A healthy start
Start the day the right way by eating a healthy breakfast. Don’t be tempted to skip it. Breakfast will set you up for the day and keep you on an even keel throughout the morning. A few great breakfast choices include starchy and fibre-rich carbohydrates such as wholegrain cereal, porridge oats and wholemeal toast. These are all good sources of energy.
Don’t get stuck in a rut though. It’s important to have a good balance and eat a variety of foods, so you get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need. Think about adding fruit, protein such as beans, and low-fat dairy products into your breakfast mix too.
Mid-morning mini breaks
Take quick breaks to prevent signs of discomfort setting in. Looking at a computer screen for lengthy periods can cause pain and discomfort such as back pain, tired eyes and headaches. All of these are likely to affect your ability to concentrate and lower your energy.
You can only concentrate for a certain amount of time before it starts to slip. If you notice that you’re yawning, feel hungry or restless, it’s a sign that your energy is waning and time to take a break.
Refresh your concentration and break up long amounts of time sitting down. Go for a short walk, get a drink, or walk over to speak to a colleague.
Do you often carry on working through lunch? If so, make a change to stop and give yourself a proper break. There are plenty of ways to spend it, leaving you feeling refreshed and energised for the afternoon ahead. Try one of the following and notice the difference it makes to your afternoon’s work.
Exercise for energy
Get some green space
Some research has suggested that green spaces, such as parks, make people feel happy. Green spaces can offer a break from your everyday demands. Ask yourself: would you rather eat your lunch at your desk or under the foliage of leafy green trees in the park?
Set up a lunch date to catch up with a friend or colleague. Combine a healthy lunch with a revitalising walk, as well as catching up on each other’s news.
If you’ve found your morning a bit stressful, take a bit of time out to do some relaxation exercises or mindful thinking.
And importantly, make sure you eat a healthy lunch. Whether you make your lunch yourself or buy it from the shop or canteen, think about what you’re choosing and keep healthy eating in mind. Your meal should include key nutrients and be well balanced.
After the buzz of a productive morning, for many people, the afternoon can be a challenge to refocus. Many of us are familiar with the phrase of ‘mid-afternoon slump or lull’. It’s to do with what’s called your ultradium rhythm; natural cycles of energy. Towards the end of a cycle, you start to feel tired and low in energy.
To help stay on focus, make sure you keeping well hydrated. Dehydration causes headaches, tiredness and can hinder your mental performance at work. Water is the best choice because it hydrates you without adding any calories or damaging your teeth. Keep a bottle or glass of water on your desk and drink a glass with every meal.
An alcohol-free accompaniment
There’s nothing like kicking off your shoes and relaxing on the sofa after a busy day. But watch out if that’s often accompanied by a glass of wine. Regularly drinking too much alcohol can interfere with the quality of your sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted the next day.
It’s not possible to be precise about how much is safe for individual men and women to drink. Current guidelines, however, recommend not regularly drinking more than three or four units a day for men, and two or three units a day for women. Although ‘Regularly’ means every day or most days of the week, it’s a good idea to have at least two alcohol-free days a week so you don’t go over the limits. So over a week, men shouldn’t have more than 21 units and women shouldn’t have more than 14 units.
This doesn’t mean you can save up all the ‘allowance’ for a weekend binge. A drinking binge is generally defined as drinking double the daily recommended units in one session.
Drinking below the limits is even better. And, if you want to cut down, lower alcohol drinks or alcohol-free versions of your favourite tipple are a good place to start.
A good bedtime routine is the key to sleeping well. Some simple sleep hygiene measures can help. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, the right temperature and your mattress supports your body properly. Before bed, do something you find relaxing, such as reading or listening to some soothing music. It’s easy to stay switched on all the time, but try and turn off your phone and other devices to help you wind down. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
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Reviewed by Natalie Heaton, Bupa Health Information Team, March 2014.
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