It’s 3 o’clock and the dreaded brain fog has descended. The problem is that you still have several hours of work left on the clock.
And if you’re working with high-pressure situations or handling heavy machinery, that brain fog doesn’t just put you at risk. It puts everyone around you at risk.
Here are three tips for managing fatigue at work that will leave you bright-eyed and ready to take on another long workday, even if it’s only Monday.
1. Eat Smart
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. And if you don’t eat well, your body won’t have any good fuel to run on.
First things first: don’t skip meals. Many people try to skip meals in pursuit of a diet, but not eating actually slows down your metabolism. Your body thinks it has to conserve resources, so it cuts down on your energy expenditure until your next meal.
That said, you shouldn’t overeat either. Large meals can actually drain your energy, since your body has to work harder to digest them.
You should also make sure that you drink enough water. The average adult human is 50 to 60% water, which sounds like a lot until you realize that your mental and physical coordination starts to get impaired at 1% dehydration. Water is the primary building block of cells and helps us metabolize food.
And when you’re crafting meals, make sure to include iron-rich foods, such as spinach, lentils, salmon, and lean red meat. Iron helps your body produce hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen.
Guess what? When your body is oxygen-deprived, you’re not operating on all pistons.
2. Sleep Better
If you’re tired during work, this one should be obvious.
As a general rule, adults should get between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, though this varies between individuals. You should always sleep at the same time and in the same place – no after-work naps!
Sleeping at the same time in the same place trains your brain to associate this place with sleep and sets your circadian rhythm so that you can fall asleep easily. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, cut down on caffeine. Don’t drink more than five caffeinated beverages throughout the day, and you shouldn’t consume any caffeine after dinner (if you’re sensitive to caffeine, don’t consume any beyond the late afternoon).
If you’re having trouble staying asleep, or if you find yourself lying awake fretting in bed, learn a few relaxation techniques. Slow breathing and body awareness meditation are good choices, though some people find that calming music or white noise is helpful.
Whatever you do, try to avoid relying on sleeping pills. They’re not a permanent solution and can actually create chronic insomnia if you use them too often.
3. Make Lifestyle Changes
If you find yourself worn out at work despite a healthy diet and sufficient sleep, it may be time to take a closer look at your lifestyle.
As a rule, moving more and sitting less is better for you. It keeps blood flowing through your body and brain, pushing away the dreaded afternoon fog.
If you work in a job that requires you to sit for much of the day, it might be time to develop a workout routine. Regular exercise trains your body to work more efficiently, helps you sleep better, and can even help reduce work-related stress and fatigue associated with work.
You don’t need to run ten miles every morning, but a consistent routine that you complete before or after work for at least 30 minutes a day can help immensely.
More Guidance for Managing Fatigue at Work
Managing fatigue at work is all about arranging your priorities. You want to stay awake, so you have to make concessions in your lifestyle in order to be more efficient and effective.
If your company needs more tips to make a safer, more productive work environment, check out our blog for more useful posts.