Ever get that feeling at work when lunch seems like a lifetime ago and as the clock ticks round to 3.30pm you’re struggling to complete even the most basic tasks? Well, it’s a part of many people’s life, this afternoon slump. It is thought that feeling sleepy around two or three o’clock is just part of our natural, circadian rhythms – that’s the physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow our daily cycles. Yet there are ways to overcome this slump. So sit up, stop yawning, and take note of these tips.
Your mid-afternoon slump could be down to what you got up to that morning. If you don’t make time for breakfast, you’re more likely to feel sleepy during the latter stages of your working day. Make sure you eat a breakfast full of protein and wholegrains, such as scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast, porridge with almonds and apple, or a fresh fruit smoothie. If you don’t have much time in the morning or don’t feel like eating first thing, you could always have a breakfast on the move, such as a wholegrain bagel filled with reduced fat cream cheese and salmon, or make a little pot of fruit, natural yoghurt, honey and almonds.
Cut down your carb intake
Carbs and fat can fuel afternoon slumps. If you love fries or sandwiches as big as houses, your energy levels will plummet come mid-afternoon. However, you don’t need to cut out carbohydrates and fat altogether. Instead, simply reduce your portions, eating no more than a fist-sized helping of your favourite carb and limiting that fat intake. Fat takes a long time to digest and leaves you feeling over-full and consequently rather sluggish. Maybe eat a salad with egg, turkey or chickpeas. Other good, slump-fighting lunches include whole-wheat pasta or rice, served with salad and a tomato and olive oil sauce or chicken soup for chillier days.
Take a break
Your boss may not agree, but you need to take a break. Studies have found that taking regular breaks leads to increased productivity at work, and taking between five and 15 minutes can really help combat your afternoon slump. Try to get up and walk around at least once every hour throughout the day. Then, during your break, do a few stretches and take a few deep breaths to invigorate and refresh your mind and your body. When you return to your desk, you should feel much more alert and can wave goodbye to that slump.
Grab a drink
When you’ve got a lot on, it can be easy to forget to drink, but your afternoon slump might be caused by a lack of water. Dehydration can make you feel tired, so when you next feel the yawns and the fuzzy thinking associated with an afternoon slump creeping in, grab yourself a glass and get yourself some cold, fresh water. If you don’t really like the taste of water, maybe add some lemon juice. This makes a really zingy, refreshing drink that will wake you instantly. Alternatively, soak pineapple chunks in a jug of water at lunch, then when your slump hits, pour yourself a glass of pineapple-infused drink.
Use your head
When an afternoon slump strikes, the last thing you want to do is engage your brain. But a fun, quick task gives those brain cells a blast. Crosswords, lateral thinking puzzles or even a quick puzzle game on your phone can help you beat the slump. Playing a game with others is best, but if you’re at work just quietly take five minutes to do one of these tasks. Engaging your brain this way will rouse your concentration levels and reefocus you.