After breezing through your morning tasks and taking your lunch break, you begin to have trouble focusing and want to curl up in your cubicle at 2 p.m. Sound familiar? Our circadian rhythms peak at night and in the afternoon, bringing about a mid-afternoon slump. Add to that: bad food choices, dehydration, and staring at a computer screen for hours, and you may find it nearly impossible to keep your eyes open. Fight back against afternoon fatigue and keep your energy levels high with these eight tips.
- Eat smart: A healthy breakfast combining carbs and protein will fuel you through your morning. Be sure your lunch has some protein, is not too large, and isn’t high in fat. With moderation and balance in mind, snacks are a great way to keep your energy levels consistent. Bring some snacks from home to help you resist the pull of the vending machine. Good options include fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole-wheat crackers, cheese, and yogurt.
- Take a walk: If you know you always have a slump around 2 p.m., plan a quick walk around the building or parking lot for that time every day. If you’re unable to get outside, expose yourself to a bright white light for 20 minutes to increase alertness and boost your brain responses.
- Chat with a coworker: Before you press send on that email to your coworker down the hall, reconsider. Is it something you could discuss in person? Stretch your legs and take a break from your computer screen for a few minutes to chat about the email topic face to face.
- Stretch: Stretches get the blood flowing and can give you a quick boost of energy. Head to an empty conference room or stairwell to stretch out all those tight muscles, or simply do a few stretches at your desk.
- Drink coffee: Grab a cup of coffee in the early afternoon for a quick pick-me-up, but don’t drink it after 3 p.m. as it will affect your ability to fall asleep at bedtime. Be sure to stay hydrated with water the rest of the day.
- Get a full eight hours of sleep: The best way to combat feeling tired in the afternoon is making sure you have enough sleep the night before. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Getting even an hour less of sleep can result in slower mental functioning the next day.
- Use your lunch effectively: Don’t work through lunch! Use your lunch break to eat, sleep, and/or work out. Take a break from your desk and get a change of scenery. Grabbing lunch, taking a quick nap, or squeezing in some exercise will re-energize you and allow your brain to refocus.
- Rest your eyes: A quick catnap can help combat the mid-afternoon energy crash, but not too long. Don’t doze for more than 20 minutes or you will wake up feeling worse than before your nap.
Fight the mid-afternoon slump with a few quick energy boosts and finish your day as strong as you started. Don’t struggle through tiredness and lack of concentration! When that wave of post-lunchtime laziness begins to wash over you, tackle it head-on with a few of these tips.