It’s exactly 1:08 in the afternoon as your eyelids slowly slide closed. You are so full. The office is so cold and has no windows. The struggle is real. The average person’s circadian rhythm has a slump in energy between 1pm and 3pm, but there are things you can do to remediate that dip in energy. Keep reading to discover 5 ways to get your energy up during the afternoon slump.
Look out a Window
Remember back to when you were in school, and you would stare out the window and daydream? That is the idea, except you are not bored. You are falling asleep on the job. Soaking in some rays by looking out the window, or better yet, going outside will help your body reduce its melatonin levels (sleep inducer) and increase serotonin levels (mood booster). Maybe take your lunch outside or find a window to sit by, if you work in an enclosed box of an office. Just seeing the sunlight triggers mood-boosting serotonin. So, avoid the slump and catch some rays.
Choose Smart Foods
Yes, that bag of Doritos was good. So was the Twix bar. However, neither of those foods are smart ones. Both have a high glycemic index which means your blood sugar is going to take a hit. And then a dip. Which then results in that crash of energy that we know all too well. To keep your energy levels even, you want complex carbs and high in protein and fiber foods. Beans embody all of these categories. They are complex carbs that are high in protein and high in fiber. Also on the list are brown rice and corn. Does that give you license to eat Latino food for lunch every day? Absolutely! Just choose a combination that includes brown rice, beans, and corn tortillas, and you will be kosher (as long as you skip the pork)!
Take an Exercise Break
A brisk 10-minute walk will get your energy up as it releases serotonin and endorphins. If you cannot go outside for the walk, you might try speed walking down the hallway. You may get some strange looks from your coworkers, but at least you will be energized. Another way to garner funny looks in the office is to strike a pose; the Downward Dog yoga pose to be precise. This particular pose is said to increase blood flow as well as energy. Next time you feel your eyes drooping, get those thighs moving!
Avoid Sugar and Possibly Caffeine
Way to take the joy out of life, right? Like simple carbohydrates, sugar will cause a spike in insulin followed by an abrupt drop in insulin and in energy. If you really do need something sweet, pair it with a food that is high in protein and fiber such as almonds. Too many cups of coffee, which apparently is anything past 4 cups (32 ounces), can cause disruptions in your sleep patterns which will affect your energy during the day. So, nothing more than one Venti plus a Tall at Starbucks. People with Type 2 diabetes should avoid caffeine all together. Studies show that caffeine can cause insulin spikes and then dips for this demographic, which has a negative effect on energy.
The human brain is comprised of about 77% water, so it is no wonder that hydration affects energy. Staying hydrated requires a more proactive approach. When you start feeling thirsty, you are likely already dehydrated and may already be missing 1-2% of your body's water content. The recommended 8 cups of water per day actually only accounts for half of the fluids that you should be ingesting per day if you are a male and 70% if you are a female. Hydration can come from other high-water liquids as well such as milk, juice, coffee, tea, and even soda. About 20% of hydration also comes from foods you eat such as fruit and vegetables. The fruit with the highest water content is a watermelon (go figure). And lettuce and cucumber tie for first for vegetable with the highest water content. Who knew that eating a salad was part of hydration and thus, higher energy?
What will it be? Whether it is lunch outside, or a quick stroll through the hall, eating Mexican food, or adding nuts to your salad; choose one of these 5 ways to get your energy up during the afternoon slump. Which one will you try next?