○ 13 min read
How to Avoid the Afternoon Slump and Keep Your Energy Up
There you are, having the best day ever, staying on top of everything, feeling super productive, and tackling everything that comes your way! Then all of a sudden, 3 o’clock rolls around, and you can’t think about anything else except taking a nap. Where did all that motivation and productivity go? No matter how great your day goes, we are all vulnerable to the inevitable ”afternoon slump''. Maybe this happens only occasionally, or maybe it’s a daily occurrence for you, but either way, you are not alone.
Finding solutions to avoid this everyday dip in energy is something that health gurus and biohackers are always searching for. It might not be completely avoidable, but there are habits you can form that will help you keep up your energy and let you go further and longer.
What Causes Afternoon Slump?
It’s a normal part of life to feel a little drop in energy as the day goes on. Chronobiology (the study of circadian rhythms) tells us there are natural energy fluctuations in a 24-hour cycle. There is a significant but normal drop in energy levels in the afternoon between 2 pm and 5 pm.
Of course, if you were up late or didn’t sleep well, that can also contribute to a drop in energy. If you eat a heavy lunch or something sugary in the afternoon, you may feel it even more. Feeling tired in the afternoon is common, but learning a few pick-me-up practices can make all the difference in the rest of your day.
If you’ve got time in the afternoon to hit up the gym, do it! If not, get in the routine of doing a few squats, push-ups, or maybe a quick run to get your blood pumping. This will transfer fresh oxygen into your bloodstream, release feel-good hormones and jumpstart your afternoon.
Take a few minutes to stretch after lunch or at some point in the afternoon to invigorate your energy after the daily dip takes hold. You can even do a few upper body stretches right at your desk if you must stay close to your computer or can’t walk away from your workspace. If you have the opportunity, getting down on the floor to stretch your legs or doing some toe touches will help to get the blood moving in your lower body. This will assist your circulation and oxygenation of the blood, which can refresh your mind and help you stay alert.
#3 Just Move
Get up and move! Sometimes we don’t have the option, depending on our job requirements, but simply finding a change of scene can wake up your brain and help you feel more alert. Head outside if you’ve been inside all day and the weather is nice. If you have a laptop that you’re working on, move into another room (preferably with lots of natural lighting) or head to a coffee shop. Stuck at a desk or some other non-mobile occupation? Take a quick walk down the hall, step into the lunchroom for a few minutes, or chat up a coworker.
#4 Stand Up
Sitting is not the most positive posture, and over time it can take its toll. On a sleepy afternoon, it may contribute to that common feeling of sluggishness. Getting set up with a standing desk at work or in your home office is well worth it. A lot of employers are willing to incorporate this into their work environments, but you don’t even need a special desk if you can get creative to find other ways to elevate your workspace. Standing and moving around a bit can help you stay more productive and even benefit memory and cognitive function.
Eat for Energy
#1 Eat a Proper Breakfast
You’ve got to fuel the right kind of energy for it to last throughout the day, and it starts with a good breakfast. Choose something high in protein with enough calories to get you through your morning without that “empty” feeling. Getting some healthy fats, such as avocados or hemp seeds, first thing in the morning helps to feed the brain and keeps you feeling full longer than simple carbohydrates. An energy-promoting smoothie is a great way to get in some protein, healthy fats from nuts or seeds, and antioxidants from greens or berries. Eat for the kind of day you have ahead of you. If it’s going to be an active day, make sure you account for that in your breakfast choices, with possibly more calories or protein.
#2 Eat a Small Lunch
A light lunch will help to keep you alert and feeling great throughout the afternoon. Don’t get weighed down by a heavy meal that will make you feel, well, heavy. Avoid greasy or fried foods, and keep your portions on the smaller side. This way, less energy will be directed toward digestion and you can retain a more energetic mood far later in the day. Avoid the daily post-lunch drowsiness by making sure you’ve got a balanced meal that will keep your blood sugar steady and your belly happy. Not eating enough can lead to difficulty concentrating or reduced productivity, so finding a happy balance is important.
#3 Have a Snack
Make sure you aren’t feeling tired from a lack of calories by keeping some healthy snacks on hand. Especially if you’re eating a lighter lunch, a satisfying snack in the afternoon can help to fortify your energy and keep you going all day. Avoid sugary snacks, as they can make you feel a quick burst of energy but then lead to a sugar crash. Instead, choose something high in protein with complex carbs and some healthy fats. Protein shakes, protein bars, a mixture of dried fruits and nuts, or good old-fashioned “ants on a log” are great ideas. Just watch out for protein products that sneak in a bunch of sugar.
#4 Stay Hydrated
A lot of times when people feel tired, what they really need is to get hydrated! Rehydrate after eating, after your morning coffee, and before, during, and after working out. Make sure to drink water throughout the day, and also make sure you are getting electrolytes. You need anywhere from 9-13 cups of total fluids each day (this includes fluids from fruits and veggies), so you may want to set hydration reminders throughout the day. Especially when you hit the afternoon, ensure you keep hydrated by replenishing your electrolytes with something you will look forward to drinking. You can Get Hy(drated) without all of the sugar found in most sports drinks with Ee’s Hydration. It comes in three amazing flavors that will keep you coming back for more.
#5 Chew Gum
This is a simple trick that can really work! Peppermint or cinnamon gives your brain a little kick to wake up. Choose something sugar-free to keep your blood sugar steady and something with xylitol to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Chewing gum gives your brain a wake-up signal, and although it is only short term, it’ll help promote mental alertness while helping to focus attention on specific tasks.
#6 Take Your Vitamins
Make sure you are getting enough of the essential nutrients your body needs to generate energy. If you don’t have the basic building blocks your cells need, staying feeling good or finding sustained energy will be hard. Vitamins and minerals that help retain energy levels include; b-vitamins (especially b12), coQ10, vitamin D3, zinc, and magnesium. For herbal energy support, try Rhodiola, maca root, and ashwagandha. Some people also find it very helpful to ensure they get naturally occurring nitrates (such as the ones found in beetroots) to maintain their energy levels, especially with an active lifestyle.
#1 Get a Good Night’s Sleep
This is a biggie. If you aren’t sleeping well, then there will certainly be a time of day when you really start feeling it. Many people just don’t get enough sleep day in and day out, and eventually, that’ll take its toll sometimes with mid-day tiredness as a result.
Start with a good bedtime routine. Shut down screens and artificial light at an early hour, do some light stretching, and maybe even have a cup of relaxing tea or try meditation. Also, make sure you aren’t drinking caffeine too late in the day so that it doesn’t disturb your sleep.
#2 Take a Nap
A quick nap can certainly give your system the break it needs, and you can bounce back feeling refreshed and ready for more. Don’t sleep too long, as that could be counterproductive, resulting in lingering tiredness or making it difficult to get to sleep at night. Nap for a limited time. 20-30 minutes is enough to give your nervous system some shutdown time to recharge and let yourself surrender to the natural afternoon dip in your circadian rhythm. If possible, omit as much light in the area you are napping in and set the alarm, so you don’t oversleep. Listen to soothing music or white noise if you aren’t able to find a quiet place for a nap.
#3 Rest Your Eyes
If you aren’t a napper, don’t have the time or space, or just can’t shut your mind off during the day, take an eye break. Letting your eyes close for 10-15 minutes has great effects and can help rest your brain somewhat as well. Don’t feel silly if you need to use an eye pillow, as they aren’t just for pampering! The slight pressure helps to soothe the eyes and makes it easier to keep them closed without interruption. The daily strain on your eyes can make us feel even more tired, and letting your eyes rest is a great way to soothe any tension and help us better focus on what needs to be done.
Reset and Recharge
#1 Take a Break
Whether it’s a mental or physical break, taking 5-10 minutes to rest can change the direction of your afternoon and enhance your energy. Especially if you have a demanding schedule, prioritizing breaks is essential for keeping your mind clear and productive. Take a quick walk, go sit outside for a few, or even lay on the floor and let your head and body completely relax.
#2 Switch Tasks
Monotony is an energy killer. Switch up whatever task or project you are working on to refocus your mind onto something that will give a little variety to your day. Rather than try to multitask, set your focus on one thing at a time, giving it your full attention. Change up your routine in the afternoons to something you look forward to doing.
#3 Listen to Some Music
Music can pump you up or calm you down. Choose something that will uplift you without making you antsy or irritable. Put on some headphones if necessary, and listen to a great jam that doesn’t draw too much attention away from the tasks you are trying to accomplish. If you need to maintain your focus, listen to music without lyrics. There are all kinds of work-friendly playlists and even specially designed background music to promote focus and productivity.
The Essential Element
The impending afternoon slump doesn’t have to be something you dread. Learn to work around it and give in to certain things your body wants at that time of day. If your afternoon is plodding along and your productivity has gone out the window, you can always Get Hy to shake things up! Staying Hy(drated) is just one way to combat common afternoon weariness that can suck your energy levels dry. Other Essential elements® options are here to keep you focused and energized throughout the day, and we have designed them so that you can keep up with any day-to-day obligations and still have energy for the more exciting parts of life.