When that dreaded afternoon slump hits, roughly around the 3:00 p.m. mark, we often find ourselves low in energy, high in cravings, and ready to go home. However, by keeping our minds sharp and fueling ourselves with healthy food and habits, we can banish fatigue and bounce back with more energy and motivation to keep up with the day's tasks.
As a certified health coach, I work with people on balancing their energy levels and feeling more productive and happy each day. By addressing the causes of chronic fatigue and finding ways to overcome them, we are able to boost energy and cognition, allowing them to meet their goals and excel in their endeavors. Food, exercise habits, stress and sleep can all affect energy levels, and even if you find yourself getting enough sleep and sticking with healthy habits, it's still likely that you'll experience lulls in energy, especially around mid-day at the office. Our bodies naturally drop in energy, and unless we are given the proper food, activity or stimulant to bring ourselves back up, we'll just be dragging along.
Here are eleven ways to boost your mental awareness when you're reaching an energy low and need a quick pick-me-up.
1. Take A Walk Around The Office
"Going for a walk around the office every two hours or so can be beneficial for your health and can boost energy levels," says web designer Jeremy Greenberg, founder of digital marketing agency 97 Switch, over email with Bustle. Pace around when taking a phone call to get your cognitive juices flowing. Sitting for too long can be draining, so getting in some movement throughout the day can instantly perk you up and get circulation moving again.
"Introduce mini-breaks in between tasks that include movement, fresh air, mindfulness and nourishment," advises Chicago-based therapist, Chelsea Hudson, LCPC, over email with Bustle. Take a 10 minute walk, do some jumping jacks or some stretches," Hudson suggests. Plus, these short, high-intensity spurts of exercise are also beneficial for your overall health and stress levels.
3. Get Some Fresh Air
Head outside for an afternoon coffee or a lunch. Research shows that fresh air can provide energy and enhance one's mood, due to the fresh source of oxygenated blood and the boost in circulation throughout the body. "Go outside and get some sun on your face or feel the wind blowing through your hair," suggests Hudson. The vitamin D from sunshine can also promote greater energy and productivity, as well.
4. Eat Every Few Hours
Slumps in energy can occur due to lack of nutrition and hunger, so it's important to keep your mind and body fueled throughout the day. Low energy often comes from a deficit in blood sugar, so it's important to "keep your blood-glucose levels stable," says Hudson. "Foods with a low glycemic index such as apples, whole wheat crackers and walnuts are the best for sustaining concentration levels," Hudson says. Hudson recommends guaranteeing "easy access to a variety of snacks to eat every 2-3 hours." However, keep snack size small, as too much food can make you tired.
5. Re-Center Your Mind
"Find a quiet place and do an 8-10 minute body scan or breathing meditation. Apps such as Calm and Headspace are great for short, convenient meditations," says Hudson. Experts share that meditation can increase energy and mental awareness, so making time for it when you experience a low in stamina can instantly help reboot your system.
6. Chew Gum
Specifically, peppermint gum. Studies show that peppermint gum can enhance cognition, mental alertness and energy levels. When you are experiencing fatigue, skip the donut or coffee and reach for a stick of gum instead. Not only will your breath be minty fresh, but also your mind will sharpen and motivation levels will increase. Keep gum stashed in your purse or office desk.
7. Take Fish Oil Supplements
Research shows that fish oil supplements can boost brain and heart health and prevent risk of Alzheimer's disease, among others. It's important to find a supplement that has the proper ratio of fatty acids and doesn't contain any harmful substances. By understanding how to read the labels on fish oil supplements, you'll be better able to secure a reliable source of omega 3's. Also, you eat albacore tuna, shrimp or salmon with leafy greens for a tasty, omega 3-filled lunch or snack.
8. Bring Hard Broiled Eggs To The Office
Eggs are great for your brain, as they are packed with protein, B vitamins and choline, which is a substance especially beneficial for mental awareness and energy levels. Eat some scrambled for breakfast in order to start your day off with a high-protein and energy-filled mood, or keep hard broiled eggs in your lunchbox for an afternoon slump at work. Pair with some veggies, such as spinach or arugula, to get in some extra greens and energy-boosting power.
9. Drink White Tea
"Sip on some white tea," says certified holistic health coach and personal trainer, Jen Bruno at J.B. Fitness and Nutrition, over email with Bustle. White tea is lower in caffeine but has an amino acid, L-theanine, that boosts mental alertness, while still keeping the body calm enough to perform productively and mindfully. Keep bags at the office or in your bag.
10. Do Breathing Exercises
"Do a few deep breathing exercises," says Bruno. "4 seconds inhale, hold for 4 seconds, 4 seconds exhale," is a great option according to Bruno. Breathing can bring fresh oxygen back into the body to boost energy levels and refresh the mind. Plus, breathing is in line with mediation, where we can collect our thoughts.
11. Eat A Piece Of Fruit
Bruno suggests eating a small piece of fruit when energy is low, as fruit's natural energy can help lift us up and give us the burst we need to re-balance our blood sugar levels. For more brain power, keep blueberries on hand, as they have been shown to enhance brain function and lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.
When you feel yourself getting tired, perk yourself up with these easy, natural remedies. Keeping yourself on a proper eating, exercise and sleep schedule can help you have more energy and mental awareness during the day, but when we fall privy to these ruts in the day, it's best to stay prepared and overcome the obstacles quickly.
Images: Pexels (12); Isla Murray/Bustle