How to beat the afternoon slump

Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on ways to beat the dreaded afternoon slump.


Some people might power through the working day with the same spring in their step no matter what the time, but many more often find they hit a slump in the afternoon after lunch. Since most workplaces frown upon staff taking naps, unfortunately a quick 15-minute snooze to replenish your energy stores is off the table. But here are some other ways that will perk you up until close of business.

Get outside

While the last thing you want to do is drag yourself up from your desk, particularly if it is raining outside, a quick 10-minute walk around the block is a great way to reset your internal clock. Bring an umbrella — I promise you won’t melt. If you can’t go outside for whatever reason, move away from your desk. Many fitness trackers these days will send you an alert if you haven’t moved for an hour, so set this up on yours if you have one. You might be surprised at how long you sit down all day.

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Focus on protein-rich lunches

While delicious, delicious carbs are, well, delicious, often they can make you feel sleepy. Carbs allow the brain to produce serotonin, a chemical that creates calm moods, and they make tryptophan, the chemical responsible for sleepiness, more available to your brain. So if you are crashing after lunch every day, consider picking a protein-heavy lunch like a salad with chicken and eggs, instead of a sandwich. Keep the carbs for dinner-time. Also, keep hydrated throughout the day — have a bottle of water on your desk to avoid dehydration, which can make you feel tired.

Be social

Interactions with others are always a good way to wake us up — humans are social animals after all. Make a conscious effort to get up and talk to your colleagues instead of sending them an email. If you are going to get a coffee, ask someone if they want to come for the walk. Go for lunch with your co-workers or meet a friend on your lunch break.

Go to bed early

This might seem obvious but your afternoon slump is going to be much, much worse if you are exhausted from not sleeping the night before. Do yourself a favour and go to bed at a reasonable hour and at least attempt to get eight hours’ sleep. I am sure that people with young children will laugh (or weep) at that but if you are childfree, there is no excuse. If you find you are not able to sleep, and then you go for some caffeine, whether that is coffee or tea, to fight the afternoon slump, you are probably in a vicious circle. Fight the urge to have any caffeine after your lunch and you should sleep much better.

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