The Afternoon Slump. It’s so common that some cultures build it right into their day, shutting everything down for a brief post-lunch hiatus. Unfortunately, not all of us live in a country where siesta-taking is smiled upon. Here are some tips for beating that midday slump – and some for stopping it before it starts.
If you’re feeling like you’re barely sputtering along by the middle of the day, it may be time to check what you’re filling your gas tank with, starting with the very first meal of the day. A good breakfast can pack the power to keep you going stronger, so, if you’ve been skimping on your morning meal, it’s time to rethink. Go for a substantial combination featuring complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. The carbs give you a boost of energy to get your engines going, while the protein provides steady fuel to carry you for hours. For an energy-sustaining start, try whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, a bowl of oatmeal with a healthy sprinkle of almonds, or toast with scrambled eggs or tofu.
What, and how much, you eat for lunch also matters – eat too much and your body will be too busy digesting to focus, but eat too little and your energy levels will drop in a hurry. The same rules apply as breakfast – combine energy-boosting carbs with long-lasting protein for success. It’s a simple as topping your salad with a handful of chickpeas or pairing it with a bowl of lentil soup. Some of the most classic brown bag lunches were built on this model – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple is a standard for a reason.
Finally, keep your blood-sugar levels even throughout the day to avoid spike and crash patterns. Small healthy carb-and-protein combo snacks are the key here – celery and peanut butter, almonds and dried fruit, and carrots and hummus are all good examples.
Dehydration is a major culprit when it comes to fatigue. When the slump hits, reach for a glass of water before you pour that cup of coffee- it’ll perk you up in a flash. Even better, keep a water bottle handy and sip throughout the day to avoid encountering dehydration tiredness in the first place. If the idea of water makes you yawn, try sipping carbonated water, zesting up regular H2O with slices of citrus or cucumber, or brewing up some decaffeinated ice tea.
If you find yourself really in need of a caffeine fix, skip the coffee and try some green tea instead. With less caffeine than coffee, green tea will give you a pick-me-up with out disturbing your sleep cycle later.
Hit the Reset Button!
Jumpstart your brain by taking some time to shake things up. One of the best ways to do this is to get moving – when the blood gets flowing the energetic juices tend to come right along with. Whether it’s a little office yoga, a quick walk around the block, or putting in your headphones for a five-minute dance party, a little exercise goes a long way for boosting your focus.
Resetting your space can help reset your mind as well. Take some time in the afternoon to unclutter and reorganize your workspace. A more focused, organized space often leads to a more focused, organized mind. Plus, setting yourself up efficiently will leave you motivated to power through more work. If you can, a little change of scene also works wonders – take your work to a coffee shop or other new location and watch the creative juices flow.
Shifting your focus to a new task for a few minutes can also help. Try working on a puzzle – like a Sudoku or a crossword puzzle (old-fashioned paper versions are best) – to reset and refocus your mind. Then carry all that focus back with you to the task at hand. It works a bit like a knife sharpener for your mind – cutting through the slump and returning you fresher and sharper than before.