It's 6:30 a.m. You wake up, groggily rub your eyes, and immediately reach for your phone. As you struggle to keep both eyes open while scrolling through emails and Facebook, you're reminded about how exhausted you feel. How am I going to make it through work today, you think. You get in your car and sleepily drive off to work only to get to your desk and instantly start falling asleep.
We've all been there many times, but maybe you feel like this has turned into a vicious cycle. How will you be able to break this trend so you can be productive at work? The great news is this cycle can be broken, but it takes some effort.
It starts with the night before work. We've all heard before that 8-10 hours of sleep is necessary to feel well rested. This is generally true for most people for many reasons. To begin, sleep is when your body does most of it's healing. As you sleep, your body is hard at work preventing illness and recovering any damage that was done throughout the day.
Think of it this way: You're in a meeting and your boss informs you that you have a huge project due by the end of the week. Your stress level rises and you feel your body tense up. Simply put, if you don't get those 8-10 hours of sleep, your body doesn't have enough time to recover from that stress so you can be back on your feet the next day, thus you feel extra tired.
When it is time to wake up, consider staying off of your phone for the first hour you're awake. Why? One reason is because that 6:30 a.m. wake up will turn into getting out of bed at 6:45, and there goes the 15 minutes you had to make that breakfast that was going to get your brain moving for work. What could you do with those extra 15-20 minutes you had to leave behind because you were scrolling through Instagram? Sip your coffee leisurely, dry your hair, make your bed, organize your house, and maybe even have time to spend time with your kids before school.
Additionally, if your habit is scrolling through social media apps in the morning, you could be starting your day by comparing your life to someone else's. Usually, scrolling through social media, mindlessly playing the comparison game, is not a good start to the formula for a happy, productive work day.
Again, we've heard it plenty of times – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's true! Breakfast is extremely important for brain function, but the choice that is even more imperative is what kind of food you're eating in the morning.
Your breakfast should consist of a good portion of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. For example, your protein could be two scrambled eggs, your carbohydrates may be a side of vegetables, and your fat could be half of an avocado. Smoothies and sugary cereals for breakfast can actually cause a major sugar crash halfway through the morning. Fats, proteins, and vegetables together promote brain function and focus throughout your work day.
During the day, be sure you're not mindlessly snacking on sugary foods. If you eat the kind of breakfast mentioned above, you should be able to get by until lunch. If not, keep something like a bag of nuts at your desk. They are a great source of fat and protein to keep your brain going.
Breaks are absolutely necessary during the workday, especially if your job requires that you sit at a desk all day. Every hour or two, stand up. Walk around, even if it's for a minute or two to grab some water. If you can afford to take a 20 or 30 minute break, take a walk outside. Get some movement in because it will help clear your mind and get you back on track.
Once the workday is over, get yourself home and dressed to take on your movement for the day. If the word exercise intimidates you, know that getting outside and walking around the block for 20 minutes counts. Ideally, you will want to get an hour workout in that includes some cardio and body weight exercises, but the days you are just not feeling it, take a walk instead. Exercise is a wonderful way to clear your head and it acts as a natural mood-lifter. Plus, working out each day is proven to help you sleep better at night so you can get those eight hours that you need.
Do all these things and you're on the path to a better-focused, more productive workday. When you feel good, you do better work. Know that you have to work hard to keep a routine like this and you might not feel better overnight. However, when you start living a healthier lifestyle, get ready to watch yourself succeed.
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