How To Refresh Your Mind In The Face Of Work Obstacles

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We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at work, trying to complete a task, when all of the sudden… you cannot remember what you were prioritizing or why. You can actually feel the activity of your brain die down. No matter how you try to start the engine back up again, the day or the work or your life has gotten to you a bit much and nothing seems to be functioning properly.

Instead of pushing forward with your work, it might be helpful to take a deep breath and get your mind out of it for a bit. Purposeful breaks in your day can actually help increase your focus, productivity and energy at work.

Mental exhaustion and burnout are real. Getting out of them and back to a balanced area of productivity and work you are proud of isn’t always easy. Here are some essential hacks to get you out of your mind and into a better place to perform and innovate at work.

1. Snack On It

One of the last things you may be expecting to hear when it comes to increasing productivity is that you should take a break to snack. And yet, here it is. Snacking on something will enact your facial muscles, enabling your body to focus on something else for a while. What you choose to eat could contribute to your productivity and help get you out of a funk at work.

Take avocados for example. They are full of cortisol-lowering healthy fats and omega-3s, which are known to help prevent health issues like eczema, heart disease, arthritis and more. Not to mention the additional dose of potassium to regulate fluid balance, folate to convert carbohydrates into energy and immunity-boosting Vitamin C.

This one may come as a surprise, but popcorn is actually packed with fiber and folic acid. If you are a chocolate fiend, consider adding some dark chocolate to your popcorn. It is the healthiest type of chocolate, plus regular consumption (1-2 oz per day) has been linked to reduced inflammation and increased cognitive function. Your sleep quality may even improve after consuming some, directly improving alertness and your ability to work through problems in the office. Plus, it helps you avoid toppings like extra salt and butter, which are not on the list of productivity hacking snacks.

2. Go For A Walk

If you connect well with the outdoors or the feeling of physically feeling refreshed, then consider going outside for a walk. This, of course, only if the weather and your schedule allow it. Incorporating outdoor activities into your routine can optimize your body’s function with access to fresh air, sunshine, plants, animals, and other environmental factors. Walking the stairs or halls can also be very helpful if movement helps you trigger your refresh.

In fact, clean air is vital for a healthy brain. While oxygen is pivotal to our body’s functioning, the brain is incredibly sensitive to decreases in those oxygen levels. Keep your brain functioning and healing correctly by getting outside for a few minutes a day, especially when you may be experiencing burnout or a productivity obstacle.

If nothing else, going for a walk will get you your daily dose of Vitamin D. This essential nutrient contributes to bone health. Plus, recent research suggests it may also help regulate mood and decrease a proclivity for depression, which can both be major distractions to the work at hand.

3. Stretch It Out

Cortisol-conscious movement is key to a healthy functioning body all the time, but especially when outside stressors are playing a big factor in your life. Chronic stress – or even going through an unexpected bout of stress – can lead to an imbalance in the hormone cortisol. Heightened levels of this hormone can result in health issues like blood sugar levels, fatigue, high blood pressure and digestive issues. These physical factors can cause distractions to your work and have the ability to render you unable to fulfill your daily duties.

Engaging in yoga or some extent of stretching in the morning can help to warm your body up so that your joints and muscles are less likely to lock up during the day. It can also prepare you for a leisurely walk, as mentioned previously. Movement is just as much a shield against sickness as taking vitamin C gummies, routine checkups with a general practitioner, and hot tea on a cold day.

4. Listen To Music

This may be something you already do for a percentage of your workday, but getting out of your own head and into some music may be the “refresh” button your body is craving.

Even if you don’t choose to take a break with music, listening to it while completing tasks has been linked to increased productivity as well. The body has a natural capacity to keep rhythm with the beat, which is especially helpful when rolling through simple tasks or coding options. Of course, music isn’t suggested during meetings or while writing, as lyrics can be distracting and certain arrangements can be nostalgic, causing your brain to go in a different direction than it needs to.

Having dance breaks or listening to music you love can also put you in a better headspace. If you revel in music, schedule a few breaks to really dig into your favorites. Preparing for a big meeting? Play a bit beforehand while listening to that Vanessa Carlton album that got you through middle school. Making a nutrient-dense lunch? Add some fun by playing Spice Girls. Getting out of your head and your task list every once in a while can be an absolute game changer. Here are some key options for your work-from-home (or work from anywhere) playlist.

5. Speak With A Mentor

Feeling uninspired? Mess something up on your project? Do something embarrassing in front of a client? Sometimes, what should otherwise be considered a blip on your radar can really cause a meltdown in the moment. Get ahead of your emotions toward workplace obstacles by phoning a friend or arranging a meetup with your mentor.

A mentor is often someone in your field who has experience under their belt and a proven track record that could benefit your career. Mentors can also be people you identify with–belonging to your gender, your race, your community, your background or otherwise–that has the perspective to help coach you through certain situations. Seeking out mentorship should be a priority if you plan on climbing the ranks in your career, or pivoting with your goals.

While mentors certainly should not be viewed as an “on-call” service, having a previously established mentor relationship can help calm you in the middle of the storm. Knowing you have someone to help you on the other side of things–even if it’s later when your schedules align–can help ease tension and help you make it through the day.

6. See A Mental Health Professional

If you have taken a stab at the above refresh options – or perhaps tried other options like adding indoor plants to help increase your flow of oxygen – and are still experiencing issues with focus or disengagement, it may be time to speak with a mental health professional. Your health–both physical and certainly mental–may be contributing to your workplace distractions more than you realize.

Even if there is no diagnosis to be asserted, they may be able to talk you through your distractions and help you find better solutions for productivity. Sometimes, having a detached third party examine your situation can help provide the perspective you need for change.

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