Feeling exhausted by your job? Ready to drop by 4pm? We’ve all been there. Dr. John Briffa’s new book, A Great Day at the Office: Simple Strategies to Maximize Your Energy and Get More Done More Easily provides tips and tricks to get more energy at work
1. Swap your sandwich for soup or salad
Grain-based foods like bread, cereal, and potatoes have high glycemic indexes, meaning they disturb blood glucose levels to a high degree. To avoid the sugar crash that accompanies these foods, pass over the muffin or crisps and reach for yogurt or a cup of soup.
2. Keep your hunger in check
It’s much more difficult to reach for carrot sticks over a donut when you’re so ravenous you could chew your arm off. When we’re low on energy, our bodies crave something that’ll replenish the sugar in our bloodstream quickly, says Briffa. Also, studies show that our willpower gets weaker as we get hungrier. Briffa’s recommendation: eat when you are a 6-7 on the hunger scale (10 being the aforementioned extreme hunger.)
3. Snack on nuts
As we mentioned above, it’s tougher to exercise control over your food choices when you’re starving, so make sure you keep some healthy snacks stashed in your desk drawer. Nuts, though they can be high-calorie, pack a nutritional punch and have a low glycemic index (read: no crash.)
4. Keep your water bottle within reach
Research has discovered that dehydrated cells don’t take up glucose as easily, so your food may not be fueling you as much as it could. The result? Mental sluggishness, as Briffa calls it. Keep your water bottle in sight to remind you to hydrate. If you want to know if you’re drinking enough, a rule of thumb: your urine should be a pale yellow. TMI?
5. Value your sleep
Many people tend to think of sleep as wasted time, when in fact, it’s an investment of time. A good night’s sleep can make a world of difference the following day. Set a time where the TV, laptop and phone get shut down for example, 9pm – even the Twitter feed (we know, hard). An extra hour of sleep is more valuable than an hour of watching CBB.
6. Turn lunch break into stroll break
In addition to all the fantastic physical benefits of exercise, it’s been shown to improve brain function. A 20-minute afternoon walk can help stimulate thinking when you’re going stir-crazy in your cubicle.
7. Soak up the sun
Another benefit to an afternoon walk: you’ll also get some sun. Even when it’s gray outside, you’ll still catch more rays than through the window in your office. Getting some light improves a sense of vitality and mood, according to Briffa. If weather doesn’t permit (Londoners, here’s looking at you,) consider investing in a light therapy device. This small, portable object can deliver a helpful amount of concentrated light in about 20 minutes, says Briffa.
8. Plug in your headphones
Studies show that music in general has the ability to calm stress responses, and certain types of music have even further benefits. Classical music, for example, elicits a better working memory, and ‘designer’ music, which Briffa describes as ‘synthesizer-based music designed to have an uplifting effect,’ can improve the immune system by boosting antibodies.
9. Pump up the (binaural) beats
Binaural beats are frequencies of sound that can potentially ‘coax’ the brain into certain brainwave patterns, whether it’s a pattern that signifies focus or relaxation, according to Dr. Briffa. Binaural beat technology involves a different frequency playing in each ear, and the difference in the frequencies determines the brainwaves. Want to test it for yourself? Listening to music embedded with binaural beats or listen to an app that provides binaural beats.
10. Just breathe…the right way
Diaphragmatic breathing is better than chest breathing because it delivers more oxygen to your blood, improving energy and productivity, according to Briffa. To check if you tend to breathe from your chest or your diaphragm, place your left hand over the middle of your chest and your right hand over your navel. If your left hand moves more when you breathe, you’re breathing into your chest. To ‘retrain’ your breathing, focus on breathing slowly into your belly for a few minutes a day. Try and make the inhalation and exhalation stretch to four counts to help slow it down.
11. The Power of Positive Thinking
Eliciting positive emotions can increase coherence and resourcefulness, according to Dr. Briffa. Reflect on something that’s gone well or do a random act of kindness to bring these about. Do things that make you happy, and the rewards will affect your work.
12. Think of what you’re getting not what you’re losing
Most of these tips involve starting some sort of habit, and Dr. Briffa’s logical approach to keeping yourself on track spoke to us. Don’t think about what you’re losing by making a habit (i.e. watching less TV at night), think about what you’re gaining (an extra hour of sleep, thus a better workday tomorrow.).