While some people might dread going to work, for others it can allow them to feel productive and as if they’re making positive contributions not just toward the company they work for and their fellow employers, but to society as well. However, work can, at times, be both stressful and exhausting – whether from long work hours, trying to meet deadlines, or just the commute to and from the job – which means there is a potential risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, along with a decrease in energy levels and feeling “burnt out,” so to speak. This feeling of mental exhaustion and fatigue can take a detrimental toll – not only on one’s work performance (including frequent absenteeism), but within their personal life as well. Below, Dr. Ghahary shares tips on how to keep you feeling mentally healthy and energized on the job.
For some, staying energized at work is as simple as drinking a few cups of coffee. In fact, some people cannot even go without coffee to start their day – let alone get through it – and there are many pros and cons associated with this caffeinated beverage. So just how does coffee work? When we perform certain activities, such as thinking, a product called adenosine is produced which slows down the activity in our brain. When we drink coffee, it binds to the adenosine receptors, which prevents our brain activity from slowing down and reduces fatigue. Along with increasing energy, a recent study has also shown that coffee consumption can be of benefit to the heart, and it is even being studied for its potential benefits in battling certain progressive diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
But coffee isn’t the only beverage you should be consuming while on the job. Water is just as important (if not more) too, and HealthLink BC suggests drinking at least six to eight 8 fl oz (250 mL) glasses each day – and it’s something that you can usually have with you at all times; if not on your desk, then in your office lunch room. Water plays a crucial role in many different bodily functions, including digestion, absorption, as well as maintenance and regulation of body temperature, and is even a great substitute for high-calorie beverages – especially if you’re looking to lose weight. When you don’t drink enough water, you could develop dehydration. Signs of dehydration include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, and dry eyes. In most cases, dehydration can be cured by drinking water. However, in severe cases it may need to be treated in hospital where you are given fluids intravenously. This is often the case for individuals who develop conditions such as the stomach flu and experience frequent vomiting.
Another way you can improve your energy level at work is by paying attention to your posture at your desk. Also note that the longer you sit, the more fatigued you are likely to feel. If you’re able, try using a standing desk rather than a desk that requires you to sit at a chair for hours on end. This can not only decrease fatigue and help improve your posture but can also improve your circulation. If you are going to be in a sitting position, try to keep your joints (such as hips, knees and ankles) slightly open, make sure your knee joints are at or below the hip joints, as well as ankle joints kept in front of the knees. You can find more helpful tips on good body position by visiting the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website at CCOHS.ca.
You should also take breaks. Getting up from your desk mid-afternoon and stretching, or even just doing a small bit of movement, can help the body recharge and increase stamina. If you’re able, take a short 10-minute walk around the block, as this will also promote brain health and increase energy levels too.