Does this scenario sound familiar: You were going full steam ahead in the morning. Now, it's mid-afternoon, and you're not feeling very productive. You were planning to get so much done this afternoon, but all you can do is imagine taking a nap—and a long one.
How will you possibly get through the rest of the day when sleeping isn't an option?
You really can beat the afternoon slump without turning to caffeine, sugar or, yes, a nap. Read on for a few ideas that are worth trying.
Fuel up right.
That means at lunchtime opt for protein over energy-draining carbs. Go for tuna salad in place of a tuna sandwich with bread. Instead of a pasta salad, choose a green salad with a diced hardboiled egg, low-fat cheese, beans, chickpeas or sliced turkey. Lunches that are heavy in fat take longer to digest and sit in your stomach, giving you low energy. Sure, you may feel full when you eat, but that fullness can make you feel sluggish later.
Do something mindless yet meaningful.
Get through the slump by being productive without exerting much concentration or thought. Clear out your email inbox, put away files, submit expense reports or clean your desk. These mindless tasks require little brain power. And you'll be left feeling energized over accomplishing a task.
Take a walk outside. Go up and down a few flights of your office staircase. Do some lunges or squats at your desk or in an empty conference room. These activities will get your heart rate pumping and muscles moving and warm you up. And the change of scenery—even if it's just a stairwell instead of your office—will help reenergize you.
Drinking a big glass of cold water can be refreshing, invigorating and energizing. And adding a slice of lime or lemon can perk you up, too.
Chew some gum.
The act of chewing gum can help prevent your brain from becoming lethargic. And it does your teeth good, helping get rid of germs that can cause cavities and gum disease. Just be sure to select a sugar-free variety.
Schedule a meeting.
Work independently? Organize a meeting with colleagues. The social interaction will force you to concentrate. Just be sure it's not a dull meeting. You want a group activity that's interesting and interactive, not boring enough to lull you to sleep.
Get some light.
Head outside and soak in the sun. Just sit there for a few minutes, take a short walk or, if you can, eat your lunch outside. The sunshine is sure to boost your alertness.
Sniff a scent.
Aromatherapy is known to help boost moods. So put a drop of energy-enhancing peppermint oil in your hands and rub them together. Rub your oil-covered hands on your face, avoiding your eyes, for a pick-me-up.
Switch things up.
Add some variety to your routine. When you feel that your focus is fading, switch to another task for a bit. That way something won't feel mind-numbing enough to make you lose your productivity. Then (if it can't wait any longer), return to what you were doing.
Pinch your cheeks.
You may have hated when Grandma or Grandpa squeezed your face when you were a kid. But they may have had a point. Squeezing your cheeks helps stimulate blood flow to your face. And that will help you feel more alert.
Reach out to someone special.
Check in with a friend or family member via phone, email or text. The quick catch-up will lift your spirits—and someone else's, too.