You may have the best of intentions, but time and again you find yourself reaching for caffeine when you get tired at work, visiting the junk-food loaded vending machine daily and putting off exercise because you lack time or energy.
You know you need to do better, but you also know that you have too much going on. Later, you think. Later, you will focus on being healthier.
But your bad habits are doing damage to your body and your business.
Bad health habits that negatively impact productivity
How do you think your boss would react if she knew that your bad habits were leading to a poorer performance at work? Would she want to give you a raise or promotion? Or would she be concerned that your poor physical state could actually end up hurting the company’s bottom line? More important, wouldn’t you like to come up with better ideas, feel energized at work and be more focused?
The following bad health habits impact productivity:
Sleep deprivation makes it tough for brain cells to communicate effectively, which can lead to mental lapses that affect your memory and visual perception.
Junk food not only leads to weight gain, increases your risk for depression, causes headaches and leads to high cholesterol and blood pressure, but can affect your ability to think.
A lack of physical exercise can lead to a continuing deterioration of memory, language ability, attention and other cognitive functions.
Small health changes with big impacts
Science shows that by treating your body better, your brain function will improve. Adopting healthier habits will not only pay off physically, but also mentally. Here are some tips to get started:
Don’t skip breakfast
Eating breakfast can boost short-term memory and attention. Focus on grains, dairy and fruits. Don’t overeat – too much food can hurt your concentration.
Eat smart foods
Fruit juice can boost a short-term memory boosting and improve your thinking and mental ability because of glucose, which your body processes from the sugars and carbs you eat. Don’t overdo this food source – too much is linked to heart disease and other conditions. Other smart foods include fish, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is critical for brain health. Nuts, seeds and even some dark chocolate can enhance focus and slow cognitive decline. Avocados and whole grains can improve blood flow and charge up brain cells, while blueberries boost learning.
Get enough sleep
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that getting enough sleep at the right time is “as essential to survival as food and water. Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly.” The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults age 26-64 need seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Exercise helps in a number of ways, from stimulating brain cells to improving mood and sleep and reducing stress and anxiety. It’s recommended getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise – such as walking – during the week to improve memory.
Finally, keep in mind that if you’re going through a tough time either professionally or personally, it can be tempting to turn to “comfort” foods that may actually be bad for you – or to stay in your pajamas all weekend, binge watching your favorite show. But when you’re feeling down, the best remedy isn’t a donut and a “Game of Thrones,” marathon, but a healthy breakfast and a brisk walk to get you on the road to being happier personally and professionally.