Beating the Afternoon Slump

It’s 3 pm, you are sitting in a meeting and your eyes are starting to glaze over. It’s that time of the day when many of us struggle to get through the day. Here are some ways to re-energize and beat the afternoon slump!

Feeling tired and sleepy in the afternoon can be a sign of several underlying issues. So before we chat about how you can beat the slump, let’s look into what may be causing it.

  • Are you getting enough rest the night before? Most of us are getting less than 6 hours of sleep every night. Sleep hygiene may be the most important aspect of health and is often ignored (I admit- even I have a ways to go in improving my sleep schedule). Make sure you make sleep a priority and start getting 7.5-8 hours/night 
  • Are your adrenals fatigued? Adrenal fatigue is modern phenomenon caused by our insane lifestyles where we are sleep deprived, stressed beyond belief and our diets are lacking in essential nutrients but high in excitatory toxins like sugar and caffeine. All these factors increase our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by your adrenal gland and it regulates blood pressure, insulin release and how the body utilizes micronutrients. So my peeps, it’s a very important hormone to say the least! It is usually secreted most in the morning and is at it’s lowest levels in the night. When you are stressed out, eating wrong or not getting enough sleep, your cortisol levels get out of whack and you actually end up craving more starchy carbs and sugar as a result of it!

It’s important to deal with the root cause instead of applying band-aid solutions. So if you suspect that lack of sleep or adrenal fatigue is an issue for you, address that and you will see a vast improvement in your energy levels in the afternoon.

So now on to the business of boosting those energy levels. Here are some tips to try the next time you are drooling over your keyboard at work:

1. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

Lack of hydration is the #1 culprit for low energy levels. Make sure you are getting 8-10 glasses of water a day. Avoid caffeine since it spikes your cortisol levels and causes nasty cravings! If you do drink tea or coffee, make sure for every cup you drink 2 cups of water.

2. Try Green Tea

If you are really struggling, give green tea a shot. It does contain caffeine (~30 mg), but it’s a lot lower than regular coffee (250-300 mg). Green tea has numerous benefits including a high amount of antioxidants and polyphenols that fight free radicals and reduce cancer risk. Green tea is also great for revving up your metabolism, aiding weight loss, and lowering blood pressure. It also contains the amino acid, L-Theanine that can help boost brain function, also reducing the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. You can also give Matcha Green Tea a shot. It contains more caffeine (~70 mg), but it is the whole leaf, not just the brewed water like in traditional green tea. So it contains 10X the antioxidants and nutritional content of regular green tea. You can add it to smoothies or make a homemade latte with almond milk!

3. Grab a Healthy Snack

Grab some celery sticks with hummus or raw almonds. A healthy snack will boost your energy levels without spiking your blood glucose levels. Always try to combine your carbs with protein, as protein reduces the blood glucose spike caused due to carbohydrates. The last thing you want to do is reach for processed snacks like chips or cookies that will cause a rush of insulin in your blood and then the imminent sugar crash!

4. Take a Walk

Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air. Even a 5-minute walk around the block will help re-energize your body. Sitting indoors with stale air can really starve our cells of oxygen. When you have a lack of oxygen, your brain activity actually slows down and you feel sleepy. If you can’t go for a walk, take a few minutes to take deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through your mouth, fully expanding and contracting your diaphragm and tummy.

5. Stretch

A couple of minutes of
dynamic and static stretching right at your desk can increase circulation to your muscles, reduce stress, and promote a sense of well-being. Stretching also improves posture which is key for your spinal and nervous system health, especially if your job involves sitting most of the day.

6. Eat a Protein-rich Breakfast

Eating a healthy breakfast loaded with protein will usually prevent you from feeling the afternoon slump. A smoothie with greens, fruits and hemp protein or chia seeds gives you the feeling of fullness and will ensure you don’t indulge at lunch and have sustained energy levels all throughout the day. Other great options are whole grain or sprouted bread with nut butter and a banana, eggs with toast and oatmeal or yogurt topped with a little honey and nuts.

7. Avoid a Heavy Lunch

Say no to burgers, pizzas, and other heavy, carb-heavy meals at lunchtime. We are all aware of the food coma that a heavy lunch can lead to. Instead opt for nutrient-dense salad wrap or a well-rounded meal with protein, veggies, and a healthy carb like brown rice or quinoa (which also is high in protein)

So hang in there friends! I hope some of these tips work for you. Do share your tips and tricks for fighting off that dreaded 3 pm slump!

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