Did you feel a little jetlagged today? It’s not all in your head – or at least, you didn’t make it up. The effects of Daylight Saving Time on health and well-being are well-documented, including everything from general sleepiness to an elevated risk for heart attack and stroke. (Fortunately, those more serious risks dissipate a few days after the change.) So, if you’re feeling a little behind, the clock might be to blame. But, because your boss probably won’t buy that excuse for long, you’ll need to catch up as soon as possible — ideally, by tomorrow morning. Here’s how.
1. Give yourself a break.
First of all, recognize that Monday is probably not going to be your most productive day of the year, and that’s OK. Getting stressed out over it won’t help; in fact, rushing around trying to play catch-up will sap both your productivity and your enthusiasm for the tasks on your to-do list. (It also might give your colleagues a bad case of secondhand stress … not what anyone needs the day after the time change.)
Instead, take a beat, gather your thoughts, and pick one thing to focus on. You don’t need a 20-minute meditation break to get the benefits of mindfulness at work. You just need to take a deep breath, and remember to do one thing at a time.
2. Plan the tough stuff for later in the week.
“Though a bit simplistic, a rule of thumb is that it takes about one day to adjust for each hour of time change,” writes Michael J. Breus, PhD, at WedMD. “There is significant individual variation, however.”
What that means is that you’re better off doing complicated tasks or having difficult conversations later in the week. Of course, that’s not always within your control, but as much as possible, put off the tough stuff, just this once.
3. Don’t lean on the caffeine.
Studies have shown that caffeine affects the internal body clock. Researchers at the University of Colorado and the Medical Research Council in Cambridge found that drinking coffee while changing time zones can help with jetlag, but only if you’re traveling west. Springing forward, alas, is similar to traveling east – in other words, caffeine might do you more harm than good. So while today might seem like a perfect day for an extra cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, imbibe at your own risk.
4. Exercise in the sunlight, especially early in the day.
Continuing with our jetlag metaphor, research suggests that exercising outdoors can diminish the effects of jetlag. Of course, you’re not traveling from Tokyo to L.A., like the subjects in the linked study, but you can still use sunlight to reset your body clock by exercising outside for 20 minutes or so in the morning.
5. Go to bed earlier tonight.
If you need a nap, don’t plan it too close to bedtime, and try to get to bed early tonight – or at least at your usual time, even though it’ll feel an hour earlier. The faster you adapt your habits to the time change, the faster your body will catch up.
You’ll be back to your old self at work in no time. (Or, at least, by some time later this week.)
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