7 Ways To Overcome The Afternoon Slump
There comes a time in everyone's day, past the lunchtime peak, yet before the productive hours of the day are over — that dreaded, no-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, midday slump. Yet contrary to what you may think in that hopeless rut of a moment, there are ways to beat the afternoon slump. It' a strange little phenomenon. You were just powering through the morning, checking things off your list, making those phone calls, and clearing out your inbox, when all of a sudden all you can think of doing is curling up in your bed and calling it a day.
Well, hey — rest assured, you're not alone. As pointed out on Greatist, circadian rhythms, which affect our sleep patterns, may be to blame for the midday slump. This is because our sleep signals peak both at night and in the afternoon. Based on our body's natural rhythms and energy fluctuations, there are optimal times throughout the day for specific tasks. So to positively make the most of this afternoon slump and make sure it doesn't stop us from getting what we need to done, here are seven ways to overcome it.
1. Get Away
No, I'm not suggesting you spontaneously drop everything and hop on the next flight to Antigua each time you feel that afternoon slump hit (though that'd be fun) — but whether you've been sitting at your desk, staring at the same computer screen, or just hanging out in the same place and doing any task for a prolonged period of time — you're definitely due for a change in scenery. According to Fast Company, a change in location helps renew your focus. This is because the new environment helps you tackle your to-do list more efficiently rather than being distracted by the tedium of a familiar place. Or even if you're not escaping to work someplace else, a nice break and change in pace will definitely help you recharge and wake up a bit.
2. Listen To Some Music
Try putting together a mid-afternoon, motivating playlist with songs that'll help fire you up and take on life. As pointed out in The Huffington Post, according to Jim Karas, co-author of The 7-Day Energy Surge, brain-imaging techniques have linked music and its effects on our nervous system to improved mood and well-being. So turn up that Beyoncé like the badass you are.
3. Talk It Out
Chances are, your co-workers, friends, and family are also feeling some of those slumpy vibes, so take the team approach. Even if they aren't, breaking away from whatever zone you were drifting off in always helps with a little chat. Take a walk together, plan something, get that blood moving and that energy flowing as you maybe exchange some creative work ideas, plan your next trip, or even just talk about how you've shamelessly played Justin Bieber's album on repeat and you're totally questioning who you've become. At the very least, it'll be a motivating and entertaining pick-me-up that you didn't know you needed. Like J. Biebs' new album. #SorryNotSorry.
4. Divvy Up Your Tasks
Try breaking up your work or whatever it is you're doing in increments so it doesn't seem like you're doing the same thing forever. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, paying attention to the body clock can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks. This goes back to those nifty circadian rhythms we modern day humans are so good at not following.
For example, whenever any cognitive work is involved, professor of molecular and computational biology at the University of Southern California, Dr. Steve Kay, told the WSJ that most adults perform better in the late morning. Of course, this world is divided between morning people, night owls, and those who shift in between, so paying attention to when you're most alert is sure to help you organize when to undertake some of those more demanding tasks.
Even when your brain has hit a wall, you can still be productive. According to Reader's Digest, mindless tasks that don't require much energy or concentration, like cleaning your space or clearing out your inbox, will leave you feeling more energized because you'll have accomplished something visible as well as having reduced energy-sapping clutter.
6. Eat Healthy Energy-Boosting Food
Another big player that contributes to the afternoon slump is what you are — and aren't — eating. While it's debatable whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it's definitely important and you absolutely should not be skipping it. Lona Sandon, R.D., MEd, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and assistant professor of nutrition told WebMD that you need carbs to get your day going. This is because the brain and muscles function best with carbohydrates to fuel them. Sandon pointed to further research that's shown that adding protein to carbs can boost concentration levels as well.
So you're all fueled up by that nutritious, energizing breakfast and maybe you're thinking you can power through and skip lunch. Well, that afternoon slump will be waiting for you with open, cozy arms come two 'o clock. Have your healthy portion of protein and definitely avoid food high in those unhealthy fats, Sandon said. These take longer to digest (and use up a bunch of energy in doing so) while sitting in your stomach, making you feel more sluggish.
Whether it's 10 minutes of sunlight, an energy-boosting natural oil, or bringing some revitalizing greenery to your cubicle, nature always nurtures. According to Reader's Digest, going outside will help reset your chronological clock, keep down the amount of melatonin (the sleep hormone) your body produces during the circadian dip, and give you that valuable boost of vitamin D.
Can't go outside and soak in the sun? Bring it inside. Well, not the sun. Try some natural energy-enhancing peppermint oil that's sure to wake you up. Or even better, get a plant. Reader's Digest also pointed to studies that have found that sharing your space with a live, growing thing boosts your mood. And plants like rosemary have a very effective, energizing effect just by their fragrance alone.
So next time you're rounding the dreaded corner of that irrelevant hour of the day that always seems to sneak attack you with sleepiness, fear not. Because now you have seven of these secret weapons to conquer that afternoon slump.
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