3 Behavioral Nudges to Manage Energy at Work

Simple actions and shifts in your daily work routine to help you manage energy on long wok days.

A few months ago, the spring in my morning routine starting to fall away. Every day I woke-up more sluggish than the day before. Not just sleepy – bone tired. It wasn’t long until every morning I wanted to hide under the covers until the last possible moment.

Why did I lose my willpower to wake-up in the mornings? And, more importantly, how can I manage energy better?

Life feels more vibrant when I want to jump out of bed when waking-up in the morning. The sun shines brighter and my heart starts humming a good tune. For two years I managed to literally jump out of bed and rush to the coffee pot.

Embodied cognition refers to the feedback loop between our bodies and our brains.

Do you ever have those days, when all you want to do is hide away under the covers?

I still remember the day when I became hyper aware of the mind-body connection to manage energy. It was the last cross country race of the season on a winding course that was known for exceptionally taxing hills and treacherous curves. Tree roots poking out from the soil could trip-up a runner at any moment.

The race was on an unusually cold day in October. Having failed to prepare for the temperature drop, I couldn’t stop shivering at the starting line. Even before we began, my body was pinging off signals of distress. Wind whipping off my face, I re-directed my thoughts away from the cold. A simple song came into my head…

Now anyone who runs cross-country is a little bit crazy – it’s a lonely, torturous sport. But that song kept me company, looping in my head until before I knew it the race was over. Thighs on fire, Hands freezing, lungs burning… that little song occupied my mind’s focus until the race was run.

By keeping my brain calm and steady, I was able to fend off the high-intensity stress of racing. This racing memory lit a bright-idea lightbulb in my head.

There’s nothing wrong with my body. Maybe I’m struggling to drag myself out of bed because my mind is on overload?

Under pressure to perform from 7am to 10pm every day of the week, there are few opportunities when I let my mind wander and manage energy by giving myself time to recharge.

Taking care of our bodies also takes care of our brains.

Nothing replaces a good night’s sleep, but enhancing the mind-body connections with simple behavioral ‘nudges’ can sustain sharp thinking and focus all day long. A recent study in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry shows that we feel less tired when standing or sitting with straight posture – seems easy enough. Other small behavioral nudges, like getting a change of scenery when we’re stuck or taking a deep breath to reduce stress, manage energy – and improve our workday.

In the intention of growing a healthy mind, body and spirit here are…

3 Easy ‘nudges’ to generate more energy throughout the workday:

1. Set timers on your phone to focus and recharge.

Our phones are either distractors that disconnect us from those around us or helpful reminders from our smarter, best-intentioned selves. I like the app ‘Forest,’ which plants a digital tree while you maintain your focus. Setting reminders helps me remember to take brief stretching and water breaks. A little movement goes a long way to refreshing our minds with new perspective.

2. Check your posture.

I recently went to a chiropractor for a spinal health assessment. While I thought that my posture was bang on – shoulders back and head high – the doctor pointed out a twist in my spine with my right side more forward than the left. Undue pressure from this unconscious spinal twist was triggering headaches! I’m now undoing years of twisting forward to access my mouse. With the support of my supervisors, I am fortunate to use a standing desk to help my posture and stay more alert throughout the day.

3. Mix-up your point of view.

It’s way too easy to plop down at a desk and locked into one position: staring straight in front of my computer. Whenever possible, try to mix up your desk set-up. Can you print out a paper and read it in the break room or near the copy machine? Or turn your chair to another angle?

Have you tried any of these behavioral nudges before? Do you have any favorite tips that have worked for you?

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