Nothing makes the afternoon endless like the after-lunch slump. All you want to do is crawl under your desk (or into a closet or the backseat of your car) and take a nap. If you're tired of fighting the slump, here are some things you can do to prevent it from happening.
Instead of getting back on task after you eat lunch, get out and exercise instead. Even office workers can go for a quick walk inside (or outside) the office building. Those who work outdoors can do stretches and breathing, or walk up and down a flight of stairs for 10 minutes. You don't have to work up a big sweat, just enough to get the adrenalin going.
Interacting with animals increases the release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps us get calm and focused. It's the anti-stress hormone. A study from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine found that even just thinking about our pets gives us a little pick-me-up of oxytocin. Keep pictures of your best boy on your desk and give them a peek when you start feeling the slump. You can also watch cat videos—whatever you've got!
Sure, coffee is a kind of go-to booster for all kinds of energy slumps. The key to getting coffee to work post-lunch is timing it right. Make sure you're having it before 2 p.m., when you start waning. You'll get the immediate boost without setting yourself for poor sleep in the evening. Good sleep at night will keep you from getting the slump the next day.
If you start to feel the slump, pop in a stick of gum. A study out of St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., found that students who chewed gum before an exam performed better than those who didn't. This was especially true in parts of the test that required memory. Just be sure to spit it out after 15 minutes, because after that you actually decrease your mental stimulation.
A glass of water has the effect of improving mood, performance and concentration when you're dehydrated.
Who doesn't know music is a great mood booster? But it is, and it's often overlooked as a way to get through the post-lunch blues. Pop on some headphones and head over to an upbeat playlist. Even just a few songs will get your brain stimulated and get you through the next hour or two.
You can also avoid the after-lunch slump by making sure that what you eat for lunch isn't causing it. A carb-heavy lunch will spike your blood sugar levels and you'll be crashing once you're back at your desk. Focus on vegetables with protein and some fat. This will fill you up while keeping your energy levels regulated.
Avoiding large meals, no matter the carb content, will keep the slump at bay. Nothing makes you sleepier than an overly full belly and a seemingly endless afternoon that stretches out in front of you.
Sleep—good, quality sleep—is key to moderating your energy levels throughout the day. If you're already tired mid-morning, you're really going to want a nap after lunch. Find a way to get more hours of sleep if you find the slump is getting in your way. Go to bed earlier or cut back on your morning routine in order to sleep in longer in the morning.
Protein-rich foods and fats keep you fuller longer, and they help regulate your energy levels. Make sure what you eat is helping you stay energized and alert all day.
Though the slump tends to come after lunch, what you had for breakfast (you did have breakfast, didn't you?) plays a role in how you'll feel all the way into the afternoon. A healthy breakfast gives you the energy you need to get going in the morning.
What you wear can also help you manage your day. Bright clothing and accessories can give you an instant boost of energy.
While you're changing socks, roll your toes for a couple of minutes. Or massage one foot with your other foot and vice versa. This footwork may stimulate your brain, possibly by triggering endorphin production, which is what will keep you from a deep dive into the post-lunch slump. Reflexologists swear by it, though there are no conclusive studies as to its effectiveness.
If all else fails to prevent the afternoon slump, try decluttering your desk. Clean it up from the morning's work and start fresh. It will give you a new look and can help you feel less overwhelmed and more energized. And, since you weren't going to get anything done in the slump anyway, cleaning your desk will at least give you the feeling that you got something done during the day.
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