It’s easy for staff to stay in tiptop shape when its business as usual… right? So when the workload piles up, it’s easy for staff with even the best of intentions to let their health and fitness routines slip, eat whatever comes to hand and start to disrupt their sleep cycle through stress and late nights.
At Tailored Fit, having worked with executives in the midst of multinational mergers and with partners at law firms working on billion-pound deals we know what it looks like when the going gets tough. Attempting to maintain the same health and fitness regimes during these unusually intense periods is nigh on impossible. That said, for the sake of both health and work performance it is important to find a way of keeping those wellness wheels turning.
So, what can staff do to keep themselves firing on all cylinders when the workload mounts?
1. Do less, but do something
If you are working 12-hour days, you probably aren’t going to get an hour-long gym session after work. In fact, I wouldn’t advise you to. The stress load is likely to be high from the long working day and although physical exercise is usually beneficial, you may find that it just adds another stressor to an already fatigued system.
Small doses of physical activity can be very beneficial though. A short run in the morning, swimming at lunch for 30 mins or a walk home after work can increase blood flow, keep the body mobile, and even clear the mind.
2. Pre-plan your food
We have all had those days when you are so pushed for time that breakfast, lunch and dinner are whatever you can lay your hands on. We have discussed in previous articles the physical and mental benefits of eating the right food, but when we most need energy and our cognitive ability we lack the time to make the smart decisions on nutrition.
Luckily, whether it’s a big deal coming in or a new project, when workload increases dramatically we usually know it’s about to happen. In the calm before the storm you need to make a game plan for success. Stock the freezer at home with quick but nutritious food. If you are eating out, plan for places that can give you the power your brain and body need. A burger on the way home isn’t going to give you the boost you need in the boardroom the next day!
3. Micro breaks
Scheduled mini-breaks throughout the day keep you operating at high-efficiency. Whether it’s meetings, calls or just time in front on the computer; if you a sedentary for longer than an hour, then you can expect your energy, focus and brain power to start taking a tumble.
Take 5 mins out of every hour to move and clear your head. Whether it’s popping to the toilet, grabbing a cup of tea or walking down the stairs to stretch your legs you will be more efficient in 55 mins than you would in 60 without the preceding break.
4. Time to clear your mind
There’s a great saying that comes from Buddhism that I think applies well to the working world:
“You should meditate for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should meditate for an hour”.
Obviously, this is not practical, but I there exists an important message there. The times you most need to sit and clear you mind are the same times when you feel you feel you have no opportunity to do so.
Clearing your mind doesn’t have to take the form of a spiritual meditation. It can be as simple as eating your lunch without staring at your phone or chatting about work. You can sit on your commute and spend 10 minutes either using a mindfulness app or just sitting in silence. The benefits of allowing your mind to sit in neutral (even for but a few minutes) has a great carryover to your mental wellbeing and cognitive abilities.
At risk of quote overload, here’s another of my favourites: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” - Abraham Lincoln.
The notion of foregoing sleep in order to get additional working hours is so unbelievably counterproductive. Sleeping is equivalent to sharpening your axe for a day of corporate woodchopping. The shorter your sleep, the blunter your metaphorical axe.
So, the ideal 8 hours may at times be impossible but if you are a CEO and your staff are pulling all-nighters or sleeping less than 6 hours then do something about it! If your staff were coming in drunk, you would put a stop to it; sleep deprivation has the exact same effect.
So, there’s our 5 tips on how to protect your health during intense work periods. Whether you are reading this for your own health or the health and performance of the staff you manage; nobody wins when your trade health for work.
If you want to find out how we help to create high-performance, healthy workplaces, get in touch for a free consultation.