18 Tricks to Beat the Afternoon Slump at Work
When your energy is drained, these tricks will help you recharged and be productive through the end of the day.
Head outside and sit in the daylight for ten minutes
Better still, have your lunch outside and divide your break between eating and a walk. It will help reset your chronological clock, keep down the amount of melatonin (the sleep hormone) your body produces during this circadian dip and give you a valuable boost of beneficial vitamin D, reducing your risk of osteoporosis as well as various cancers. Here’s how healthy, happy people spend their lunch breaks.
Choose energizing protein, not energy-sapping carbs
For lunch, a tuna salad without the bread is a better choice than a tuna sandwich. A green salad sprinkled with low-fat cheese, a hardboiled egg, and some sliced turkey wins over a pasta salad. The change can really make a difference when it comes to not craving a nap come 3 p.m.
Get into the routine of a mid-afternoon cup. It’s a good step toward beating the afternoon doldrums thanks to that little bit of a caffeine burst and the few quiet minutes the brewing and steeping entails. Keep a selection of exotic flavored teas (preferably caffeinated) in your office and an aesthetically pleasing cup and saucer just for tea. Here are some other amazing energy boosters you need in your life, too.
Clean your desk and clear out your email inbox
Both are relatively mindless tasks that don’t require great amounts of concentration or clear thinking, and both will leave you feeling more energized because you’ll have accomplished something visible as well as having reduced energy-sapping clutter.
Make an “I was thinking of you” phone call
To your wife, child, siblings, parents, a friend, or a retired colleague. A five-minute keep-in-touch call will lift your spirits for hours and reinvigorate you to get your work done.
Put a drop of peppermint oil in your hand
Briskly rub your hands together, then rub them over your face (avoid your eyes). Peppermint is a known energy-enhancing scent. Here are some more simple tips that’ll boost your energy if you’re feeling tired all the time.
Roll your shoulders forward, then backward, timing each roll with a deep breath in and out. Repeat for two minutes.
Consider a morsel of dark chocolate
This is not a license to overindulge, but dark chocolate does have some unique advantages. Unlike milk chocolate, it is truly a healthy food, closer to the category of nuts than sweets, given the high levels of healthy fat and antioxidants it contains. Plus, it has abundant fiber and magnesium. Additionally, it provides a little caffeine, as well as a satisfyingly decadent feeling. But don’t eat more than one square. Here are some more high-energy foods that’ll give you a quick pick-me-up.
Chew some “spicy” gum
Chewing gums with strong minty flavors are stimulating, and the mere act of chewing is something of a tonic to a brain succumbing to lethargy. Plus, chewing stimulates saliva, which helps to clear out bacteria responsible for cavities and gum disease from lunch. Just be sure to choose sugar-free gum.
Plan group activities for midday
If you often work on your own, try to organize work involving others at the time of day when your concentration might otherwise be waning. We are social animals, and interactions always rev us up. But make sure it’s an interesting, interactive activity. Sitting in a room listening to someone else drone on and on will just send you snoozing. Here are the best things to do in the morning to ensure that your entire work day is productive and stress-free.
Take ten minutes for isometric exercises
Isometric exercises involve nothing more than tensing a muscle and holding it. For instance, with your arm held out, tense your biceps and triceps at the same time and hold for five to ten seconds. You can do this with your calf muscles, thigh muscles (front and back), chest, abdomen, buttocks, shoulders, and back. Here are some more simple workouts you can do right at your desk.
Keep a rosemary plant in your office
Not only will sharing your space with a live, growing thing provide its own mood boost, but studies find the scent of rosemary to be energizing. Whenever you need a boost, just rub a sprig between your fingers to release the fragrance into the air. Or, if you’re really wiped out, rub a sprig on your hands, face, and neck. Don’t miss these other ways to set your cubicle up for productivity.
Have an afternoon snack designed to get the blood flowing
That doesn’t mean a whole milk chocolate bar. The high glycemic index in the chocolate bar (a measure of how high it pushes up your blood sugar) might give you a temporary boost, but once that jolt of sugar is gone, you’ll sink faster than the stock market after an interest-rate hike. Instead, you want a snack that combines protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates (such as whole-grain crackers or raw vegetables) to raise your blood sugar levels steadily and keep them up.
Do the work you care about most
Because your energy will be high when you first get to work, start the day with the task you’re dreading most. You’ll be able to breeze through it in the morning, leaving your favorite projects for later in the day. Then when that afternoon slump hits, your enthusiasm for the work you love the most will help you recover from that dip in energy. These tricks will help you be more productive in the morning.
Do your filing
Sometimes getting up is the best way to fix a literal slump when you’ve been hunched over your desk all day. Escape from your desk and get bending and stretching while you take care of some filing. Let yourself get fully engrossed in the task, falling into the flow of the work. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel totally refreshed.
Add some variety to your routine
Research suggests that concentration declines after about an hour, and it only gets worse from there. Without a bit of variety, the tedium of a task will be mind-numbing by the time you’re 90 minutes in, and you’ll lose your productivity. When you feel your focus fading on a big project, switch to another task for 30 minutes, then get back to what you were doing. Here are more almost effortless ways to be more productive.
Get up as often as you can
Studies have shown that even short bursts of activity can keep you alert and boost your fitness. Instead of emailing or calling colleagues, stop by their desks to ask a question face to face.
Have a private dance party
Find a private space to jam out to one of your favorite high-energy songs. Close your door if you have an office or put in your headphones and head to an empty conference room or the bathroom. You’ll get back to your desk feeling pumped. Next, check out these 36 other ways to instantly make your work day less stressful.