The Afternoon Slump: How to Revive Your Energy and Focus

The “Afternoon Slump”

You have most likely heard of the “afternoon slump” and chances are, you often experience it. As cited by Psychology Today, the National Sleep Foundation states that the natural urge to sleep is generally strongest between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., and then between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Obviously, one of those is not very convenient, which is how we end up with the afternoon slump.

The first tip for helping you stay productive despite the afternoon slump, is to plan your day around your productivity levels.Many people experience a peak in alertness in the morning, typically between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. That’s is the best time to tackle the most cognitively demanding and detail-oriented tasks.

Tips for Your Morning Routine

The best way to prevent the afternoon slump, is to start your mornings off right with these tips!

  • Hydrate: You should aim to drink 64 ounces of water each day, or more if you exercise and/or live in a hot climate. This will help fight fatigue and keep your energy levels up. The best way to stay hydrated all day is to drink 8 ounces of water right when you wake up, and then track your water intake throughout the day.
  • Eat a Nutritious Breakfast: One of the best ways to prevent a low energy afternoon, is to eat a wholesome breakfast that will help you power through the day. Something that is high in protein and fiber and low in added sugar, such as oatmeal. Oatmeal is packed with 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving, and it provides a nutritious amount of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc. For an even healthier and energizing start, try adding cinnamon, walnuts and dates!
  • Snack Smart: Jess Cording, a registered dietitian and health coach, explains that long work days force many of us to go too long without eating. Consider having a mid morning snack to fuel your brain and energy levels until lunch. Click here for the energizing afternoon snacks Cording recommends!

Tips for Your Afternoon Routine

As lunchtime rolls around, try following these afternoon routines to help fight off those tired and sluggish feelings!

  • Eat a Healthy Lunch: Many of us get stuck in the fast paced grind of the work day and make quick, unhealthy lunch choices. However, it is extremely beneficial to take a mental break and eat a nutritious meal that includes high-quality protein, fiber, whole grains, fruits/vegetables and healthy fats. Studies show lunches with these components improve memory, brain function and productivity throughout the day. To really fight off the afternoon slump, avoid refined carbs and sugars.
  • Get Up and Move! We repeat this frequently because it is a great reminder! Use WELCOA’s “Sit for 60, Move for 3” rule throughout the whole day. Movement gives your mind a break and gets your blood flowing, which increases focus and attention, as well as improves cognitive functioning
  • Smart Snacking: You may think you shouldn’t have an afternoon snack, especially if you had a morning snack. However, a nutritious afternoon snack may be just what you need to boost your energy levels and your metabolism. Cording says it is important to note that “Snacking isn’t a sign of failure or lack of willpower, it can actually be a smart strategy.”

Tips for Your Evening Routine

Your goal of being your most efficient and energized self shouldn’t be put on the back burner once you get home from work. There are plenty of evening activities that can help set you up for success tomorrow:

  • Be Mindful about Dinner: Incorporate lean protein, dark leafy greens, whole grains and other nutrient-dense foods into your dinner menu to replenish your body’s energy stores. Also, plan your evening so you are finishing dinner 2-3 hours before you go to bed.
  • Avoid the Evening Slump: While it may seem the most relaxing to sit back and watch your favorite show until bedtime, your mind would greatly benefit from time away from screens. Try reading, drawing, coloring, journaling, listening to relaxing music, meditating, going for a walk, etc. instead!
  • Workout or Plan Your Next Workout: Fitting a workout into your day is a fantastic solution to boosting your creativity and productivity, as well as improving your overall health. Whether you workout in the morning, on your lunch break, or after work, having a plan for when you will workout influences your entire day in a positive way.

For more information, visit Psychology Today or the Mayo Clinic. Also, be sure to visit Virgin Pulse and download their ‘Wellbeing Activities to Keep You Energized Throughout the Day” Tip Sheet.

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