10 Mid-Afternoon Pick-Me-Ups That Won’t Let You Down

If you get sleepy or lethargic around two in the afternoon, you’re in good company. Many people experience a mid-afternoon slump due to any number of reasons, from eating the wrong thing at lunch to spending too much time in a chair. But unless you have the luxury of taking a nap, finding ways to recharge is essential if you want a productive afternoon. Try these 10 pick-me-ups, and see how easy it is to reboot your energy and make the most of the rest of your day.

Drink Up
Sluggishness is often the result of being dehydrated. In fact, if the body loses just two percent of its water, feelings of fatigue can set in. When mid-afternoon hits, turn to the best hydrator around: water. Fill a tall glass with cool, fresh water and keep it nearby throughout the afternoon, sipping regularly for a boost of energy.

Cool Off
Heat and humidity cause a rise in body temperature, making it hard to stay alert. If you’re working in a warm room after lunch, open a window or turn on a fan to cool off. Remove your sweater or suit jacket if that offers relief. Or, try spritzing with a facial mist. The cooling sensation will refresh and re-energize you.

Grab Your Pet
Spending time with your furry companion is both therapeutic and invigorating — and a great activity for a mid-afternoon break. Play a game, have a grooming session, do some obedience training, or just talk to your pet. You’ll both benefit from the experience and be ready and rejuvenated to tackle whatever comes next on the schedule.

Switch Tasks
A boring or tedious task could be a contributing factor of mid-afternoon fatigue. If possible, set aside what you’re doing and switch to a different task for a refreshing diversion. Giving yourself something new to focus on, even if temporary, can provide the burst of adrenaline you need to perk up your mind and body.

Eat Some Energy
While certain foods can weigh you down and make you sleepy, others can revitalize you. If you ate heavy carbs at lunch, for example, you’ll likely feel drained within a few hours. Reach for an energizing snack to counter the effect. A tablespoon of peanut butter on whole grain crackers or a handful of almonds will do the trick.

Converse with an Optimist
Ever notice how optimists energize you? Conversing with someone who exudes positivity can be the perfect antidote to a mid-afternoon slump because it will boost your mood and inspire you. Take a break and call a cheerful friend or family member or visit with a half-glass-full co-worker for some stimulating conversation.

Bend and Stretch
Rejuvenating the body and mind in the middle of the afternoon can be as simple as a stretch. That’s because stretching and bending increase blood flow and activate the nervous system. Take your stretching session a step further and do some yoga poses; yoga has been shown to fight fatigue and encourage vitality.

Walk the Block
While going for a walk may be the last thing you want to do if you’re feeling tired, it’s an effective way to get energized — and you don’t have to do it for very long. Short bursts of exercise awaken the body and mind and can keep you alert for hours. Instead of lowering your head on the desk, take a brisk walk around the block.

Plug In a Song
Music has the power to heal all kinds of health problems, from stress to poor blood vessel function, thanks to its ability to stimulate the brain. But music can also curb boredom and fatigue, which lead to sleepiness. When mid-afternoon hits, plug in your favorite upbeat songs and hum the mid-afternoon yawns away in no time.

Laugh
Research has shown that a good laugh releases endorphins in the body. Endorphins enhance your mood and give you an overall uplifted, invigorating feeling. Simple ideas for mid-afternoon humour? Read the comics in the paper, search for jokes online, or have a good old-fashioned laugh with a coworker.

Don’t let the mid-afternoon slump affect the rest of your day. Try the above pick-me-ups when sleepiness sets in after lunch, and get pumped for an energizing, productive afternoon.

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7 Bulletproof Stress Management Techniques

Stress is a force that catches us all off guard at some point. Life can be going well, but you will still experience eustress, the emotional, physical phenomenon that you begin feeling when great things happen. Stress has a downside too, known as distress. This is the knot in your stomach, the black cloud in your head and the weight on your back that doesn’t seem to go away. Here are seven stress management techniques you can try, perhaps the only seven you’ll ever need.

1. Acknowledge That Stress Has Benefits

Stress has its benefits. Social scientists discovered that stress, or cortisol, is what gets you out of bed and facing the day in the morning. Without natural stress, you would be lying in bed all day, getting nothing done.

Eustress is your best friend; it’s that feeling you get when you finish a huge project, get a fantastic review, transition to a new job or enter a new relationship. Harnessing and capitalizing on eustress is what takes your existing action to the next level of focus and efficiency.

2. Avoid Stress “Dumpers”

There may be people in your life who seem to spread stress wherever they go. Called “stress dumpers,” these individuals bring others down to their level simply because they have nothing better or more productive to say.

You must protect yourself from potential distress by recognizing manifest stress in others and limiting your interactions with them. You cannot control how stressed other people feel; you can only control how often you see and talk with them. Keeping a circumstantially appropriate distance from stressed people prevents their ability to “stress dump” on you.

3. Observe and Learn From the Best

On the flipside of stress dumpers are people who seem to keep their cool in the most challenging of situations. You can further manage and mitigate your own stress by learning from them.

The next time you’re in a group or conversation where one or more people are already starting to melt down, observe anyone who seems to be unusually collected. They may be avoiding eye contact with the stressed person, breathing normally, or even talking in a normal tone of voice. Any of these (and other factors) can contribute to keeping calm in otherwise messy scenarios.

4. Practice Socially Acceptable Deep Breathing

As ludicrous as this can sound, your body and mind can be tricked into relaxing just by using deep breathing. To try it out, breathe in slowly for a count of seven, and breathe out slowly for a count of 11. Take your time, enjoy the process, and repeat until you notice that your heartbeat has slowed down. Continue if desired, but use this tip as necessary when you don’t have other options and want to melt some stress away.

5. Give Stress-Oriented Thoughts the Red Light

The human mind is so powerful that we can create whole trains of negative thought just by entertaining one unsavory idea. We often think, “If X happens, then Y is sure to happen and consequently ruin my day.”

Fortunately, these thoughts need hold no influence over your emotions. All you have to do is remind yourself that most negative things never happen. Instead, plan for the best each day by starting your day with positive reinforcements from the day or week prior. There’s no need to give power to negative what-ifs as long as you replace them with something uplifting and constructive.

6. Know Your Stress Triggers and Hot Buttons

Whether you are introverted or extroverted, type A or type B, you have stress triggers. Oftentimes, we struggle with distress because we only experience the emotional or mental meltdown after something else has happened.

There are two ways to combat your personal hot-button moments. First, if you have a pen and paper handy, take notes after the next time you feel stressed. This will allow you to reflect on the notes later and examine what might have led to your experience.

Second, intentionally structure and prepare for your day against distress. Whether that’s having a water bottle handy, arriving early to a meeting, talking in person rather than over email or getting some extra sleep the night before, do whatever it takes to counteract stress. Preparing to live your day with a fortress against stress will minimize the possibility of getting stressed at all.

7. Place Limits on What You Are Able to Do

You may feel like staying late at the office today or working all the way through the weekend just to be productive, but being a workaholic has serious drawbacks. Doing too much in too short a period of time can cause you to burn out and get stressed unnecessarily.

Commit yourself to eating nutritious, whole foods, drinking plenty of water throughout the day and getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you ignore these tenets, your health and social sanity will suffer. Not burning the candle at both ends allows you to enjoy your work that much more when you are getting work accomplished.

Stress, like eating and sleeping, is bound to happen as a normal part of life. Stress does not have to be your enemy, though, as long as you know how to interact with and manage it. Make healthy decisions with diet and sleep, observe people who you can learn from and avoid your unique stress triggers, and you will be on your way to perfect stress management in no time.

Employee Appreciation Part 3: Happiness at Work

As revealed in a recent blog post, job satisfaction is key to staff loyalty. Employers with high rates of employee dissatisfaction experience five times the level of employee turnover compared to companies with happier employees.

The motivation behind what creates happiness in the workplace was explored in the 2016 Workplace Index Survey. To get a better understanding of it, we asked Canadian workers and managers:

 What can your employer do to improve your happiness?

Responses varied, but we’ve narrowed it down here to the top five.

Top 5 Ways to Improve Happiness at Work

Increased Salary
67% of people said that getting a salary increase would make them happier at work.

Improved Morale
53% of employees noted that an improvement in workplace morale would help increase their overall happiness.

Recognition for Accomplishments
48% said that being recognized for their hard work would make a significant difference.

Feeling heard
42% noted that feeling heard in the workplace is important to their level of happiness.

Provide more flexibility
35% of employees said that having more flexibility at work (such as flexible working hours, telecommuting, etc.) would make them happier.

This concludes our three-part series on Employee Appreciation. You can click here to read Part 1 and Part 2. Explore the infographic below that contains a summary of details from the Employee Appreciation blog post series.

We’d love to know, what makes you happy at work? Comment below or tweet us at @StaplesBusAdv.

employeeappreciationdayinfographic

 

Employee Appreciation Part Two: 6 Ways Employees Stay Motivated

In the Employee Appreciation Part One post, we explored how important employee appreciation is to retaining your talented workforce. Now, to further understand what it is exactly that makes them feel appreciated, we’ll be looking into some of the factors that rated highest for what motivates people in the workplace.

Motivation in the workplace comes in many different forms. Some employees are motivated by a fast-paced environment and deadlines, others are motivated financially, and some are motivated through simple kind gestures like thank you notes and coffee.

To help us better understand some of the key factors that motivate the majority of workers, we asked the following question to Canadian employees and managers in the 2016 Workplace Index Survey:

What motivates you to do your best work?

The top responses help shed a lot of light on what truly motivates employees. While the responses range, the bottom line remains the same: appreciate your employees and in turn, they will be more motivated to work harder for you. Take a look at the top responses from the Workplace Index Survey.

Top 6 Motivating Factors for Employees At Work

Salary
36% of respondents rated salary as the number one motivating factor at work.
Put it into action:

  • While salary increases aren’t always possible, giving employees an idea of future job paths and growth opportunities can help keep them motivated.
  • Develop achievable goals for them to work towards, keep them aware of areas of improvement, and help them develop career growth plans.


Sense of Purpose
32% of employees feel that having a sense of purpose is what helps motivate them to do their best work.
Put it into action:

  • Keep employees involved – when your employees are aware of the overarching company goals it can help them have a better understanding of how their job and tasks fit into the bigger picture.
  • Open communication – keep communication from an executive level right down to department and management level open and honest.
  • Celebrate the wins and learn from the losses, together. Working together will always give employees a greater sense of purpose.


Passion
27% said that having passion for what they do motivates them along the way.
Put it into action:

  • Praise your employees for a job well done. Instilling them with pride in the work they do can help fuel their passion and drive.
  • Give employees new projects to help them expand on their current skill set and helps them on their career growth path.


Coworkers
25% of respondents said that their coworkers are part of what motivates them at work.
Put it into action:

  • Some personalities work better together than others; be aware of this when planning out your overall office design and desk/seating arrangements.
  • When a project comes up, pair people up that you know work well together.
  • Organize team building events to help bring your team closer together.


Flexible Schedules
23% of employees are motivated when they are given flexibility in their workday schedules.
Put it into action:

  • Introduce a telecommuting plan. Allowing your employees to work from home a few times a week can help improve their motivation.
  • Allow your employees to work flexible schedules (i.e. 8am-4pm, 10am-6pm). Allowing workers to shift their schedules can help combat commuting frustration by avoiding the thick of rush hour. And some employees may operate more productively by a slight time shift in when they arrive to work.


Doing work that has a positive impact
23% of employees want to know that they are doing work that has a positive impact.
Put it into action:

  • Many companies have sustainability or corporate charity goals, so give your employees access to volunteer opportunities that can allow them give back.
  • Keep your employees up to date on donations that the company makes to help give them a further sense of purpose.

There are 10 other factors that made the list of top motivators in the workplace. Find out what they are, download the full Workplace Index Report here.

Do you agree with these motivating factors? Which one inspires you to do your best work?

How To Create A Workplace Everyone Will Love

How do you create a work environment that is motivating and inspiring for your employees?  Look around. Everything that goes into your office space helps to create a positive (or negative) office culture. From the breakroom to desk space, employee programs, and even the office layout – every feature of the office has the ability to have an impact on the people that work there.

Learn how to create an office environment that everyone will love from these 4 great articles:

5 Ways to Spark Inspiration in the Workplace: Inspiration comes in many forms – and your workplace is either fueling it, or squashing it. Read more

Modern Office Spaces Are Improving Our Health: Why a “one-size-fits-all” approach to office space doesn’t work. Read more

These Designs Are Changing Up the Workplace: What does the future of office design look like? The road ahead is colourful and active! Read more

Wellness Programs – Are They Worth It? The benefits of a workplace wellness program may reach far beyond personal well-being. Read more

WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS ARE THEY WORTH IT?

The importance of exercise to our overall health is a well understood topic – there have been decades of research and thousands of studies done to support the idea that movement is a key element to living a long, healthy and happy life. So much so that researchers began to wonder, if exercise is so beneficial to personal health, what can it do for the workplace?

Over the last several years, many studies have looked into how exercise and mental health programs benefit employees during the workday; and in addition, what the outcomes are for the corporations who provide these types of programs for their employees. It’s no real surprise that the research shows many benefits of wellness programs in the workplace. In fact, companies who provide employee wellness programs and provide support for healthy activities, both during company time and after hours, have seen many positive outcomes.

“For companies, wellness programs have been shown to boast an average return on investment (ROI) of about 3:1. Outside of the direct financial gains, companies have seen reductions in employee absenteeism, staff turnover and employee stress.” (source)

What can you do today to introduce wellness into the workplace?

  1. Start a walking club
  2. Reward employees for tracking steps or time spent exercising
  3. Hot a yoga class or light boot camp session during the lunch hour
  4. Provide spaces in the office for quiet reflection or meditation

Does your workplace encourage workplace wellness?
Comment below and tell us what you do at work to promote wellness or tweet us @StaplesBusAdv.

The Benefits of Colouring

The rise in popularity of adult colouring books over the last few years has been hard to ignore. They entered the scene and exploded with great applause from everyone using them and gained approval from the likes of therapists, mental health advocates (1), and research professionals from many different industries (2). Health benefits ranging from reduced stress and anxiety to an increase in calmness, creativity and nostalgia from a simpler time have all been reasons people are picking up the pencil crayons and markers and setting time aside for this therapeutic activity.

Have you been colouring?
Visit staplesbusinessadvantage.ca/colouryourlife for a chance to win your own Ultimate Fine Art Gift Pack during the Colour Your Life Contest! Learn more about Prismacolor tools that are perfect for colouring on eway.ca.

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Sources
1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-nikki-martinez-psyd-lcpc/7-reasons-adult-coloring-books-are-great-for-your-mental-emotional-and-intellectual-health_b_8626136.html
2 http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/