The average information worker may not perform labour intensive tasks, but their work day can still be just as draining as that of any other industry. Although we at Essential Instructions aren’t in the health and wellness business, we know how important it is to remain sharp, focused, and ready to get the job done at anytime throughout the day. So, in this short article we’ll share a few tips (albeit mostly about dieting at work), on how to stay awake and energized throughout your work day.
First off is the importance of physical activity and dealing with the lack thereof that occurs with a desk job. When sitting at a desk all day, it’s important every now and then to get up, stretch, and move around. So, strive to find the most physically intensive effort involved in all tasks. For example, if you need to meet with someone in the building, take the long way around or use the stairs (as opposed to the elevator) and use this as an opportunity to get the body moving.
Use lunch time as another opportunity to get up and get moving around. Go for a short walk outside if possible, as fresh air can help rejuvenate you for the afternoon push. That said, it may not be the best time to do a workout or run a short marathon, because the recovery period afterwards could slow you down. Experiment and see how your body reacts after a lunchtime workout. If it causes you to crash afterwards, then replace the heavy workout with lighter physical activity such as going for a short walk.
If possible, try to get a hold of an exercise ball to use as a seat. They’re inexpensive to purchase, but many companies purchase them nowadays so you may be able to expense it. The ball will not only help build your core, but will force your muscles to work to keep you in a good posture. While you don’t need to use it for long periods of time, it’s definitely a tool that can help keep things moving and working while you sit at a desk.
In addition, you can use the ball to stretch tight muscles and to improve your posture. Lie on your back, arms spread and feel the stretch across the chest. Then, lie on the ball face down with your hands on the floor and feel the upper back stretch. Repeat this a couple of times a day.
On the diet side, remember to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will help the body remain more alert, especially since the brain is composed mostly of water which is fuelled through good hydration. The trick here though, is to continuously drink water before your body gets tired. If you start drinking water once the afternoon crash sets in, then it’s too late. So be proactive and remember that frequent hydration starting in the morning will help pay off with increased energy later on in the day.
Similarly, caffeinated tea is another fluid that can be used to stay alert. One cup in the morning will see you through to lunch, and another in mid‑afternoon will get you through to the end of the workday. Just like with water, try to drink tea before your get tired. However, be sure to drink the tea in moderation, and supplement it with plenty of water, as some teas are known to dehydrate the body.
Finally, eliminate empty carbs and calories and stick to natural foods like fruits and vegetables. Resist those donuts that your co‑worker has generously brought in as they will do nothing but hinder you. The instant satisfaction and sugar high they provide will soon be followed by a sugar crash and sluggishness for many hours to come.
Instead, prepare your deserts with unrefined sugar products such fruits, and plan to graze on them throughout the day. While they are not as instantly satisfying as a donut nor will they keep you full for a long period of time, remember that they will also not produce the sugar crash and sluggishness that donuts and other junk foods would.
Similarly, try to reduce the carbs consumed at lunch time, and don’t consume a heavy lunch. The work place is not the time for a five‑course meal, especially when your coworkers want to eat out. In fact, as an old athletic coach once said before the big event, you’re eating to perform, not for enjoyment. This advice could not be more applicable in the workplace, because you are there to perform a task and need all of the nutritional help you can get to achieve it.
So there you have it. A little bit nutritional planning and the introduction of some physical activity during the work day can go a long way to keeping you awake and alert in the work place.