Did you know that we are the most productive in the first 2 to 4 hours after waking up?
Our focus and alertness peak during this period, but they start to decline around midday. That’s why we feel sluggish, tired, and often sleepy after lunch (aka afternoon slump).
The good news? You can power through the afternoon without sacrificing your productivity if you give your metabolism a boost.
Here are simple and effective science-backed tips that will bring back your energy when the afternoon slump hits you:
Stretching improves circulation and blood flow to the brain, improving your alertness.
Here are five simple stretches you can do in five minutes, even at your cubicle. These will re-energize you and relieve stress, especially after a few hours of banging away at your keyboard:
1. Seated hamstring stretch
In a seated position, extend one leg forward, and with a straight back, try to touch the tip of your foot with the tip of your fingers. Repeat on the other side.
2. Shoulder stretch
Interlace your arms in front of you and clasp both hands. Pull your shoulders down and back until you feel a good stretch.
3. Ragdoll forward fold
With slightly bent knees, fold forward keeping a straight back. Grab opposite elbows and let your neck and shoulders relax.
4. Standing twist
Bend and lift your right knee and hold it with your left hand. Twist your torso towards the right side. Switch knees and repeat on the left side.
5. Side stretches
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and reach both arms over your head. Bend towards the left side until you feel a good stretch down your right side. Repeat on your left side.
2. Enjoy a cup of tea
Drinking white, green, black, or matcha tea can increase your energy and productivity thanks to their caffeine content. Caffeine from green tea has been found to improve cognition, energy, and alertness.
Try our Organic Metabolic Energy Tea blend, which contains yerba mate and ginseng in addition to green tea.
3. Soak up some sun
Sunlight increases our energy levels and cognitive performance.
Daylight stimulates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel awake and alert.
Taking a break from your desk to soak up natural light can decrease your fatigue and help you get back on track.
Enough light exposure during the day can also help you sleep better at night.
4. Take a short stroll outside
Taking walks in the park or a neighborhood with nature can seriously boost your energy levels.
This study found that walking in the park during lunch breaks lowered fatigue and improved concentration during the afternoon.
5. Snack on protein
Trade carbs for protein when it comes to snacks. High-carb snacks like cookies and juices sabotage your energy because the sugar is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream, causing sudden peaks in energy followed by crashes.
Opt for high-protein treats like almonds, walnuts, hummus with carrots, tuna with whole-wheat crackers, and Greek yogurt with berries.
These do a better job at keeping your blood sugar stable and boosting your energy.
6. Drink enough water
Drinking water can be the difference between feeling sluggish and drowsy or focused and alert.
This study found that drinking around 2.5 L of water a day can improve energy levels, decrease fatigue, and boost feelings of calmness.
Try drinking cold water when you feel tired and see if it makes a difference in your energy.
7. Chew gum
Chewing gum can boost your focus and lower your stress levels.
In this study, chewing gum helped to decrease sleepiness in professionals who pulled an all-nighter.
In another study, chewing gum increased alertness by 10%.
Chewing gum might give you the extra jolt you need to beat the afternoon slump.
8. Schedule work you’re passionate about in the afternoon
If you don’t want to be falling asleep after lunch, don’t leave your most boring tasks for that period.
Instead, schedule work you love in the afternoon and do your most tedious tasks in the morning when you’re the most productive.
Doing projects you genuinely enjoy will keep you engaged and focused.
On your next work break, doodle (seriously).
A recent study found that doodling can activate your reward centers and increase feelings of self-satisfaction.
This satisfaction boost releases dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel alert and energized.
10. Take the stairs
If you can, go through a flight of stairs on your way to lunch instead of walking through a ramp or taking the elevator.
Taking the stairs doesn’t just keep you fit, it also boosts your energy.
This recent study found that a low-to-moderate stair walking can be more energizing than a small dose of caffeine in sleep-deprived young women (cough).
Time to hit the stairs! Let’s do this!