5 Easy Swaps for a Healthier, More Productive Workday

5 Easy Swaps for a Healthier, More Productive Workday

Sometimes, our small, daily habits serve as our own Achilles heels—especially when it comes to our workdays. The 9-5 grind can serve as a breeding ground for unhealthy patterns that often emerge out of convenience and a simple lack of time. Luckily, there are a few key healthy adjustments you can make that don’t sacrifice convenience. Read on for our favorite do-this-not-that switch outs.

1. Instead of drinking a sugary coffee drink, try sipping on fruity green tea.

More than 51 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee and nearly 26 percent drink tea on any given day, according to a decade-long University of Illinois study. The study also showed that “about two-thirds of the coffee drinkers and one-third of the tea drinkers put sugar, cream, flavorings or other calorie-rich additives in their drinks.” Here’s where the problem comes in.

We know sugar makes us crash. All those syrups and flavored creamers that make coffee and espresso drinks go down easier only serve to work against us. And if the idea of drinking black coffee has you considering calling it quits, that isn’t a bad idea.

Enter tea. Now before you go rolling your eyes, we’re not suggesting just any green tea. Certain varieties—especially loose leaf sencha—can be mixed with freeze-dried fruit in order to create a pleasantly sweet morning drink that won’t spike your blood sugar and ultimately leave you sluggish. It’s a much more pleasant and sustainable swap for those sugar fanatics than plain green tea or black coffee, and takes the same amount of time to make.

2. Instead of an afternoon slump snack/drink, go for an afternoon slump walk.

A lot of us hit a wall as soon as 2 p.m. rolls around. We often get moody, tired, and irritable. Generally, this wall can be explained by our own circadian rhythms, stress, or our own poor eating and sleeping habits, but explanations do little to help us combat the problem in real time.

What can help is resisting the craving for carbs in the form of sugary sodas or a bag of chips. In fact, instead of reaching for a snack altogether, drink a glass of water and take a 15 minute walk outside.

In an article for the Huffington Post, Murray Newlands, founder of Due, wrote that two 15 minute walks a day increased productivity in his employees by 30 percent. The gentle aerobic exercise helped his employees to decompress and de-stress, eased their minds, increased satisfaction, and improved focus and attention… so, a quick jaunt can essentially remedy the feelings brought on by the afternoon slump. And by drinking a glass of water before you go on a walk, you’ll give your brain enough time to figure out if your body is actually hungry or not, helping you avoid reaching for those empty calories.

3. Instead of working out at night, try working out in the morning.

This is, admittedly, the most difficult switch to make, because it requires changing your routine. But, studies found, it could create a meaningful impact. In a BYU study, researchers found that working out in the morning had some serious benefits, from consuming less empty calories, to being more active throughout the day, to having a better mood.

You’ll also sleep a lot better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise in the morning “sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day.” A pretty good reason to rise an hour earlier, if you ask us.

4. Instead of buying lunch, try prepping lunch.

This is a big one, y’all. According to a survey conducted by the New York City Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, the average restaurant lunch packs a whopping 827 calories, with 30% delivering over 1,000. Yikes.

If the idea of meal prep stresses you out, that’s totally okay. We tend to suggest starting prep with a sandwich you really like, like chickpea or tuna salad. You can make a large batch on Sunday and it’ll last you through the week. As you get more and more used to prep, you can start changing it up! You’ll save money and calories, and most importantly, feel way more energized while working!

5. Instead of sitting all day, make sure to stretch out and stand up.

At this point, there is tons of research proving that sitting all day is bad for your health. Sitting all day is linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. We often develop poor posture and bad habits when sitting all day at work, one being that we don’t take the breaks from sitting that we need to in order to protect our physical and mental well-being.

In an interview with Goop, holistic family physician and osteopathic practitioner Tudor Marinescu, M.D., Ph.D., says she tells her patients that “for every fifty minutes of sitting, take ten minutes to stretch or move.” She also suggests to focus your gaze on something calming during these breaks. “Stand by a window and gaze outside for a few minutes to give the eye muscles a break.”

If taking a 10 minute break every 50 minutes feels unfeasible, that’s fine. But at least stand up, stretch, and move your legs for a minute or two every hour. We suggest some chest opening exercises to combat hunching over the computer.