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Nothing can sap your strength or put you in a funk faster than stress from work. If you've been feeling down even as you climb up the corporate ladder, try these easy ways to feel happier, calmer, and refreshed from 9 to 5.1. Drink water.
Did you know dehydration can make you feel sluggish and depressed? Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Recent studies show you don't need all of the eight glasses a day formerly prescribed by doctors and nutritionists, but drink enough to satisfy your thirst, and then some. Consider replacing your soda and juice with water, too. One easy solution: keep a big bottle of water at your desk and make several trips to the water cooler to refill it. (Use a container that is meant to be reused, like a Rubbermaid or Nalgene bottle. Some lightweight plastic containers break down after several uses and can cause you to consume harmful contaminants.)2. Eat healthy snacks.
Instead of a chocolate bar from the vending machine for your 3:00 pick-me-up, snack on apples, low-fat yogurt, or carrots with peanut butter. If trail mix appeals to you, try this mood-boosting recipe: mix walnuts, almonds, lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, and raisins together in a large container for a week's worth of snacking. These mineral-rich mini meals will give you plenty of power to stay focused and alert all afternoon.3. Avoid heavy foods and alcohol at business lunches.
It's tempting to indulge in rich foods or a nice glass of wine during a business lunch -- especially when you can charge it to your expense account. But falling asleep from a food coma at your desk just isn't worth it. Stick with an entree salad and a glass of sparkling water to keep you on your toes for the rest of the day. And instead of finishing the meal with dessert and coffee, order herbal tea. Both sugar and caffeine can set you up for a mood nosedive right around the time you need to be most productive.
Take a break from sitting at your desk in the stale office air and go for a brisk walk around the block. Just 10 minutes is all you need to clear your head and feel revived.5. Try a Spinal Twist.
Get a feeling of calm and serenity with two easy yoga poses that can be done while sitting at your desk:
Step 1. Cross one leg over the other and place the opposite hand on your top leg.
Step 2. Gently twist your upper body in the opposite direction of your top knee, using your hand on the back of your chair for leverage.
Step 3. Take a few slow deep breaths in this position.
Step 4. Change sides and repeat.6. Follow with a Seated Warrior.
Step 1. Begin by sitting up tall and pressing both feet into the floor.
Step 2. Raise both arms up straight overhead and press your palms together firmly.
Step 3. If you have no neck injuries, drop your head back slightly and look up at your thumbs. Make sure your shoulders are not hunched up next to your ears, so allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back.
Step 4. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths in and out of your nose in this posture.
Step 5. Slowly release your arms down to your sides and open your eyes.
Putting off that report that's due at the end of week until Thursday afternoon will leave you feeling plenty stressed. Giving yourself ample time to get tasks done will help you feel less frazzled and stay motivated. Plus, you can score brownie points with your boss by getting projects done ahead of time!8. Make a 3-task to-do list.
A mile-long list of things to do each week can make you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Instead, allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment every day by creating a more manageable three-item to-do list. You'll be surprised at how much more you get done by shortening your list!
Originally published on LHJ.com, February 2005.