5 Strategies for Surviving the Afternoon Slump
It's only Tuesday, and it's been a long week already. And on top of that, here comes two o'clock, the witching hour when the yawns start and the clock slows to a snail's pace. Your motivation wanes, your mind wanders, and you slump at your desk, chin in hand, and scroll through your Facebook feed or browse cute shoes for your cousin's wedding, eyes glazed and mind numb. You know the stack of work next to you isn't going to do itself, but you can't seem to pull yourself out of this daily afternoon funk. Here's what you need to do.
Get up and get moving.
Sitting for more than a couple of hours at a stretch is really, really bad for you, increasing your risk of a range of devastating diseases, according to recent studies, and it can also contribute to your daily waning. Staring at a screen for so long can make you and your eyes feel tired and blah, adding to the grogginess. Get up and take a quick trip around the office or run up and down the stairs once or twice to get your blood pumping and activate some muscles. Stretch your limbs, do a couple of squats, take a few deep breaths, and you'll be ready to dig in to your work with gusto.
Have a snack.
Low blood sugar mid-afternoon can really do a number on your energy level. Keep healthy snacks handy for this very reason to help you keep your energy up for the final stretch. But whatever you do, don't reach for anything sweet. Try something with a little protein for the best results: a cup of yogurt, apple slices dipped in peanut butter, a boiled egg, or a handful of almonds are all good choices to get your brain functioning again.
Clear your head.
A little dose of fresh air and some natural light can do wonders for snapping you out of a foggy funk and bringing you back to your sharp, motivated self. Take a quick stroll around the block, or sit on a bench in the sunshine for a few minutes. Do a minute or so of deep breathing exercises, focusing on your breath and letting your thoughts idly drift by, and then make a plan of action for when you get back to your desk. Visualize yourself doing what you need to do.
Have some caffeine.
Unless you're sensitive to caffeine and an afternoon dose of it will keep you up all night counting sheep, have yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Stay away from soda — its ill effects on your health can't be overstated — and avoid getting caught in the expensive and addictive habit of a daily calorie-laden coffee beverage crafted by a barista. Just a plain old cuppa will do the trick nicely.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychology found that chewing gum can improve concentration during visual and audio memory tasks, like the report you're whipping up or the droning meeting you're in on. But that's not the only thing gum does to help you through the afternoon. A study published in the journal, Brain and Cognition, found that chewing gum can boost alertness by 10 percent, and a study published in the journal, Nutritional Neuroscience, found that chewing gum is also associated with a better mood and stress relief. Just make sure it's sugar-free gum or you'll be spending one of your afternoon slumps in the dentist's chair.