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Staying Hydrated

Water is an essential nutrient of life. Adequate hydration is the key to short and long term healthy wellbeing and is needed for almost every bodily function.

Even mild dehydration adversely affects both mental and physical performance: just 2% dehydration can cause a 20% reduction in performance in physical and cognitive activities.

What is water used for in the body?

Keeping one’s body hydrated is essential, particularly when working in varied conditions and when you need to concentrate for long periods of time. Drinking little and often throughout the day can help us stay on track and keep us alert.

Our bodies lose approximately 2.5 litres of water each day just by breathing, sweating and going to the toilet. Consequently, if we don’t pay proper attention to topping up our water intake, it’s easy to become dehydrated.

5 signs of dehydration:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Headaches.
  • Dry skin, eyes and lips.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Irritability.

At work, we are always looking for ways to perform better and more efficiently. Yet, in a world where many of us are constantly trying to juggle a hectic work schedule, thirst signals are often ignored and such common signals of dehydration (e.g. fatigue, lack of focus or concentration, headaches, sleepiness and infrequent bathroom breaks) may be overlooked.

If you become even mildly dehydrated, it can directly affect your ability to perform at your best. The evidence linking mild dehydration with a range of chronic illnesses is growing. Routine dehydration, even if mild, can have potentially harmful and even fatal consequences.

Gallstones, kidney stones, constipation, asthma attacks, urinary tract infections, a range of cancers plus the likelihood of suffering heart attacks, are just some of the possible chronic, longer-term effects of persistent mild dehydration.

Top tips

To improve your ability to work in the short term and to boost your long-term health benefits, take care of your hydration needs.

  • Carry a water bottle around with and keep refilling it.
  • Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from being able to do this.
  • Replace coffee, tea and fizzy drinks with water at every opportunity.
  • Drink water with coffee.
  • Drink a glass of water with every meal.
  • If you are in a hot and/or humid environment it is vital that you stay hydrated.
  • Keep well hydrated if exercising.
  • Have hydrated meetings.
  • If you’re thirsty drink water.

If you drink water through the day, by sipping regularly from a bottle, you’ll find that you don’t get as thirsty as often and will be less inclined to want a coffee, tea or fizzy drink (all of which can act as diuretics and make you more dehydrated).


Sleep for energy

The main purpose of sleep is to provide mental and physical restorative healing. Good quality sleep in the right amounts enhances your sense of alertness and improves both your mood and mental functioning. Without sleep we lack energy – sleep is what we require to recharge our batteries.

Tips to improve energy through better sleep:

Take a step back

Look at your diet, exercise patterns, sleeping environment, personal habits, lifestyle, and current concerns, and determine if any of these elements may be getting in the way of getting a good night’s sleep. If not enough time for sleep is a problem, try re-evaluating your priorities.

Reduce caffeine and alcohol

Some people have trouble sleeping due to drinking caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Caffeine usually makes you alert whilst alcohol on the other hand, may help you to doze off initially, but your sleep may not be as restful as it could be.

Eat for sleep

Certain foods may cause heartburn that can keep you up in the middle of the night. Drinking a lot of fluids close to bedtime can wake you up as well with trips to the bathroom. Also, be careful of eating too much or not enough. Both can disrupt sleep by making you feel uncomfortable.

Create an ideal sleep environment

Make sure your mattress provides enough support. If noise is a problem, consider wearing ear plugs, playing relaxing music, or placing rugs, heavy curtains, or double-pane windows in your bedroom. Make sure the room is comfortable, dark, and cool.

Exercise at the right time

Studies show physical activity in the late afternoon can improve the quality of sleep, but working out 2 to 3 hours before bedtime may delay slumber.

Set a regular bedtime and wake-time schedule

Sleeping late or sleeping in may seem ideal on weekends, but it may give you trouble getting to bed on Sunday evening, or waking up on Monday morning.

Find time to relax before going to sleep

Bedtime rituals can help you unwind and encourage a more restful sleep. Different activities work for different people. Try gentle music, soaking in a warm bath, relaxation exercises or reading a book.

Plan your sleep sensibly

Make sure you spend eight hours in bed – so if your alarm is set to go off at 6.30, make sure you’re in bed at 10.30.


Eating healthy when eating out

The key to eating out and watching your diet is to find a happy medium between enjoying yourself and enjoying healthier food options – follow these simple tips to help you keep an eye on your weight and waist when eating out:

Order small portions

Most restaurants serve oversized portions, so:

  • Order half a portion or share with a friend;
  • Select from the starter menu instead and order a side salad if you feel it’s not enough; or
  • Just remember you don’t have to finish your meal, just eat what you want and leave the rest.

Eat slowly

To prevent overeating, chew your food more slowly and put your knife and fork down between bites. This will help you feel fuller in a shorter period of time.

Keep away from the high fat menu options

Focus on avoiding high fat dishes as much as possible, so avoid:

  • Sauces, gravies, bread toppings, salad dressing and fried foods
  • Dishes with cheese, sour cream, cream, avocado and butter
  • Choose grilled or baked dishes, rather than fried or roasted versions
  • Ask for toppings, sauces and dressings to be served on the side; then just add sparingly yourself

Order salads

Salads are an excellent choice as they are low in fat and help you to meet your vitamin and mineral requirements

  • Salad can be made into a balanced, healthy meal if it includes bread and sources of protein (low-fat cheese; tuna; chicken etc.)
  • Check the contents of the salad on the menu and ask the waiter to omit certain high fat foods from your salad, such as high-fat cheeses & avocado
  • Ask for the dressing to be served separately and then add it yourself sparingly and to taste
  • Order whole-wheat bread instead of white bread

Choose smart side orders

  • Choose vegetables in season, a salad or baked potato, rather than chips or onion rings
  • Avoid cream based side dishes
  • For baked potatoes and other dishes with toppings avoid butter, sour cream and cream or cheese options – try mustard, yoghurt or some grated mozzarella instead

Order wisely at these restaurants:

Steak houses steak portions are usually very big. Share a steak with a friend or order a small portion. Italian restaurants Avoid pizzas and cream based pastas.

Japanese restaurants and other oriental restaurants serve a variety of low fat, healthy foods. Stir-fries with noodles or rice and vegetables, beef or chicken skewers, miso soup and sushi are good options. Avoid spring rolls and deep-fried foods.


Manage your work life balance better

The world of work is changing rapidly and the pace of our working lives is getting quicker and harder all the time. A lot of people are finding they have to work harder and longer with fewer resources. Life is very complex and demanding, and it is all too easy for things to get out of balance.

We all have areas of our lives that are important to us, and we need to devote time and energy to them all if we are to remain balanced, happy and healthy. Deciding to manage work life balance requires certain skills and commitment.

The secret lies in honesty – be honest with yourself and assess if your wellbeing, work or relationships are negatively affected by conflicts between your work and personal/family responsibilities.

Common excuses

“I’d love to spend more time with the family, but…”

“Everyone else stays late, so I do”; or

“I’m just doing this for the family’s benefit”; or

“I feel guilty about taking a lunch break”.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you?

You always have choices, they might not be your preferred choice, but none the less they are your choices, for you to make, about what’s best for you.

Here are 5 top tips to help you achieve a better work-life balance:

  • Firstly figure out what really matters –
  • Secondly, drop all unnecessary activities –
  • Thirdly, protect your private time
  • Fourthly, accept help to balance your life –
  • And finally, set aside space in your diary for relaxation and fun

Look at your working life

Over the last 10 years there have been huge changes in the way we work – your work life may be spilling into your personal life, blurring the line between your work and your family life.

Look at your family life

There have been huge changes over the last 30 years in terms of lifestyles and family roles:

  • Lone parenting;
  •  Financial responsibilities;
  •  Looking after elderly parents;
  • Working motherhood; and
  • Dual career couples are just some of the changes that have taken place.

These changes in the way we live make finding time to meet commitments to home, your partner, your children, parents and friends increasingly difficult. And what about yourself, where’s the time you set aside for yourself?


Starting cycling to work

During the winter, it’s very easy to barricade ourselves indoors and hibernate until the sun decides to turn up again. However, staying fit over the colder seasons is essential if you want to achieve an attractive physique for when spring and summer arrive. Get a head start by making your commute to work by bike!

Don’t be put off by the colder temperatures; once you get going, the crisp winter air is a welcome break and you’ll arrive at work feeling refreshed, alert and fit. Perhaps the biggest benefit of commuting to working every day by bike is that it improves your overall level of fitness. Recent research has claimed that you could reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 50 per cent by riding as little as 20 miles per week. This isn’t a stretch for most people who work Monday to Friday jobs.

If you’re wondering what type of bike you should get cycle shops such as evans cycles, wiggle and chain reaction cycles have a variety of mountain bikes that could be suitable. Using a mountain bike instead of your typical road or commuter bike gives you more options later down the line. If you start to develop a passion for cycling, you can take your bike off-road and go on some more challenging country trails. Mountain bikes are also great if you plan on taking some alternative woodland paths to work every morning.

It’s important that you stay safe on the roads. Wear a helmet and if your cycling proficiency is a little rusty, read up online where tips and tricks to riding a bike can be found.

Your wallet will also start to feel the benefits of your hobby. No longer will you have to throw money away on late buses and overpriced petrol. The initial cost of a bike will appear trivial once you see the money you begin to save each month.

Cycling to work also does wonders for your mood and well-being. Sunlight is hard to come by in the winter, so you’ll be making the most of it, absorbing all of the feel-good vitamin D. Not only that, your confidence and self-esteem will increase day by day as you see your fitness and speed improve.