Snap out of it! Six Tips for Avoiding the Afternoon Energy Slump

By Ali Luke

October 6, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Do you find yourself zipping through your workload in the mornings, feeling energized and motivated … only to crash after lunch?

Most of us are probably familiar with the mid-afternoon energy slump. Whether you feel sleepy, exhausted or just lethargic, these are six ways to keep up your energy levels throughout the afternoon.

  1. Go Light on Lunch
    The biggest cause of that sleepy feeling is overdoing it at lunch time. If you eat a huge mid-day meal, your body’s going to be putting its energy resources into digestion.

Make sure you have a healthy breakfast to see you through the morning, and you won’t be starving at lunch time. Taking your own lunch to work is often the best option, not only for your health but also for your wallet. Try having a wholegrain sandwich filled with lean protein (such as wafer-thin turkey) and salad. Add a couple of pieces of fruit.

  • Drink Plenty of Water
    As well as eating right, you’ll want to stay topped up on water. I drink a lot of water during the workday, and I often notice that I start losing focus and feeling tired if I’ve not topped up my water glass recently. 

Instead of automatically heading for the coffee machine when you feel an energy slump coming on, grab a glass of cool water instead. It can really wake you up.

  • Take a Power-Nap
    This isn’t an option for a lot of people – but if you’re a student, if you work from home or have a very understanding boss, taking a quick power-nap can be a great way to coast over a slump! Twenty to thirty minutes is enough (set an alarm); any longer, and you risk waking up feeling even more groggy. 

If you find that you can’t sleep during the day, try meditating instead: some people report finding this just as refreshing.

  • Eat a Healthy Snack
    If you took the above advice to go light on lunch, you might start feeling a little peckish mid-afternoon. A healthy snack (such as a piece of fruit, a yogurt, a granola bar or a few nuts) will give you a sustained energy boost to see you through till home time. 

Avoid sugary snacks, though: they’ll pick you up initially, but the slump will just be deeper once they’ve worn off.

  • Get Your Heart Pumping
    If you’re falling asleep at your desk, or if you feel completely unmotivated, get up and go for a brisk walk. It only needs to be five or ten minutes (walk round the corridors if you can’t escape out into the fresh air) – just make sure you get your heart rate up a bit. 

In general, it’s a good idea not to stay sitting at your desk for more than an hour without getting up and having a quick break: if you tend to get backache or sore eyes after a day at the computer, this can really help. At the very least, do some desk stretches.

  • Focus on an Exciting Task
    Finally, the cause of that afternoon slump is often partly psychological. If you’re working on something tedious or seemingly-pointless, it’s very hard to approach it with much energy. 

Where possible, switch to something that engages and interest you when you feel your energy levels dipping: rotating between two or three different tasks can actually increase your productivity. If you really do have to get through something dull, focus on the end result: how you’ll feel to have accomplished it, or what it’ll mean to your boss, team or clients.

Do you find yourself feeling zonked out in the afternoons? What’s causes your energy slumps – and what do you do to deal with them?

Written on 10/06/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ([email protected]) or check out her website at Aliventures. Photo Credit: seantyler
Ali Luke

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