A healthy diet and exercise have been linked to physical health for as long as we can remember — but did you know that the same can be said for our mental health as well? A healthy body and healthy mind go hand in hand. A nutritious diet not only helps you manage your weight, improves your heart health, and lowers your cholesterol, but it’s also linked to improved concentration, alertness, problem-solving skills, and even an increase in productivity. But where exactly does the link between these things lie?
Productivity and nutrition in the workplace
At one point or another, our productivity levels at our jobs take a hit. Most people attribute this to simply being tired or having a mild case of burnout, but what if we looked to find the root of the problem? Foods high in saturated fat and carbohydrates — such as those served in fast food restaurants — contribute to health issues like obesity and that in turn causes us to have a more sedentary lifestyle.
Think of it as the snowball effect. When we fail to feed our bodies healthy and nutritious foods, it leads to weight gain. The weight gain then requires more energy from us to go about our daily routines and we tire more easily. When we’re tired we’re more likely to sit and rest, and the end result is a less than active lifestyle. The lack of energy also bleeds over into our work lives and causes us to be less productive there as well.
You can start your productivity revolution by integrating a variety of hacks into your daily work routines. If you often have a lot of tasks on your to-do list, use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize and delegate your catalog. You can then apply the Pomodoro technique to the ones that remain on your own list. After you’ve been practicing these techniques, you’ll notice that you’re naturally treating the root of the problem, which is helping to create a lasting change. Start meal prepping and planning for the week ahead. There are plenty of simple but delicious one-pot meals that even a novice cook can tackle on their own to create dishes you can take to work for a healthy lunch in the office. You’ll be more productive and your manager will be thrilled!
Staying focused at work
Staying focused and productive at work is something we all struggle with at one point or another, but there are a few ways we can help ourselves stay on track. It’s easy to become distracted if you have coworkers coming to chat at your desk or if you’re constantly being called from one meeting or another, but that’s why you have to be proactive about your focus and productivity.
There are several ways to help you stay on task at work. Writing out your daily schedule with to-do lists each morning helps you visualize the day ahead. If a pen and paper isn’t your thing, there are plenty of digital calendars and organizational apps to help you stay on top of your schedule. Staying organized with your daily plans isn’t the only way to help you stay focused. You can also become more organized with your lunches and snacks each day as well.
In today’s world, the healthiest foods aren’t always the most convenient. When you’re crunched for time, it’s much easier to grab a burger from a drive-thru than to put together a protein-packed salad. The good news is that this is an easy problem to solve. Just as it helps with productivity, some basic meal prepping over the weekend is an excellent way to set yourself up to stay on track with your diet throughout the week. Lunches filled with fresh vegetables, lean meats and proteins, and whole grains are great “brain fuel” that will help you to focus and stay on task — cycling back to your productivity.
Reducing stress after work
In today’s world, we’re constantly connected. Either with our mobile phones, tablets, or laptops we always have access to our emails, text messages, and phones. This makes it much harder for us to disconnect at the end of the day. That said, plenty of studies have shown that it’s crucial we learn to leave work “at work” for the sake of our mental and physical health. When employers are on board, this makes life even easier.
If you’re an employer, keep in mind that burnout is much more common these days due to longer work hours. If you want the most out of your employees, be sure to give them reasonable time off from work. This doesn’t mean only vacation and sick days either. This means after work hours and on weekends. When employees are overworked, they get burned out much easier which in turn leads to poor focus and productivity at work.
Of course, not all of this lies in the hands of the employer. We have to be responsible for our own lifestyles after hours. Stress can not only have a negative impact on our mental health, it can be extremely detrimental to our immune system as well. To help keep stress at bay, first and foremost, keep your diet at top of mind. Snack on healthy foods and take time with your family or friends to create delicious and nutritious dinners. Not only is this a great way to let off steam, but it’s a perfect way to keep your diet in check.
With the many ways to reduce stress after work, always keep in mind the importance of the root of the issue of any problems with our bodies and mind – our nutrition. Once we learn to keep that in check, our stress levels will not only decrease but our happiness levels are sure to increase.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.
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