You take care of your equipment, office, vehicle and home, but if you aren’t taking care of yourself everything can quickly fall apart. Poor health doesn’t just take a physical toll on the body. It can also seriously hinder mental performance.
We all know that we should eat a healthy diet, exercise and not smoke. But even when you do all three of these things you may still unknowingly have unhealthy habits that are hurting your productivity. Breaking these four unhealthy habits can help you boost energy and gain the focus needed to reach your biggest goals.
Unhealthy Habit #1 – Not Eating Breakfast
Breakfast sets the tone for how your body functions throughout the entire day. When you skip breakfast your blood sugar levels are going to be thrown out of whack with high spikes and low dips. This directly impacts your energy levels. Among many other researchers, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that eating breakfast helps to improve cognitive functioning, which in turn improves productivity.
Breaking the Bad Health Habit: Never skip breakfast. If waking up 15 minutes earlier isn’t an option consider pre-made meals that can be quickly heated up and eaten at home or in the office. Your breakfast should be a balanced mix of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy.
Unhealthy Habit #2 – Not Getting Enough Uninterrupted Sleep
You may think that sleeping less so you can work more will help you increase productivity, but it actually does the exact opposite. Getting enough shut-eye should always be a top priority —it isn’t enough to grab naps here and there. For optimal cognitive and physical performance, you need long periods of uninterrupted sleep. During sleep the brain goes through four different, reoccurring sleep stages, from right after you fall asleep through the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage when your dreams take over.
It is critical that all stages are cycled through multiple times, because at each stage, different things are happening in your brain and body. When your body is deprived of sufficient, uninterrupted sleep it can disrupt the immune system, circulatory system and cause hormone levels to rise. The longer you go without an adequate amount of sleep every night, the bigger the sleep deficit will grow and the more cognitively impaired you’ll become.
Breaking the Bad Health Habit: Adults need to aim for at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. This is the bare minimum amount of sleep you need to allow your body to go through an entire sleep cycle three to four times and recover from daily activities. If you are moderately active to very active, the need for sleep increases to eight hours of sleep a night. To fall asleep easier, avoid caffeine for several hours before sleeping and block out light as much as possible in your bedroom.
Unhealthy Habit #3 – Not Relaxing Enough
Stress – that one word should raise concern. When we get wrapped up in getting things done we forget to make time for ourselves to just relax and enjoy life. The result is burnout and skyrocketing stress levels. There are numerous studies that have proven taking time off can greatly improve productivity levels. There is also evidence that taking time out to socialize with others and build stronger relationships helps people live longer, healthier lives.
Breaking the Bad Health Habit: Don’t forgo your vacation time. At least once a quarter take a few days off so you can re-energize and reconnect with why your work really matters. During workdays, time block relaxation breaks. Start with a 10 minute meditation period in the morning, and incorporate a 20 minute walk in the afternoon. Giving yourself just 30 minutes a day to unwind and let your thoughts wander decreases stress levels and can help improve creativity.
Unhealthy Habit #4 – Not Getting on Your Feet Enough
Sitting at a desk all day may help your financial well being, but it is doing nothing for your health. Paired with the lure of relaxing in front of the TV, experts say there is a growing epidemic of people that rarely get on their feet. It’s a problem that didn’t exist just a few generations ago, but as we add more screens in our lives, activity levels often decrease. Being sedentary is bad for both your physical and your mental health.
Breaking the Bad Health Habit: The solution is as simple as standing up. When you have a call, walk around instead of sitting. If you watch TV at night, stand up during the commercial breaks and walk around or do simple calisthenics such as squats or calf raises. Each morning stretch for a few minutes after getting out of bed. Taking a relaxation break to go for a walk in the afternoon will kill two birds with one stone.
Not making your health a top priority is the biggest habit that needs breaking. As soon as you start improving your health, productivity will follow!