problem or project differently. And, if you plan your exercise to be with others at your work, you can combine health and work in a very productive way. Consider meeting clients for a hike or bike ride, rather than happy hour. See if your team can incorporate walking meetings rather than sitting meetings. There is often debate about the best time to exercise — morning, noon or night. Early birds swear by morning workouts because it gets you out of bed and ensures that a busy day won’t interfere with your plans to have a workout session. But planning a workout for early evening can help ensure that you leave the office at a reasonable hour. And a noontime exercise session can ensure that you take a much-needed break midday and can set you up to return fresher and with more energy. And don’t neglect stretching when you are considering your exercise priorities. Sitting hunched over at a desk, sitting for long periods of time while working or driving, or carrying heavy boxes all can take a physical toll. Stretching those muscles will let you feel — and perform — better.
Many people don’t realize that being social is a key component of overall healthy habits. But taking time to be with family and friends can help you renew and restore. Working all the time is bound to lead to burnout. Having something on your calendar to look forward to, whether it’s a yoga class with friends, an evening out with your spouse, or an ice cream date with your kiddos can help you focus on your work to finish it in time for your planned event which ultimately causes you to be more productive. But the productivity dividends come in a larger form than just time management — allowing time for socialization and pleasant activities allow you to return to your job with renewed attention and focus.
The great news about focusing on healthy habits is that they are not a sacrifice in the productivity equation. Even though it may feel like taking time for sleep, exercise, socialization, proper nutrition and more might make you less productive, the truth is that these all offer many benefits in the form of increased energy and mental acuity which actually means that healthy habits make you more productive — a true win/win.
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