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September 26, 2013

Consumer Reports: Tricks to boost your energy

(Continued)

Bring green into your space. A Taiwanese study found that office workers reported feeling less nervous or anxious when a plant was visible nearby. That's an important benefit, because anxiety can burn up a lot of your energy. The study's authors stated that nature's beauty aids in recovery from mental fatigue and "generates opportunities for cognitive restoration." And other research has linked vegetation to increased productivity. Not a plant person? Simply looking at objects with bright greens and reds — a wall hanging, for example — can have a similar effect, Sugarman says.

Light it right and stay cool. The ideal lighting for any work space is bright but indirect; overhead light shining straight down on you can cause glare and eyestrain, according to ACOEM guidelines for fighting fatigue published in 2012 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Aim lighting toward the walls or ceiling instead, and keep the thermostat set at 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures that are too high can slow down your mental function.

Check your neck. If you need another reason to sit up straight, Consumer Reports suggests that you consider this: For every inch your head tilts forward, the amount of weight your neck has to support doubles, a chore that could affect your daily level of fatigue. Whether sitting or standing, keep your shoulders back, your spine straight and your head held high above your neck.

Fake a snooze. A quick nap is a great way to restore energy, but it's not always practical in the middle of the day. Instead, simulate the effects of a nap using this breathing strategy: Try taking quick, short inhales followed by slow, drawn-out exhales for at least 3 minutes and no more than 20. "When we breathe in, it puts our nervous system into a fight-or-flight mode, meaning we're using energy," Sugarman says. "But when we breathe out, it signals rest."	

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