I wrote this post for my company’s blog back in July. As it applies to so many of us, I thought it would be helpful to share here as well. After all, we do spend the majority of our lives at work. Why not feel good and enjoy it while we’re at it?
Have you ever found yourself reaching for that extra cup of coffee to help you make a deadline or mentally kicking yourself for not getting enough sleep the night before? Although sleep deprivation is commonly known to negatively impact workplace productivity, many people don’t think about the affect of diet and exercise. Recent studies have shown that inadequate nourishment can cut productivity by up to 20%. What we put into our bodies impacts mental clarity, energy and stamina. If you think about it, what would an athlete eat to stay at the top of his game? Most likely he is not eating fast food or processed food. Getting the right amount of nutrients and protein, limiting saturated fats and drinking enough water can go a long ways towards improving productivity and overall wellness.
Iron deficiencies are associated with sluggishness and lack of coordination, while saturated fats have been found to hinder brain function. Foods with the highest iron content are actually not meat products, but vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and collard and mustard greens. A 1% decrease in hydration levels can lead to a 20% decrease in productivity. Protein from healthy sources such as low-fat dairy, fish, lean meat and beans maintains a feeling of fullness for longer following a meal and can make you more alert and attentive.
Also how often you eat can impact productivity levels. Eating at regular intervals maintains appropriate blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar, which results from going too long without eating, shortens attention span and slows the speed at which you process information. Getting a quick, sugary fix from processed foods or sugary drinks is counterproductive and will cause your blood sugar levels to dramatically spike and plummet soon thereafter, leaving you back at square one and probably craving something that you know isn’t good for you.
So what can you do each day to improve your productivity levels? Start small and focus on improving one item in your daily routine, such as going to bed a little earlier a few days a week or drinking a large glass of water each morning when you wake up. Set reminders in your calendar to get up and move during the workday to help increase blood flow. Take the long route to the bathroom or walk to a colleague’s desk instead of calling them to chat. Keep healthy snacks with you to stave off cravings for unhealthy, sugary items. Some examples include apples with peanut butter, nuts, yogurt, or raw vegetables and hummus. Smaller, less drastic changes here and there will be easier to stick to and build into your regular routine. Even these small changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long ways to increasing workplace productivity and overall health. What healthy habits can you start today to improve your daily life at work?
Peace, love and lots of veggies