You likely you know the feeling: around 2:30, your lunch break feels like a distant memory— yet somehow there are still hours before the day ends. You can’t stop yawning, and it feels impossible to focus. Your body feels slow and heavy and your eyes hurt. Your responsibilities suddenly feel insurmountable; all you want is to crawl under your desk and take a nap.
This unpleasant experience is none other than midday fatigue, or, an “afternoon slump.” It happens to almost everybody from time to time— but it can mostly be avoided with a few simple lifestyle changes.
An active body begets an active mind
Ever wonder why you don’t feel so tired on the weekends? Aside from the fact that you probably sleep better and for longer, it might have to do with your physical activity. If your daily responsibilities require you to sit or stand in one spot for hours on end, it’s likely going to make you feel tired— after all, your body associates stillness with sleep.
Sure, if your job requires you to sit at a desk or stand at a counter all day, you can’t ignore that. But, you can definitely still sneak in some movement and activity whenever possible— and it will make a difference in your energy levels. Try swapping your chair out for an exercise ball, using small breaks to take a walk outside, or have a look at some simple “office yoga” poses. They’ll help keep your body and mind active.
Hydration is key!
Yes, we all know how important it is to drink water, but many of us relegate it to hot days or after working out. The reality is that a person needs to stay all year long, not just during extreme weather or physical conditions— dehydration can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Likely, you aren’t that severely dehydrated, but on a regular day, not getting enough water will still mess you up— it’s a common culprit for exhaustion and irritability.
A solution for this? Drink more water, of course. Be sure to keep a big, full bottle of water with you at work, and set alarms or reminders on your phone to drink up. If you don’t like the taste of water and prefer soda or juice, maybe flavored seltzer would be right for you— it has the same hydrating effects of water but feels like a ‘treat’ to drink.
The food you eat deserves attention
When lunchtime is the only break from the drudgery of your daily grind, it can be tempting to want to go for something “fun” every day. The problem is, eating a heavy and extravagant meal in the middle of the day tends to zap one’s energy levels. Sitting down to work and digesting a huge plate of pasta can cause the afternoon slump to hit hard. The same goes for dessert— yes, an ice cream sundae with your colleagues is a fun way to blow off steam, but save it for after you clock out. Otherwise, you might find yourself heading for a nasty sugar crash in the middle of your shift.
Our suggestion? Save the heavy meals for after work, or at least special occasions. Instead, look for lunches that are high in protein, fiber, and complex carbs for your midday meal. We love making hearty salads with roasted veggies, nuts, beans or lentils, and some fresh fruit. They’ll keep your body going in a way that’s sustained and healthy— unlike sugary snacks or carb-heavy meals, which just cause a short-lived spike.
Have a plan for when the slump hits anyway
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the afternoon slump hits anyway. It happens to the best of us. The key to salvaging your day? Having a plan. When an unstoppable attack of the midday exhaustion hits, take action and follow these steps:
- Get up.
Take a break. It doesn’t need to be long. It can be a trip to the bathroom if you can’t go far. But, temporarily removing yourself from the environment that’s putting you to sleep will help.
- Do a physical activity.
Again, this doesn’t need to be a marathon. It can be something are simple are shaking out your arms and legs and giving your shoulders a good wiggle. Just try to move a little, and get your blood flowing.
- Take an energy shot.
Energy shots can be taken in moments, and work almost instantly—very convenient for these types of situations, where you need to snap out of your fatigue ASAP.
As your energy drink starts to work its magic, give yourself one extra boost and throw a bit of cold water onto your face. If you have the time, a breather outside will be refreshing and helpful.
- Get back to it.
Time to dive back in. You’ve got this!
This blog is brought to you by the team at 5-hour ENERGY®.