5 Energy Boosters to an Awesome Work Day


Do you ever wish that you could end your day with just as much – if not more – energy than you started it with? Are you interested in avoiding the 3pm crash? These nifty energy boosters will get you going.

That sounds a bit like a dream, doesn’t it? To be able to wrap up your work for the day and not be completely drained. Imagine having the energy to get to the gym, make an awesome dinner, and spend quality time with friends and family.

While it may sound too good to be true, particularly in this season of wishes, it’s not. It’s because we all have an Energy Bank – and throughout the day everything we do create either energy deposits or withdrawals. Your goal is to minimize the withdrawals and maximize the deposits – because the higher your average daily Energy Bank balance and the better job you do at minimizing withdrawals the better you are going to feel at the end of the day.

So, if your Energy Bank could use some tighter management, you’ll want to adopt these habits in the New Year.

Skip the High-Carb Lunch

The average American consumes over 156 pounds of sugar per year (that’s just under a half pound a day). And, because sugar is one of the prime culprits in that mid-afternoon crash (as well as the need for a mid-morning snack) – cutting back is a huge Energy Bank deposit.

About half of those 156 pounds comes naturally in our fruits and vegetables, but the other half comes in the form of added sugars – much of it comes from the obvious sources: Sugary snacks and treats and soda, but it also lives in places like condiments, sauces, salad dressings, and even bread.

Shockingly, ketchup has 16 calories of added sugar per tablespoon, flavored yogurts average 80-100 calories of added sugar per serving, a plain bagel has 40 calories of added sugar, and some brands of granola have a whopping 120 calories of added sugar per cup. Even if you are sticking with healthy frozen meals, many of those check in at 50+ calories of added sugar per serving.

The better job you can do at avoiding processed foods and avoiding those sugar-laden condiments, the better you are going to feel.

Take Regular Breaks

It’s easier said than done, but by scheduling in regular breaks, getting up and leaving your desk, and regularly recharging during the day you will be more productive during the time you are working. You already know that your best work happens when you are feeling refreshed, so why not schedule it into your day?

My recommendation: Schedule one 15-minute break mid-morning, leave your desk for lunch, and schedule a second 15-minute break around mid-afternoon.

During your break times I want you to get up from your desk and just be. This isn’t the time to get a snack from the vending machine (see sugar crashes above) or a coffee refill, but instead go for a walk around the block, go sit some place quiet, or even escape with a book for a few minutes. Whatever you choose has to be non-work related.

Capitalize on Your Productive Times

Everyone has times of the day when they are in their “genius zone,” and you probably know when yours is. For example, I know that anything before 10am isn’t good for anything but answering administrative emails, scheduling clients, and checking in on social media and my various online communities. I also know that my best writing happens either early afternoon or late in the evenings and that I need at least two consecutive hours if I’m going to tackle anything creative.

And I’m sure you know that same about your own work habits.

So schedule your day that way. While no one has complete control over their schedule, you can proactively block out productive periods, and aim for one meeting-free day per week.

Is it difficult? Yes. But you like to work awesome and get paid to deliver – so arrange your schedule so you can make that happen.

Practice Proper Breathing

I know what you are thinking? I breathe all day long every day – I have this breathing thing down.

Well, maybe.

Breathing habits are tightly tied in with overall health, so if you suffer from obesity, asthma, diabetes, chronic heart condition, food allergies, or diabetes, you almost certainly have breathing problems as well. And when you breathe improperly you start to suffer from a whole host of symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, and depression. You can think of it as low-grade altitude sickness – all the time.

An easy way to tell? If you are one of those people that frequently yawns, takes deep breaths or sighs frequently, or has to catch their breath during conversation, your breathing skills could use some work.

My recommendation: While you are on those regular breaks I talked about above, spend a couple of minutes focusing on your breathing. The shoulders should stay still and the movement should come from your lower ribs. You can put one hand each on the top and the bottom of your ribcage as a reminder.

Get High-Quality Sleep

More sleep isn’t an option for many people, but what if you could make the most of what you do get? So, instead of six tortured hours, you get six really deep, sound hours. Now, after those same six hours you wake up with considerably more energy.

Making just two small changes in your bedtime ritual will work wonders in terms of improving your sleep quality.

1) Get away from all electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. This means the TV, computer, tablet, smartphone, or any iDevice. The backlighting confuses the brain into thinking it’s still light out. Non-backlit reading devices are just fine, however.

2) Sleep in a dark room – the darker the better. If you have a digital alarm clock, put it where you can’t see it while lying in bed, pull the curtains, and do whatever you can to eliminate the light in your room. Bonus points if you go so far as to buying blackout curtains.

By reducing the light you are exposed to both before bed and while you are in bed, your body will better understand the “it’s time to sleep” signal, and release the various sleep hormones, dropping you into deeper – and higher-quality – sleep.

Have you tried any of energy boosting tricks? If so, how did they work for you?

 


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Jen Waak is a health and fitness writer and wellness coach who writes specifically for office athletes on her blog keyboardathletes.com. The author of the Keyboard Athletes Guide to Pain Relief & Prevention, she also recently released the free course How to Have the Body You Want (Without Giving Up Your Life). You can sign up for the free course here.

Discussion

  1. Megan Elizabeth Morris on the 30th December

    Extremely excellent tips, as always. Thank you for sharing these!

  2. Kirsten on the 30th December

    Awesome post, Jen! I remember when I was finally able to get my computer and associated blinking things out of my bedroom, I was amazed at how much better I slept. :)

  3. Will Kwan on the 30th December

    Good tips. I think exercise trumps everything by a longshot for energy boosting. High-intensity cardio is my favourite way to refresh the mind.

  4. Johny Symons on the 30th December

    Agreed with this point “Skip the High-Carb Lunch”.

  5. Marla Diener on the 31st December

    Great tips, particularly the breathing.

  6. Rachel on the 31st December

    Great article Jen. Something a friend of mine told me about the other day is a free app you can get for your computer that mimics natural daylight and changes the hue of your computer monitor at sunset http://stereopsis.com/flux/ – it’s a little weird to get used to at first but I’ve found it helps my eyes – but I take your point, shouldn’t really be on my laptop right before bed!

  7. Jen Waak on the 2nd January

    @Megan, glad you enjoyed.

    @Kirsten, yes, I always sleep better when the computer is out of the room (even if I cover the annoying blinky things)

    @Will, I agree – sometimes. For de-conditioned people, a high intensity workout will actually set them back rather than move them forward. But, if you are already in good shape it’s awesome!

    @Johny, spot on!

    @Marla, funny how people forget to do that. 😉

    @Rachel, I’ve heard about a similar app (not sure of the name) that people use to change the hue of their screen. I just keep my brightness as low as possible at virtually all times. I have found that if I try to go to sleep right after being on my laptop that it actually does keep me up (no matter how late it is).

  8. John Waite on the 4th January

    Great post, I always thought having a high carb lunch would great you through the day and give you more energy, so thank you for teaching me right from wrong, because I’ve been having Jacket Potatoes nearly every day! I was quite surprised about breathing being a factor in tiredness, it’s something you never really think about.

    Thanks for sharing these pointers.

  9. Bitu on the 22nd January

    Thanks for the useful tips!

  10. Alex on the 25th January

    Great article, and some useful tips in there! Might have to add them to my day and see how they work out!

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