Survive the midday slump (without coffee or sugar)
Do you find yourself yawning, rubbing your eyes, and desperately wishing for a nap every afternoon? If so, you’re not alone! These natural energy drops throughout the day are caused by our internal circadian biological clocks. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult feels the urge to sleep most between the hours of 2-4 am, followed closely by 1-3 pm. Our instinct is to reach for another cup of caffeine or something sweet to get that midday pick-me-up. Unfortunately, both coffee and sugar are quick-fix solutions that don’t provide the sustaining energy you need to finish strong. Both take a heavy toll on your body and result in a crash worse than before.
Next time you feel those first signs of fatigue and mental fog, don’t run out for a frappuccino. Instead, here are five healthy and effective ways to survive the afternoon workday slump.
1. Don’t skip breaks
If you are a highly-driven person, it can be tempting to just power through the slump. While it seems counterintuitive, working through lunches and breaks actually results in decreased productivity overall. Listen to your body’s signals and step away from your desk when you need it. Make sure you are looking away from your computer screen at least every 20 minutes, and take a 5-minute break to stand and move each hour. Avoid using your lunch periods to run errands or catch up on social media. Instead, be intentional about using this time to eat an energizing lunch, stretch, and recharge.
2. Get some sunshine
Get outside and soak up some sun. Doing this will help suppress melatonin production and reset your biological clock. As a side benefit, the regular exposure to vitamin D will help you fight illnesses that might make you miss work completely. If the weather is nice, have your lunch or breaks outside. If you need to meet with a coworker in the afternoon, see if they are up for a “walk and talk.” Sometimes the best inspiration happens while you are moving.
3. Change your environment
If you are able to do your job from another part of the office, or a quiet coffee shop, great! If this is a logistical challenge, there are many things you can do to liven up your environment and help you feel more alert. Open a window, put on some light background music, or diffuse some energizing essential oils. Rosemary, peppermint, and citrus oils all work well. Be careful not to overstimulate your senses or you’ll feel more distracted than alert.
4. Pick protein over carbs
A midday snack can provide a great energy boost as long as you make a good choice. Your best bet is to stick with high proteins or good, healthy fats. Skip refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, which may provide a short burst of energy but won’t sustain you.
Here are some healthy, energizing snacks that are easy to bring to work:
- veggies and hummus
- Greek yogurt with a handful of berries
- homemade trail mix
- sliced avocado with a squeeze of lemon
- No-Bake Energy Bites
- apples and nut butter
- hard boiled eggs with a dash of pepper or herbs
5. Save more physical tasks for the afternoon
For most people, the brain is more focused before noon. If you find yourself feeling scatterbrained during the second half of the day, try arranging your schedule to maximize productivity. Put your high-concentration tasks earlier in the day when your mind is sharp. Save more menial tasks for those moments when you need a quick mental break. If you schedule regular team-building meetings with your staff, the afternoon is also a great time to make these happen.