May 28, 2020
Why looking after your health will boost your work performance
With many of us now nearly two months into working from home, it’s likely you’ve started to adjust to a new way of working and built a new everyday routine for yourself. As many seasoned home-workers will attest to, there are lots of elements that piece together to make working from home a success; for example, having the right tools and equipment at home, or creating a productive desk space. However, focusing on your health is arguably one of the most important of all.
When restricted to the confines of your house and with your usual activities such as meeting up with friends or going to the gym now taken away from you, it can be all-too-easy to fall into the trap of creating unhealthy exercise patterns due to boredom or frustration.
While it’s a great opportunity to spend your free time curled up on the sofa with Netflix for company, it’s important to ensure you’re still balancing your relaxation time with some physical activity. This doesn’t have to be anything strenuous – simply going for a walk is enough to have a positive effect. Making sure that you keep your body moving will not only help you feel more energized physically, but it will keep your motivation and productivity levels soaring, too.
Physical exercise increases your concentration
Alongside the obvious benefits such as staying fit and active, one of the most motivating reasons to engage in regular physical activity is the improved sense of well-being it can help to provide. When you exercise, your mind (as well as your body) will reap the rewards; and during a time where our normal routines have shifted due to the coronavirus outbreak, maintaining your positivity and well-being will significantly help you to keep going and to fight through any struggles along the way.
Studies have shown that physical exercise can help to treat depression, anxiety and stress. A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. It has also been found that the same endorphins released in the brain that make you feel better also help you to concentrate when focusing on a particular task.
Keeping up with exercise at home doesn’t have to feel daunting or even boring. Start by finding the exercise you enjoy doing, then find a particular time in your day that works best for you. Perhaps it’s an evening walk after work to clear your head, or a morning workout in the garden before work to kick-start your day. By working this exercise into your everyday routine, you’ll find it easier to stick to – and maintaining this constant activity will help keep you focused and energized when it comes to tackling your work projects.
Eating a balanced diet improves your brain power
We know the benefits that physical activity can bring to our minds, but the food we eat plays just as big of a role in the health of our brains as our bodies. Researchers from the York University in Canada report that especially the consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with better cognitive functioning. Therefore, maintaining a healthy balance in your diet will drastically help when it comes to your performance at work.
Take caffeine and sugar, for example. Many of us struggle to get going in the mornings without that welcoming jolt of energy from our morning coffee. Or perhaps an hour after lunch, the cookie jar starts to look more appealing, as a little sugar boost keeps you energized during the typical afternoon slump. Everything in moderation is key, and too much caffeine or sugar can lead you to have an energy crash, significantly dropping your productivity and motivation levels as the day goes on.
With working from home allowing us to establish a stronger work-life balance, use your extra time to prepare your lunches. Not only will this help you save money from trips to the shop on your lunch break, but it also gives you time to prepare healthier options. These will give you the longer-lasting energy your brain power needs to keep you motived and energized. As the summer heat approaches, it’s also important to drink plenty of water to keep your mind focused and prevent dehydration. You can even set yourself timers to refill your glass throughout the day, as it is often something many people forget to keep on top of.
Your mental health is equally important
For all the good that looking after your physical health can do, it is equally vital that your mental health is being cared for – especially when feeling the struggles that the coronavirus outbreak has faced many of us with.
During a time where you may be feeling an added weight on your mind from a sudden change in lifestyle, it’s more important than ever to check that you acknowledge how you’re feeling and do what you can to be easy on your mind. For those new to working from home, in particular, you may be feeling a pressure to prove your productivity to your team. This can result in working longer hours than normal, or not feeling like you can draw that distinction between the end of your working day and your personal time. Take time to establish a clear structure in your day; inform your colleagues of the hours you intend to work each day and be sure to schedule in regular breaks. Overworking can very quickly lead to stress, which can result in burnout if left untreated.
For those who are desk-bound during their daily working hours, limiting your screen time is also a great way to help give your mind the rest it needs. While our lives revolve around our screens, you may find yourself switching off your work laptop for the day, only to jump straight to your mobile phone for a few hours, before switching to the TV. Be sure to take note of the hours you spend looking at a screen, as this can cause fatigue and headaches if left unmonitored.
Looking after our health encompasses all elements of our bodies, including our minds – all combined together, these play a significant role in how we feel and how well our brains can perform when working. Whether it’s the exercise you do, the food you eat or the breaks you give yourself during the day, finding a balance that works for you is the key to ensuring you can keep working at the top of your game.
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