28 Jan How to Stay Energized Throughout Your Work Day! (AKA: Should I stay or Should I go?)
When it comes to making a decision about whether or not to continue working, just to get the last item on your check list accomplished before lunch or before COB or before the weekend or….getting up and stretching, going to the gym or taking a walk or just plain relaxing for a few minutes: WORK NORMALLY WINS!
Now I am not here to advocate for shirking responsibility. Quite the contrary! I am advocating for taking responsibility for your overall well-being, within which a work/life balance is a critical component.
Of course you all have deadlines and pressures to complete tasks. Others, like your colleagues and bosses are depending on you to contribute and pull your share of the weight. But, while being an adult in the 21st century is fraught with expectation and anxiety, if you don’t learn to strike some balance between work and the rest of your world, you are asking for trouble.
Now most articles regarding striking this balance will enumerate the larger, more general themes of wellness such as: exercise, diet and nutrition, rest & relaxation and stress reduction. And while it is great info and appropriate to remind you to get enough sleep and exercise three times a week and reduce your carbs and refined flour and sugar, I want to focus on some simple and practical concepts that are easily applicable during your workday from the beginning of your work day until you walk into your door at home.
1. If public transportation is an option TAKE IT! Even more so, if possible get off a stop before your final destination and walk the rest of the way. Try this once week or so. If you have to drive, avoid stress and increase your cardio by parking at the back of the lot and walking a bit! And don’t worry if you forgot something in your car! A slightly loose memory is a great excuse for exercise!
2. Athletes stretch and warm up before they engage in competition. You are an office athlete (or lab or warehouse or whatever!). Taking two minutes before you “engage” in your work to make sure that your set up is comfortable and that you are feeling physically prepared to work can make a big difference in your comfort level. Try some deep breathing exercises and isometric stretches while you are waiting for your computer awake for its sleep!
3. OK. So you rushed out the door, but you still parked at the back of the lot (good for you!) and stretched before you started hitting those keys (again, good!). But you did not mange to get any fuel into the engine! Coffee or tea is a necessity for many of us and I am not going to attempt to dissuade you from sipping your morning Joe. It is as much ritual as “pick me up”. However, what comes next is important. Often, once I get going without having had anything to eat, I will get lost in my work and then tell myself: “You have waited this long, you can wait til lunch”. Experts tell us that this approach can often lead to poor food choices down the line. Get some fruit or whole grain in your system at the outset of your day and your choices for lunch will tend to be smarter and more beneficial to producing energy as opposed to being enervating.
4. Now you have made it to lunch and done all of the little things we have talked about above (great for you!). Please! Please! Please!-like James Brown said-avoid eating your lunch at you work station. In addition, make a major effort to allocate your break time by eating early in the cycle to give you enough time to digest your food before you return to work. Bring a fun magazine and/or your IPOD to lunch. Give yourself a few minutes to take a walk and listen to your favorite music mix before returning to work. A little walk can go a long way to halting the “post lunch malaise”.
5. Now you are back to work after lunch and powering through the rest of your day, with an eye toward all the other things that are on your agenda as work winds down and you prepare for after work. This can be stressful in and of itself! Having too many set plans for after work can lead to the stress of attempting to rush to accomplish everything to meet your self-imposed deadline(s). I have learned, where possible, to avoid firm plans with rigid times on days where I know that my work demands are heaviest. Give yourself a window of time for that after work workout or get together with friends that does not add to your stress, or try to avoid making plans at all on those heavy days.
6. When I was little, I would watch my dad pull up to the front of the house and it always took him 5-10 minutes to come into the house! My Mom would tell us that Dad was still working and that we should leave him alone until he got into the house. Years later, my Dad told me that he was listening to some classical music with his eyes closed before he came into the house to deal with his four boys! I find myself sitting in my driveway on many an evening listening to the Who or the Kinks, Lyle Lovett or the Clash before I enter my domain! Try it! You’ll like it.
Please feel free to add any of your particular techniques or rituals! Everyone would appreciate the advice!
Until the next time!
Andrew Blumenfeld, M.A., PBE Co-Founder
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