afternoon health mistakes

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2. The mistake: You've been in the same room since your lunch break.

As if your afternoon slump weren't bad enough, here's what worsens it: Carbon dioxide (CO2), an odorless gas that you—and everyone around you—exhales about 15 times a minute. After two and a half hours of breathing CO2 levels at 1,000 ppm (the average in a packed office space or airplane cabin), volunteers felt unfocused, tired and made poorer choices on a decision–making task, found a study at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab by State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University researchers. Worse, at 2,500 ppm—a level commonly found in classrooms, meeting rooms and other places where you're so sardined that you smell the person next to you—performance dropped to dysfunctional levels.

The solution: Breathe fresh air by cracking the window (if you can) or taking a short walk. If you have a suspicion that your space is poorly ventilated, an air-quality meter can confirm (available online for about $150). Plants help to absorb CO2 (Sansevieria trifasciata, the snake plant, is especially effective) and to produce oxygen. (Bonus: They also make you more productive.)