We’ve all been there. You’ve been given a key role in an important business meeting and it needs to go well. There’s no doubting it’s a stressful experience, but we’re here to help you rise to the occasion.
While what you say is down to you, what we can do is provide a few pieces of advice that will help you stay at the top of your health game. If you’re looking for an edge, our smart network of doctors have the answers you need.
What you should eat the night before
Try and have your evening meal at least three hours before you go to bed, so that your food has time to digest. This will help you avoid indigestion and acid reflux, neither of which you want standing in your way tomorrow.
When you’re decided what to have, there are a few things to consider. Don’t go for anything too heavy, or risk anything that might upset your stomach. Now is not the time to get experimental with your spices, or cook anything too rich and hearty.
There are many foods that can have a positive impact on your brain, which is ideal for making sure you don’t forget your figures! Salmon is a good choice, as it’s a source of memory-boosting omega-3, while avocado contains ‘good fats’ that increase brain function.
You don’t need to skip dessert either - a handful of fresh berries and a small piece of dark chocolate will provide you with antioxidants that can keep your mind sharp.
It should go without saying that alcohol is best avoided. A hangover is the last thing you need, but even if you don’t drink enough to inflict that on yourself, alcohol has other unhelpful side effects. Crucially, it can stop you from sleeping properly and leave you feeling sluggish the next morning.
How to make sure you get a good night’s sleep
Getting some proper shut-eye is an essential part of your preparation. We all know how difficult this can be the night before an important meeting, but there are many steps you can take that are proven to help.
The first and most important thing you must do is avoid taking your work to bed. Leave your laptop in another room and switch off your smartphone. In order to sleep well, you need to wind down. Putting your brain under stress is a barrier to that.
There’s also the issue of light. The reason humans sleep at night is because darkness triggers a hormone called melatonin that helps us sleep.
Light, whether it’s artificial or from the sun, triggers serotonin, which wakes us up. It follows that shining a bright light in your face right before bed is going to make it harder for you to nod off. Do something relaxing in the hour before bed instead, such as reading, listening to music or having a warm bath.
Having the right environment for sleep is important. Studies have shown that a tidy room is easier to relax in than a messy one, while you also need to find a temperature that suits you. Ear plugs are useful for keeping out noise from outside, or a partner’s snoring.
If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about the meeting. Just get up and do something for 10-15 minutes, then try again. Perhaps you can read another chapter of your book?
Read more: Try our 43 ways to sleep better and see which ones help you the most.
What you should eat for breakfast
We would never do anything as clichéd as reminding you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is though, so we might as well make sure you get the right one.
To ensure peak performance later, you should eat something that releases energy slowly, such as porridge or white toast. Eggs are another good option, as the yolks contain concentration-boosting lecithin. Sugary cereal and nutritionally empty white bread won’t provide any value.
Staying hydrated is important, too. You shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty before having a drink, as this will mean you’re already a little dehydrated. When dehydration kicks in, your other organs usually steal water from your brain in order to continue functioning properly. Today of all days, your brain needs to be on top form.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a drink as soon as you get up. Coffee is the usual choice for many of us. While everyone’s reaction to it is slightly different, if used sparingly coffee can be a useful short-term stimulant and make you feel more alert.
However, it’s also a diuretic, so don’t drink too much or you may find yourself stuck in your meeting with an uncomfortably full bladder.
If you want to feel more alert and stay hydrated, our brilliant banana and walnut smoothie is a tasty way to wake yourself up. It’s easy to make and provides all the nutrients you need to tackle the task at hand.
How to deal with stress
Feeling stressed is normal in this situation. What will separate you from the rest is how you deal with it. Nerves might not be a problem for you. If so, congratulations and feel free to skip ahead. However, if you do sometimes find these situations hard to handle, here’s how you can tackle it.
In a work situation, the old saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ will always be relevant. Putting lots of effort into your presentation will remove the fear you’d get from being underprepared. Practice your presentation so that by the time you’re in the room, it feels like second nature.
Make notes if you need to, so you won’t worry about missing out anything important. Laughter is one of the best ways to relieve stress, so if it’s appropriate, you could use a little humour to break the tension early.
However, as tempting as it can be to spend every waking moment preparing yourself, taking a break now and then is one of the most effective ways to handle stress. To avoid burn-out, have some time away from your notes if you need to.
Do whatever you like for a while and you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to go again. Playing music while you work can also help you relax a little.
On the morning of the meeting, why not start your day with some exercise? Whether you go for a run or hit the gym, exercise is great for releasing endorphins, which will go some way towards relieving any tension.
Finally, make sure you arrive in plenty of time. After all your hard work, it’d be a shame to create unnecessary stress by running late!
Read more: Try our 42 stress management tips.
Why a healthy posture could be your key to success
You probably already know that posture says a lot about you. If you want to come across as confident and authoritative, slouching or hunched shoulders simply won’t do. Studies have shown that people associate poor posture with someone who is unhappy or lacks confidence.
Your posture is also important for your health, so there’s both a short- and long-term advantage to getting it right. A poor posture could be the reason you wake up feeling achy and run down, which is a poor way to start an important day. How you carry yourself can also impact important bodily functions such as breathing and digestion.
Read our posture guide to find out how you should be sitting and standing to achieve maximum health benefits and present yourself confidently.
What works for you?
Do you have a strategy that helps you arrive at work feeling your best? Let us know in the comments below!