Many of us live to work, rather than work to live. According to the Department of Labor, the average American between the ages of 25-54 with children spends a whopping 8.7 hours on “working and related activities” each day, but only one hour on “eating and drinking” and two-and-half on “leisure and sports.” While you’re unlikely to convince the boss to let you cut your day short in favor of spending more time watching TV, you might be able to make a few small changes that boost productivity and get you out the door as soon as possible. Plus, if you take care of yourself, your time at work will be more pleasant.
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As obvious as it sounds, water remains one of the best ways to sustain razor-sharp mental clarity and benefit overall health. Shoot to drain a two-liter water bottle by the time you clock out and replace a vending machine Coke or your second double-tall soy latte of the day with a healthier option like green tea. Consuming enough water not only helps prevent a 3 p.m. sugar or caffeine crash, and the low energy levels that result from dehydration, it also alleviates the dent in your paycheck caused by pricey beverages.
2. Use exercise to fight stress proactively.
Stress triggers the hormone cortisol, which can increase lethargy, “interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function,” and contribute countless other health problems, according to Psychology Today. Regardless of how time-consuming your job may be, you can still make a conscious decision to fight stress by scheduling proven energy boosters and stress busters into your routine, such as a lunchtime walk or workout, or an after-work yoga session.
3. Snack smart.
Mindful eating habits such as opting for protein and calcium-rich snacks like apples, peanut butter, roasted nuts, or yogurt in lieu of office pizza will keep your metabolism humming steadily throughout the day, increase your energy, and prevent the food comas and sugar crashes that often accompany a heavy client lunch or your co-worker’s birthday cupcakes.
4. The power of positive thinking.
It might sound improbable, but positive thinking is also linked to reducing stress. Whether this means calling your grandma for a 10-minute chat or Google image searching “kittens in cups” (you will be in awe of the warm and fuzzy feelings that will ensue), figure out your personal happy place and allow yourself to visit it once a day.
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