Gyms are closed.
Jobs are disappearing, at least temporarily, some permanently. Employees have been sent home to work remotely—they have never done this before and they are not aware of the real challenges they are facing.
Time is generally discouraging on weekends. We sit before a screen for long hours, complete our responsibilities, and feel alone and isolated.
Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that we are losing our “groove” of energy and focus.
So how do we get this groove back?
Here are eight simple things that we can put into action right now that will improve every aspect of our personal and work life.
Get up and get dressed. Our attire has a direct impact on our mood, on our motivation to get going in the morning, and ultimately on our actions throughout the day. While it may seem nice to be able to stay in our pajamas, it is not conducive to productivity.
There is some small amount of research that supports the notion that casual dress in the workplace is more comfortable and thus more conducive to productivity. Such research does not, of course, include pajamas and “bed heads.” If you get dressed, you are telling your brain that it is time to get active and end the sluggishness of sleep.
Maintain your normal personal hygiene routine. What did you normally do when you left home and went to the office every morning? What is your personal hygiene routine before bed and on the weekends? Whether you are working at home or going to a largely empty physical office space, that routine must continue. When you look and feel clean and neat, your attitude will improve as well.
Maintain communication with peers and friends. Given the great technology today, there are plenty of free video chatting and conferencing tools you can use that are far preferable to simple phone calls or texts. Use them. Seeing people’s faces and gestures in real time gives you the sense that you are with them, at least in some respect, and this is all a mood-boosting activity—it gives you a sense of socializing and collaborating.
Physical activity is a must. Whether this includes a 15-minute, in-home workout three times a day, cleaning a room, mowing the lawn, or mopping a floor, the bottom line is this: physical activity gives the brain a rest from intellectual activity, and it also promotes the production of dopamine—the notorious “feel-good” hormone. Periodic physical activity as a break from forcing the brain to focus will provide greater energy and increase our focus.
Eat the right diet. So much has been said about the connection between diet, energy, focus, and general well-being that it almost does not bear repeating. But let’s do it anyway:
>> You already know that foods high in fat and sugars are not good either.
>> There are ample supplies of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and raisins in produce sections.
>> Even though a meat shortage is beginning to limit supplies, there are certainly great substitutes, such as soy and veggie burgers. These are great sources of protein, which, of course, provide long-term energy.
Stay hydrated. Lack of hydration does a number of things to the body. But it is known that getting less than the optimum amount of water in your body will cause fatigue. Even a mild amount of dehydration can result in moodiness and downright snarkiness, along with problems focusing.
By contrast, proper hydration elevates the mood and energy levels. From a scientific viewpoint, it increases dilation of the arteries to the brain and thus increases blood flow (thus providing oxygen and glucose).
Don’t overwhelm yourself. We all make to-do lists, which can help us focus. Often, these are best done the night before and then analyzed in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Here is what you should do with that list:
>> Prioritize the tasks, so that you accomplish the most urgent first.
>> Make sure the list is manageable. If you have a long “laundry list” that you cannot accomplish in your day, then you end that day feeling less accomplished and perhaps a bit discouraged. These things will also impact your energy.
>> Do not go to number two on your list until number one is finished. If you find yourself becoming unmotivated or unable to focus, you know it is time to take a break.
About those breaks. They are absolutely essential. Remember, your brain needs to rest, too. Get up, get a snack, water the plants, do a quick meditation, or a few yoga repetitions. These can also be times when you get your physical exercise in and get those endorphins going.
Diana Adjadj, a freelance writer, says that breaks are what keeps her going.
“My schedule of writing can get pretty horrific. There are deadlines to meet all the time. I get up at six a.m. every morning and grab my coffee and some type of protein snack. By 8:30 a.m., I am feeling sluggish. It’s like clockwork. This is when I get away from that screen and do something that requires no brain power, some exercise, some laundry, taking my dog for a walk. It really works—I get back to it with much more energy.”
These are difficult times. It’s easy to become discouraged and to feel isolated, especially if you are thrown into a work-at-home environment.
Take these eight things to heart. You may already understand some of these benefits, but commit to practicing them faithfully. You will eventually get your “groove” back.