Coming back from your holiday can give you the worst kind of Sunday night dread. Sally Evans, director of operations at Making Moves, provides tips for beating the post-holiday back blues.
Working at a desk traditionally involves a lot of sitting, which can have negative effects on our health as well as our productivity levels… especially as for many of us, a holiday means lazing around by the pool, so we may not have gotten our steps in! With this in mind, have you ever considered standing at work instead?
Researchers at University College London discovered that working at a standing desk improved concentration and vigilance by 10% and workers made 45% fewer mistakes. Participants also scored 28% higher in creative thinking tasks when they were standing rather than sitting. Switching to an adjustable standing desk, alternating between sitting and standing, could therefore be the solution to your productivity dips.
Multitasking can be counterintuitive. While it might seem productive to work on two tasks at once, you won’t be able to give either of the tasks your full concentration, so they’ll take longer to complete, and you’ll likely find them more difficult.
In fact, Dr. Earl K. Miller, Professor of Neuroscience at the Picower Institute of Learning and Memory, suggests that humans can’t actually multitask. In a podcast with WKSU, he explains that we’re only able to experience one track of thought at any one time. What we think is multitasking isn’t multitasking at all: it’s what Dr. Miller refers to as “task switching”.
Optimise your work environment
Your work station should be an environment that sparks joy, is free of clutter and is optimised for a productive day. Having an ‘object of solace’ present on your desk during the work day, whether that be a family photograph or a holiday souvenir, can uplift your mood, connect you to a positive memory and act an emotional and physical comfort during stressful times.
After an indulgent holiday, eating the right foods can help give you that little boost you need to power through the afternoon, so try to choose an energy-packed snack that’s full of goodness. Some brain-boosting foods include:
- Oily fish rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel. Eating omega-3 fatty acids correlates with increased blood flow in the brain, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Nuts are not only high in omega-3s, but also contain vitamin E, which helps protect cells and prevent oxidative stress. High levels of vitamin E have been linked to better cognitive performance, as reported in the journal Nutrients.
- Whole grains are another great source of vitamin E, particularly barley, brown rice, oats, and bulgur wheat.
- Berries are high in antioxidants and essential vitamins, and evidence shows that they can help improve blood flow in the brain and boost cognitive function, processing speed, memory, and attention.
- Eggs are high in protein which makes them a great source of energy. According to a study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, eggs are also high in an amino acid called tryptophan which helps your body produce serotonin (the happy hormone).
Try the Pomodoro technique
The pomodoro technique involves working in short 25-minute bursts separated by five-minute breaks. After four pomodoros, take a longer 15–30-minute break before starting the next pomodoro. This productivity method requires you to break your projects down into smaller, more manageable chunks, and you’ll be able to see your progress after each pomodoro.
The reason why this works is simple. We often put tasks off because approaching them brings up negative feelings. These may be feelings of anxiety, apprehension, self-doubt, or just plain boredom. Starting a large task can feel overwhelming, so we do everything we can to avoid it. The pomodoro technique turns starting a project into a short and simple first step… so you’re simply focussing on the next 25 minutes, rather than the full project.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.