Morning. Bossed. You’ve killed that presentation, smashed out those emails, and pitched out a bomb idea. Fast forward to 2 pm, and you’d rather do anything but work. You reach the humdrum feeling of the afternoon slump. With three hours left of the workday, you’re now drudging through thick mud piles of to-dos trying not to fall asleep.
We’ve all been there.
The afternoon slump is a real Achilles heel in your workday, and it goes deeper than you just being in a bad mood.
The National Sleep Foundation says, “The circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day, so adults’ strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm…”
Makes sense. Conveniently your body gets sleepiest at night, but not so conveniently during the middle of your day.
How’re you going to avoid the dreaded afternoon slump? Well, you might not be able to avoid it entirely since there are so many factors that go into fatigue, however, there are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms.
1. Eat Breakfast
And not just any breakfast, a breakfast filled with a healthy balance of carbs, protein, fats, and fiber. You need a breakfast that will provide energy to last you throughout the day—that stand-alone bowl of cereal probably won’t cut it.
Try a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, yogurt topped with chia seeds and a side of peanut butter toast, or a protein smoothie with granola. Your healthy breakfast options are endless, and they’re well worth the extra minutes once you start reaping the benefits.
2. Snack Right
You don’t only need a good breakfast, snacking correctly is just as important. Snacks are harder in the sense that usually we want something sweet, but too much sugar can cause a crazy elevation of blood sugar followed by an intense drop.
This harsh drop can lead to an increased feeling of fatigue and irritability, worsening those slump symptoms. Instead of a vending machine candy bar, try a high protein snack such as nuts, seeds, jerky, boiled eggs, protein shake, or an apple with peanut butter. Still, satisfy those mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack cravings without that crazy blood sugar spiral.
3. Stay Hydrated
Feeling tired? You may just be dehydrated. Dehydration plays a huge role in the afternoon drop as it contributes to fatigue, irritability, and headaches.
Stay hydrated throughout the day by keeping a water bottle at your desk as a nice reminder, and try to avoid too much caffeine in the morning. It has the power to dehydrate you for the rest of the day if you’re not keeping up with your water intake. You can even set reminders on your phone to drink water every so often. It’s easy to forget!
4. Lunch Wisely
Yup, another food category. It just goes to show how much food plays a role in how you feel throughout the day.Eat a high-protein lunch so you’re not starving in the afternoon and try to keep it light.
The bigger the meal the more tired you will be as your body works hard to digest it. Also, try to avoid foods high in sodium and refined carbs—it could leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Some good lunch inspiration: chicken or tuna salad sandwich, a veggie chicken wrap, or a black bean burger.
5. Move, Move, and Move Some More
Movement is one of the best ways to combat the afternoon slump because sitting for long periods of time only makes you feel more heavy and tired. Get your blood flowing with a nice stretch or take a walk around the block on your lunch break.
It’s a great way to increase productivity while increasing your energy levels. It may even be beneficial to invest in a standing desk so you’re not sitting for seven hours a day. Bonus points if you can fit in a workout during your workday!
6. Cat Nap It Out
If you feel you can’t move on with your day without a quick little pick me up, try taking a cat nap to boost your energy. Try not to make it any longer than 20-30 minutes though, as any longer will only make you feel more tired and could inhibit you falling asleep at night.
Naps are a serious energizer if done the right way. Plus, who doesn’t love napping?
7. Drink Tea
Pinkies up! As your energy levels start to dip, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, make a cup of tea.
Tea has less caffeine than coffee, but just enough to get you through the rest of your afternoon without wrecking your sleep for the night. Go for a green tea and honey combo as it has some amazing antioxidant benefits or peppermint for a more refreshing taste.
8. Avoid Too Much Eye Strain
Most of us are looking at a screen for more than 3 hours during the day due to our phones, and if you work behind a desk staring at a computer all day, this only means more bad news. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, which can make you feel way more exhausted.
According to the American Optometric Association, we should be taking a fifteen-minute break after two consecutive hours of screen time. These days they even have a blue light filter specifically for your devices, and you could even invest in some blue light blocking glasses if you’re feeling fancy.
Your eyes will thank you.
You’re not crazy for feeling irritable and exhausted by 3 pm. It goes down to a science.
It happens to the best of us, and it’s in our best interest to lessen the effects so we don’t kill our afternoon productivity and destroy our relationships with our coworkers.
Hopefully, these tips will ultimately help you boost your creativity, productivity, and motivation to keep on truckin’ on during the downhill of the afternoon. Boss your morning AND afternoon.