Published by Bupa’s Health Information Team, November 2011.
Keeping up your energy levels both in and out of work will help you achieve more each day. We all find that our energy levels rise and dip throughout the day, depending on the tasks we’re doing, what time it is and what we have eaten or drunk. By recognising patterns in your own energy levels, you can tackle the dips more effectively, get more done and go home feeling that you have handled your day’s challenges well.
Start the day right by getting a good night’s sleep. Don’t skip breakfast but instead eat some carbohydrates that release their energy slowly, such as porridge oats or wholemeal toast, to keep you going until lunchtime. Although sugary breakfast cereals or a croissant may be tempting, they release their energy quickly so by mid-morning your energy level could have already dropped.
You can only concentrate for a certain amount of time, which varies with the task you are doing. Recognise when your concentration is slipping and take a short break away from your desk. Key signals that it’s time for a break include yawning, fidgeting and hunger. Go for a short walk, have a snack or fill up your water bottle.
Eat a small meal or a healthy snack every three hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Good snacks to choose include fresh fruit and vegetables or a small pot of low-fat yoghurt.
Make sure you take a lunch break even if you’re really busy. You will return from your break refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon’s challenges. Get up and away from your work area, even if it’s just for a quick walk around the block. You could arrange to meet a friend and walk to a nearby park. You will be topping up your vitamin D levels and getting some exercise.
Aim to do some physical activity every day – your lunch break may provide a great time to do this. The recommended healthy level of physical activity is 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate exercise over a week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. You can do this by carrying out 30 minutes on at least five days each week. Taking 30 minutes of your lunch break each day to go for a brisk walk can help towards your 150 minutes. Alternatively, you can do 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week.
The benefits of regular exercise include giving you more energy, helping you to maintain a healthy weight and regulating sleeping patterns.
During the day, try to drink less caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea and some soft drinks. Although caffeine can give you a brief energy boost when you get that mid-afternoon lull, the effect soon wears off, leaving you feeling even more tired than before. Try to drink more water instead. This will help to keep you hydrated and prevents tiredness, headaches and irritability.
Aim to drink less alcohol. As much as a glass of wine is enjoyable with your dinner, drinking too much alcohol has a depressive effect, making you feel tired but preventing you from sleeping well. Try to have at least two alcohol-free days a week and stick to the recommended daily drinking guidelines of three to four units for men and two to three for women.
Make sure you have a good bedtime routine. You could have a relaxing bath or a warm, milky drink to help you relax. Dim lights and stop using screens including mobile phones, computer games and laptops to help you wind down in the last hour before you plan to go to sleep. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day and aim for eight hours of sleep a night.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the about our health information page.
Publication date: November 2011