We’re all familiar with the afternoon slump – office workers, in particular. Three o’clock hits (maybe 2:00 for some unlucky souls) and you’re nearly catatonic. No motivation. No energy. No work being done.
Most people have two solutions to this slump: play on Facebook ‘til you can go home, or down a strong cuppa joe.
The problem with these two solutions? The former will get you fired (eventually), while the latter will leave you too alert later on to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. And thus the cycle of poor sleep, over-caffeinating, and mitigating sporadic energy levels perpetuates.
Of course, there are better ways to get past that afternoon slump. I spoke with some non-Facebooking, no-coffee-drinking coworkers to get a sense of how they either prevent or move past the afternoon slump. Here are the best tips I heard:
Wean yourself off your morning coffee.
Notice I didn’t say your morning caffeine. There are actually items on the market that have more caffeine than coffee, but contain ingredients that don’t give you that bad afternoon crash. Zest Tea is one of those products – rocking 155mg of caffeine a cup and no afternoon crash versus coffee’s 100-150mg of caffeine a cup and a very likely afternoon crash. It’ll give you a gradual climb in energy, and a gradual downfall as well – as opposed to a jolt of energy in the morning and a bitter descent into exhaustion come mid-afternoon.
In other words, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Get in the habit of doing a morning workout.
If you typically work out at night, switching over to a morning workout will give you a nice boost of energy to start your day that carries over into the afternoon. If you don’t work out at all, then your body will certainly thank you for the boost of energy and endorphins they’re not used to getting.
If possible, use the standing function of your desk.
Along those same lines, if you work for a company that provides standing desks (they’re becoming more and more common these days), use that stand function more than the sit function. It helps keep blood flow going, and doesn’t allow you to sink into a slump of sleep quite so easily.
Eat lighter lunches.
It’s not a coincidence the afternoon slump happens after noon. You know… after lunch. If you’re in the habit of eating big, hearty meals at lunch, you might find it helpful to lighten up your midday diet a bit. While it seems counterintuitive – food gives you energy, so more should keep you alert – it doesn’t quite work that way. You’ll likely feel bogged down instead of feeling energetic. Opt for lots of vegetables and lean proteins over starches and heavy meat dishes.
Indulge in an afternoon snack with high natural sugar content.
If you’re feeling peckish after that light lunch or you’re still falling victim to that afternoon slump, keep a healthy snack with natural sugar content at your desk to perk yourself up a bit. Dried or fresh fruits are great options that are cost-friendly and offer plenty of variety so you don’t get bored.