Whether you’re coming off furlough or just heading back into the office a few days per week, getting back into the swing of things should be an enjoyable experience.
Nothing feels quite normal at the moment, and it probably won’t for a long time. Therefore, trying to keep yourself happy and healthy with a varied diet and balanced lifestyle can really get that feel-good factor going at work.
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five to back to work tips.
Have a happy lunch
Whether you take your lunch to work, eat out or take out, or there’s a staff canteen, what you eat at this time of day can have a massive impact on mood, motivation and energy. Our happy hormone, serotonin, needs the amino acid, tryptophan, plus other nutrients for its production. The good news is that tryptophan is found in many different protein-containing foods so there’s plenty of choice. Best lunchtime foods to consider are chicken, eggs, fish, soya produce, including tofu, cheese, turkey, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Combine with some vegetables or salad.
You can always cook some extra the night before and eat it for lunch the next day, or quickly rustle up a healthy salad using any of the above ingredients.
For some, doing regular exercise has been an absolute saviour during lockdown, helping to keep a balanced mood and energy levels high. However, for many it’s not been possible and home-working has made some of us more sedentary.
If you can walk or cycle to work, this can really help increase activity levels without thinking about it too much. If not, why not resolve to get into a routine by walking every lunchtime. Now gyms and sports centres have re-opened, if you feel comfortable to use them, why not consider working out or joining a class before work, during lunchtime or after work.
Try not to graze
Home working has meant the fridge and store cupboard have been much more accessible, therefore the temptation to graze and overeat is never far away. Now that you’re physically not in front of them, it should be much easier to banish grazing.
The body needs definite breaks between meals so that it can enter the post-absorptive phase of digestion. Constant grazing doesn’t allow this to happen and the body will start storing more fat than it would otherwise do. Try to stick to eating three satisfying and well-balacned meals a day and resist the urge to snack if can, especially if you’re not really hungry.
If you do find you are hungry between meals think of protein and fruit as your go-to snack: think of cheese with apple, nuts with dried fruit or hummus with crudités.
Many people have reported being able to get more sleep because they haven’t had the daily commute. However, some have found sleep more difficult due to heightened anxiety levels. Whatever your situation, poor sleep is going to impact on how you feel and function at work.
Make sleep a priority and aim for seven to eight hours per night. Having a good bedtime routine can help massively, and most importantly, turn off electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime. Blue light is known to keep us awake.
Be kind to yourself
This is most important of all. Life has been challenging for everyone for many different reasons over the last few months and will continue to be for some time. It’s also given us a chance to evaluate what’s working and what’s not in our lives.
Crucially, it’s made us appreciate the little things in life that matter and also confirmed that none of us are invincible. Try to avoid giving yourself negative messages. For example, if you’ve put on some weight during lockdown, resolve to improve your diet and get more exercise but don’t beat yourself up. Additionally, allow yourself some ‘down time’ to just be in your own headspace – your thought processes will become much clearer as a result.
So, with a little preparation, the next back to work phase can be enjoyable and rewarding.
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