How many times have you promised yourself–“tomorrow I will be more productive at work”?
Then afternoon comes and all you want to do it to curl up somewhere in the corner and go to sleep.
You start yawning, sudden fatigue hits, and all you dream of is a big bar of chocolate or a piece of cake. And if you don’t get it, you become moody, irritated, and more tired.
I have been there myself. Actually, I might still experience an odd day like that, but I know what to do to feel better! Let me share with you a few tips on how to banish the energy slump in the afternoon and make your day more productive!
Start planning ahead!
How to Beat the Afternoon Slump
It turns out that out our body has a master clock, located in the brain, that controls all the necessary functions such as hunger, body temperature, alertness and sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, our sleep urge is the strongest between 2 and 4 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. (!)
This might slightly vary depending on whether you are an “early bird” or a “night owl” (find out here).
Obviously 1-3 p.m. is not an ideal time for nap when you are in the middle of your busy working day. Unless you live in one of the Mediterranean countries (like Spain or Italy,) and you can enjoy the afternoon siesta! 🙂
Otherwise – make sure you have a good night sleep. The Sleep Council recommends 7-9 hours for adults over 18 years old. This will help you to concentrate better and make wiser food choices the next day.
2. Get a nutritious lunch!
Blood sugar fluctuations can cause sudden energy drop in the afternoon. This happens if your diet is full of simple sugars which put extra load on your pancreas. You might be satisfied and energized right after eating a cookie or a doughnut but soon you start feeling sleepy and lethargic. This is because quick carbohydrates spike the insulin levels, that needs to work extra hard to quickly remove that sugar from your blood. That happens fast (unless you already have health problems–e.g. diabetes) and your blood sugar drops dramatically leaving you tired, moody and hungry for more.
My main advice – stay away from all sugary snacks and nibbles!
Focus on your lunch–make sure it consists of some of the following:
– protein (pulses, beans, nuts and seeds)
– leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard, collards)
– whole grains (quinoa, millet, sorghum)
– beneficial fats (avocado, chia and linseeds, olive oil)
This will provide slow and constant energy release and discourage you from eating unhealthy treats.
3. Stay hydrated.
Humans are made of water. It is needed for all essential processes that take place in the body.
When your body is dehydrated, your energy drops and you might find it difficult to concentrate.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 11.5 cups of daily fluid for women and 15.5 cups for men. This includes water, herbal teas, juices, other beverages and water you get from food.
The general advice of getting 8 glasses of water seems reasonable, but remember that if you are in a hot climate, exercising or pregnant, you might need more.
Get yourself a nice reusable water bottle (glass or stained steel) and keep refilling it through the course of the day. I like to add some berries, mint, lemon or cucumber slices for extra flavor.
4. Go for a walk.
Exercise improves circulation–including in the brain!
Try to go out during your lunch break and make sure you do some form of exercise every day. Aerobic exercise is particularly good for getting that blood pumping to encourage healthy nutrient delivery to each cell of your body.
Robert Gotlin, a specialist in sports medicine, states that regular exercise helps your heart health, improves sleep (see tip number 1!) and improves cognitive function (memory and concentration).
Even if your lunch breaks is relatively short (e.g. half an hour) you can do a brisk walk around the block (5 min brisk pace and 2 min slower). I often go out for 15 min and the use remaining 15 min to eat my lunch. I also make sure I do regular stretches during my time at work.
5. Use essential oils.
I love essential oils! I have quite a big collection of them. Essential oils are the natural chemicals that give plants an essence.
Depending on the type of oil you’re using, they can help you feel more energized, refreshed and happy.
My favorite essential oils for energy lift are:
– rosemary oil (it is also great for mental exhaustion and pre-exam stress!)
– thyme oil (hits oil is also great when you feel run down as it boosts the immune system)
– citrus essential oils (the smell of them instantly lifts my mood as they remind me of summer in a warm Mediterranean country)
You can apply a mixture of 3-4 drops of your chosen oil to the skin, after diluting it in a carrier oil (never put undiluted essential oils on your skin!) or take a strong whiff straight from the bottle.
If you lucky enough and can have a diffuser at your workplace, use it for at least 30 minutes for the best results.
How do you beat the afternoon slump?
Get more like this—Subscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Pexels, Lauren Kirchmaier, Vitruvi