Time Check: It’s 2 PM.
You came back from a fully-loaded lunch an hour ago but you still have not yet resumed the tasks you left. The clock is ticking and you need to finish it ASAP. The problem is, you can’t find the motivation to do so.
Your brain can’t function well. Your energy level is falling off the cliff and the only thing you want to do is head to the receiving area couch and fall asleep.
That, my friend, is what we call the “afternoon slump.”
And yes, we’ve all been there.
We all have our own ways to beat this monster. But if you still can’t get the hang of it, here are some of the best solutions to our everyday “I don’t feel like doing anything” dilemma.
1. Work with your body’s natural rhythms
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the urge to snooze naturally comes at certain times of the day. It’s generally strongest between 2 and 4 a.m., which is convenient for humans with day jobs, and between 1 and 3 p.m., which isn’t.
That said, it’s recommended to schedule work activities around your natural highs and lows.
Tackle your most cognitively challenging tasks during your “peak hours” and save the not-so-demanding tasks for the times when your focus and alertness are at their lowest.
2. Opt for a light yet energizing lunch
Avoid loading up on slump-inducing carbs and sugary treats and beverages. They may cause a sudden spike in the blood sugar that instantly wakes you up for a while but shortly gives you a crash, leaving you more exhausted and hungrier than ever.
Instead, build your lunch around high-quality protein, combined with fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, veggies, and some unsaturated fats to keep you energized and feeling full longer.
3. Don’t use your lunch break solely for lunch
Divide your break between eating and taking a walk. You may sneak into a local supermarket after lunch, head to the nearest park, or just take the long route back to your office for a few minutes of exercise.
4. Drink water
Dehydration is another strong culprit for your afternoon crash. Water is needed for your body, including your brain, to function well. Always secure a big bottle of water on your desk and refill it from time to time.
5. Stand up and move as often
Running out of creative juices?
Maybe you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours, staring at the computer screen. Get the blood flowing.
Escape to the restroom for some jumping jacks. Do wall pushups. Keep a stash of hand weights in your desk. If leaving your seat hinders your productivity, you may simply stretch from time to time on your desk.
Roll your shoulders forward, then backward. Time each roll with a deep breath in and out. Do this for two minutes.
6. Take a walk
If you’re not comfortable doing quick exercises, simply stand up and take a walk. Walk back and forth down the hall. Climb up and down the stairs. Go outside and take a stroll. Take deep breaths while roaming around to block.
The blood circulation created by movement, whether you’re doing exercises or simply walking at a slow pace, helps you focus. It also helps reduce pain in the lower back, neck, and wrist, eye strain, and lack of mobility, which are all brought by our risky desk jobs.
7. Enjoy tea or coffee time
Are you a coffee person or more like a tea person? It doesn’t matter – a routine of a mid-afternoon cup can help you beat the doldrums.
Next, to the caffeine burst that perk you up, the work-free time for walking to the pantry, brewing, steeping, and drinking helps refresh your body and mind and give your eyes a break from the screen.
8. Eat snacks
Feeling drowsy and unable to focus? Maybe you’re hungry. Grab a snack but never succumb to unhealthy stress-eating.
If you’re craving sweets, go for dark chocolates. They contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and a little caffeine, which gives you a quick pick-me-up. Nuts, like cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are light energy boosters too.
9. Breathe a “breath of fresh air”
The aura inside your workplace can feel sickening and be suffocating for some reason. You need fresh air and sunshine in your daily grind.
Escape by running to the nearest balcony or roof deck. If you can, open the window. Go outside and take a stroll. Reinvigorate your senses with new, pleasing sights, sounds, and scents – things you don’t experience when seated on your desk.
10. Do something different
Change it up! If you’ve been doing the same cognitively challenging and time-consuming project that gets on your nerves all day, switch to another task for a while. This allows you to take a break while remaining productive.
11. Doze off for a while
Struggling to keep your eyes open? Nothing beats power nap. A short nap of 20 minutes or less can reduce drowsiness and improve cognitive abilities. Just make sure to stick to the ideal nap length, for longer naps can backfire and cause sleep inertia or grogginess after awakening.
12. Sniff peppermint
Peppermint is recognized as an energy-enhancing scent. Put a drop of peppermint oil on your hand, and briskly rub your hands together. Rub them over your face too, and see how it works.
13. Chew spicy, minty gums
Gums with strong minty flavors are stimulating, and the mere act of chewing is a boost to a brain surrendering to lethargy. Just make sure the gum is sugar-free and you don’t have acid reflux.
14. Make a quick phone call to your loved ones
It may sound cheesy but it helps. Maybe you just need something to make you feel human again – like hearing the voice of your spouse, child, mom, dad, siblings, or friend. A five-minute social interaction in the middle of a tedious workday helps lift your spirit up and reinvigorate you to get the work done.
15. Set a goal and reward yourself
If you have three hours left at work, slap yourself with a challenge. Set a realistic goal of completing a particular task by the end of the day. Beat the clock and do as much. Once you finish these tasks, give yourself a treat.