ENERGISING YOUR DAY
How often have you headed home from a normal work day feeling absolutely exhausted? The actual work you do affects this of course but it also matters how well you take care of yourself throughout the day. Here are some practical suggestions for helping you to look after you and feel better at the end of the day.
Start your day with breakfast. Breakfast is no more or less important than any other meal but it is important. Whether it’s at home or coming in a bit earlier to eat in the staff room. Breakfast is really important to get your appetite going (appetite is a good thing no matter what that diet tells you). Eating a planned breakfast also means you’re less likely to hit a mid-morning slump and head to the local café for something that you really don’t feel like eating but think will give you a pick-me-up.
Breakfast can be as simple as a couple of bits of toast. Add some form of protein for example hummus, peanut butter or other nut butter spread. An oat based muesli is a great option. Oats are really good for heart health and they keep you sustained for longer. Eat something that will satisfy and help you feel full. Adding milk or yoghurt to your breakfast boosts the protein to keep you going for the next couple of hours and boosts calcium intake. Add some fruit and your favourite beverage for a great start to your day.
If you’re not usually a breakfast person start with whatever you feel like eating just to get you into the routine. As breakfast becomes the norm you will find your preferences start to change.
Lunch is again another opportunity to fuel your body and provide it with enough energy and nutrition to get you through the afternoon. When preparing or buying your lunch try to aim for a third carbohydrate, a third fruit/vegetables and a third protein. Some examples of this could be leftovers from last night’s dinner (rice, vegetables, meat/beans/fish) or a sandwich (bread, salad, sliced chicken/egg/hummus). Add in some fruit. Eat until you feel satisfied and comfortably full. By eating a satisfying meal you are less likely to snack on less nutritious foods throughout the day.
It is normal to get hungry between meals. We usually need to eat every 2-4 hours. This is individual, of course, but it’s not something to feel guilty about. Instead plan for these just like you would a meal. Include a protein choice such as nuts, roasted chickpeas, hummus, egg, cheese or yoghurt. Include carbohydrates such as wholegrain crackers, piece of cake/biscuit or small sandwich. Add some fruit, as varied as you like.
By including snacks into your day you will avoid getting home, being starving hungry and feeling like you could and would eat anything in sight. The aim is to arrive home with still enough time and energy to prepare dinner before you feel like you need to eat again. This way you are more likely to avoid overeating in the evening.
At the end of each hour take a moment to stretch or walk a circuit around the office or go and get a drink of water. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you step away from your desk and move.
Whether you choose to eat something or not mid-morning and afternoon, you still need to take a break. Move away from your desk and take ten minutes to refocus. This doesn’t mean checking your emails, this is allowing your eyes or your body to change position and rest. By taking this time out you will feel more refreshed and better able to carry on with your work and avoid going home exhausted at the end of the day.
Fluids are important too. This doesn’t mean you have to drink two litres of water every day. It does mean that if you are thirsty, grab a drink. Water is best. Tea and coffee count towards your total fluid intake as well but try to limit coffee because of the caffeine. Energy drinks give you the opposite of energy so my recommendation is to avoid them altogether. Energy drinks give you a brief artificial lift but will leave you feeling worse than before once the effect has worn off. There is no benefit to these drinks. Instead have a snack and some water. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Some days you will be thirstier than others. Listen to your body and respond accordingly.
Exercise is great for our health but it also makes us feel better as well. Taking some time during the lunch hour to walk around the block – it’s a great way to clear your head, breathe in some fresh air and leave you feeling energized. Walk briskly enough to be breathing slightly more than normal. It doesn’t have to make you sweat and you don’t need to get changed to do it. Just head outdoors whenever you’re able.
If you can find something you enjoy doing then you are more likely to keep doing it, because you want to rather then you ‘have’ to. It may take some time to know whether you enjoy something or not and enjoyment generally increases as your fitness and ability increases. There are many varied classes at Habit. You never know what you will enjoy until you try it. Talk to your Habit personal trainer about some options.
The End of the Day
If you leave work most days feeling tired, with tight muscles and/or headachy then this is your body telling you something needs to change. If the headaches persist Habit have specialist physios who can help.
What steps can you take to help feel better today?
Andrea Palmer is the Dietitian for Habit Wellington