Sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 pm, I start to drag. I feel tired and unfocused. It doesn’t matter whether I’m trying complete something for a client, whether I’m working on a special project of my own, or preparing to go to the grocery store. For many of us, battling the mid-afternoon slump is a real concern. It sucks the productivity out of the day, and it can be hard to get anything done in a timely manner.
While I don’t often work after lunch, there are things that I want to do during that time period without dealing with the slump. Here are some of my strategies for battling the mid-afternoon slump:
1. Get Up and Move Around
One of the best things you can do is move around. If you’ve been sitting for a while, it’s easy to feel fatigued. Moving around can provide you with a jolt of energy. Exercise also helps your brain. If you feel fuzzy and unmotivated, or if you feel your creativity and focus slipping away, don’t try to hold onto it. Instead, stand up and walk around. Brisk exercise can help re-energize you, and can even help you re-focus later. Take 10 minutes to walk, do yoga, or engage in some other physical activity. I recently bought a punching bag, and I find 10 to 15 minutes working with the bag can do wonders for my concentration.
2. Power Nap
Sometimes battling the mid-afternoon slump is about getting a little sleep. A good power nap can refresh you, and bring you back to your project ready to go. It is important to be careful, though. The point of a power nap is to help you re-energize. You don’t want to sleep too long and wind up suffering from sleep inertia — which is worse than the slump. If I plan to power nap, I often decide to meditate instead. A 15-minute guided meditation often comes with the same effect as a power nap.
3. Eat the Right Foods
You can get a nice boost in the afternoon with the right snack. You want an energy-boosting snack that won’t lead to a crash, either. So stay away from the sweets. Some of the best snacks include:
- Raw, unsalted almonds
- Dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao
- Citrus fruit
- Ginger tea
These foods also have the benefit of being relatively low in calories. And every calorie that you consume is full of nutrients — and can help you prepare for the rest of the day.
4. Deep Breathing
Breathing exercises can help you perk up during the mid-afternoon slump. I find that combining breathing with yoga can really help me boost my energy level during the afternoon. Not only can deep breathing help get the oxygen moving through your brain, but it can also relieve stress. If you’re trying hard with your afternoon tasks and becoming stressed, you can use breathing exercises to help you reduce that stress and clear your head.
5. Experience Nature
We love nature. You can reduce mental fatigue by experiencing nature in some way. Maybe you can take a stroll outside (you get double the benefit because you’re moving around, and getting outdoors). Sometimes, your environment can help in battling the mid-afternoon slump. I have a plant near my desk, and the greenery is a great help to me as I work to prevent mental fatigue. Pictures of nature, as well as just walking to a window can help.
Don’t try to get through the mid-afternoon slump on your own. If you employ at least one of these strategies (and maybe even do all five!), you can kickstart your brain again, and make it through to the end of the afternoon.