Adopt these proven health boosting habits to smash work performance

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You might be surprised at how much your health impacts your work performance. Studies show there's a strong connection between healthy habits and workplace productivity. So, for this year's Nutrition & Hydration Week, we're spotlighting the importance of health in the workplace. If you've recently been feeling sluggish at work, we hope this blog will help you adopt a healthier lifestyle that could make all the difference.

Science confirms work performance impacted by health

Whether you’re working from home and sitting down all day, or your job sees you standing up and on the move, there’s a lot you can do to feel better and perform at a higher level in the workplace. This 2012 study from Brigham Young University found a high correlation between employee health and productivity. More recently, a 2020 study by the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity also found direct links to wellness and workplace performance.

Eating healthily, getting enough sleep, taking breaks and upping your activity levels during the day can have a profound impact. Let’s take a look at 8 work-healthy habits to get into.

1. Power up with breakfast

What you eat first thing affects your productivity for the rest of the day. There’s plenty of research to show that people who eat breakfast have better concentration, memory and energy levels.

Aim for a mix of high-fibre carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats and fruit or vegetables. Try to avoid sweet breakfasts that cause your blood sugar levels to spike and crash a few hours later. Here are some easy breakfast suggestions:

  • Overnight oats made from porridge oats, berries and milk/yoghurt kept in the fridge overnight. Oats are high fibre, which help you feel fuller for longer. And berries are known as a superfood as they’re high in fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants that can ward against cell damage.
  • Homemade smoothie with any fruit plus milk/yoghurt. Add a tablespoon of almond butter for extra protein, and some ground flaxseed to slow down hunger pangs later.
  • Nuts, berries, honey and granola topped with Greek yoghurt.
  • Avocado on wholegrain toast, or on an omelette.

2. Get snack savvy

You need fuel to take you through a busy workday. So stave off afternoon slump snack cravings by stashing some of these in your desk or bag:

  • Oatcakes or rice cakes with peanut or almond butter
  • Hummus with raw veggie sticks
  • A handful of almonds, pistachios or walnuts
  • Plain popcorn
  • Homemade trail mix made from dried fruits, pumpkin seeds and nuts

3. Prep lunch ahead of time

Refuelling your brain and body with a wholesome lunch will give you bags more energy for the rest of the day.

You need simple and portable options to keep in the fridge for when it’s lunch o’clock. So, save money and hassle by meal prepping ahead of time. Think wraps and mason jar salads, buddha bowls and bento boxes. Keep the condiments separate to prevent everything getting soggy, then pour over just before it’s time to eat.

4. Leave your desk or work station for lunch

It’s tempting to have lunch at your desk or work station while you’re still working. This is especially if everyone around you seems to be staying put to eat. But taking a brain break away is crucial if you want to stay focused until home time. That might mean eating in a communal canteen, or taking food outside if the weather’s warm enough.

In the US, research shows that people who take a daily lunch break are more satisfied at work, and their productivity improves too.

5. Claim your work breaks

Make sure you take your scheduled breaks throughout the day. And if you work from home, aim to build regular time outs onto your to-do list to give your brain some breathing space.

It might seem odd to say that taking breaks is good for your work performance. But that's because It’s hard to keep performing at the same level if you have to focus on one task for too long. People who skimp on breaks tend to lose focus and concentration.

6. Aim for good hydration

Staying hydrated is a no-brainer for your health. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, so it makes sense to stay hydrated at work.

Typically, for best results, you should drink about eight glasses of water a day. But that can change depending on the temperature around you, how active you are and the state of your overall health.

One way to boost your water intake? Make a reusable water bottle as prominent on your desk as your phone or mouse. You can give water a more interesting twist by adding wedges of lemon, lime, or cucumber, or using a fruit-infuser water bottle. Also, consider swapping one of your teas or coffees during the day to a mug of hot water (or herbal tea).

It can be tricky to remember to keep sipping if you’re busy at work. So, set your phone alarm to remind you to drink a glass every hour. Or use an app that tracks what you drink, and reminds you when you haven’t had enough.

7. Keep moving

Here’s some bad news for seated workers: sitting down too much is bad for us, and we should all aim to stand up for at least two hours during the day. Our advice:

  • If your workplace is close enough, consider walking or riding a bike to work rather than taking public transport or driving.
  • Walk to someone’s desk or work station to speak to them instead of sending them a message.
  • Track your steps with a pedometer or fitbit. You could also challenge team mates to do the most steps during a workday. Most healthy adults should aim for 10,000 steps a day.
  • Try a standing desk at home, or ask for one in the office.

Read more tips on how sedentary workers can stay healthy.

8. Stock up on sleep for better work performance

Anyone who’s had a bad night’s sleep before a gruelling workday knows there’s definitely a link between sleep and work performance. You can check out some surprising sleep research findings on the World Sleep Day website.

If you’re under-slept, you'll have less physical energy to power yourself through the day. You'll also find it harder to make decisions and regulate your emotions. Your reactions might even be impaired, which in an industrial setting could be dangerous.

Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time every day so your body and brain know what to expect. Steer clear of caffeine for at least a few hours before bedtime if you can. And bedtime scrolling and streaming can make it harder to fall asleep. That’s because blue light from digital devices like phones and tablets can suppress the hormone your body releases to help you feel sleepy.

If you can crush it at work the next day, it may just be worth sacrificing a few hours of scrolling before bedtime…

More nutrition, hydration and sleep tips

Find out more on how what you eat and drink can help you at work throughout Nutrition and Hydration Week. And check out extra sleep tips for World Sleep Day on 18 March 2022. 

For more helpful employee tips from HR GO Recruitment, check out our careers blogs. Need help finding your next job? We're here to help. Find your local branch to talk to one of our helpful recruitment consultants. Or, register online to get started now.

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