We’ve all been there. You just got back from lunch, but you can’t seem to hunker down on your work — and you are beginning to feel like you might actually fall asleep at your desk. You need an intervention, and fast, so you don’t lose your focus altogether and doze off mid email. But the coffee just isn’t cutting it. You’ve officially hit the mid-afternoon slump.
If you experience your highest levels of energy in the morning and start to lose steam after lunch, you aren’t alone. In fact, experts say a little dip in the afternoon is normal, and it may have something to do with your body’s circadian rhythm (which explains why other cultures take siestas in the afternoon.) However, if you find yourself totally unable to focus, it may be time to check in on your habits.
Things like skipping breakfast or opting for overly processed snacks can play a big role in depleting your energy levels. While a quick breakfast from the vending machine and a cup of coffee may offer some temporary energy, habits like these actually do more damage in the long haul. If changes like preparing healthy make-ahead breakfasts sound intimidating, don’t fret. There are some natural ways to increase your energy at work, without hours of meal prep involved. Take a look at some of these below.
1. Go outside and get some sun. Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders to overcome that lazy post-lunch feeling. While being outside is refreshing on its own, escaping the artificial light of your office has some real health benefits. Even just 10 minutes a day in the sun helps your body produce vitamin D and increases serotonin levels, both of which naturally boost energy.
2. Try some aromatherapy. Did you know scent is scientifically proven to influence activity in the brain to transform your mood? Next time your energy fades, try relaxing with your eyes closed and breathing in an essential oil for 5-10 minutes (keep in mind you may want to check with your office mates beforehand.) Citrus oils like orange and grapefruit are also known to perk up the senses, while minty scents, like peppermint, have an invigorating effect. If you like earthier smells, cinnamon and rosemary can also be stimulating options to go with.
3. Have a healthy snack. Carbohydrates are key for sustaining energy levels during the day. If you want to increase this while avoiding a “crash,” it’s important to skip sugar. Instead, choose a nutritious snack by pairing a complex carbohydrate with a protein, which the body metabolizes more slowly. For example, instead of a bag of chips or candy, you can try a piece of whole-grain toast with almond butter or some veggies and hummus.
4. Listen to a playlist that pumps you up. Experts say energy-boosting songs can have a big impact on mood and even boost productivity levels by making you feel like you aren’t working as hard as you actually are. Next time the decline hits, make a playlist of your favorite upbeat tunes on Spotify, pop in your headphones, and watch your energy soar.
5. Laugh (and then laugh some more). Laughter can really be the best medicine. Taking the time to do (or enjoy) something silly can help break up the routine of your day, boost morale, and even help you take things a little less seriously. Whether you sneak away to text your friend a sequence of hilarious emoji and GIFs, or take five minutes to watch your favorite YouTube clip from college, make joy a priority during the daily grind. You — and your work — will be better for it.
What’s your favorite way to stay alert and concentrated at work? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)