How do you feel at 2:16 p.m.? Research by the U.K.’s National Health Service indicates that is the time most of us start feeling that “afternoon slump.”
It is that time of day when you begin to feel a little sleepy and seem to have lost all of your energy. If you are at work when this slump occurs, it can affect your productivity and delay task completion.
But there are ways to avoid the slump. The following three simple steps can help keep your energy at a desirable level throughout the day:
1. Improve your meal plan
When it comes to maintaining energy levels, having stable blood sugar is important, says Bronwyn Hill, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor.
She recommends minimizing refined carbohydrates as much as possible. Although they may seem filling, foods like bagels and sugary cereals are not conducive to maintaining your energy level throughout the day.
Add more protein and complex grains to your diet, Hill says. Instead of cereal, make your own oatmeal or use quinoa as a cereal. Other healthy food options are eggs, avocadoes, sugar-free nut butter and raw nuts.
“Things like that really help boost protein levels,” Hill says, “and they help keep your blood sugar more stable.”
It is easy to make healthy snacks that you can munch on throughout the day. Make your own trail mix using nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate. You can also incorporate vegetables into your day by cutting them into bite-size pieces and bringing them to work.
2. Break up your tasks
Doing a variety of tasks is important, according to Emma Nicolson, an occupational health and safety specialist with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety in Hamilton, Ont.
“Sitting for long periods of time tires the body out,” she says, “because you’re holding your body in a sustained position so the muscles fatigue.”
Make a list of tasks you have to do and organize them so you’re not in the same position for a long period. Let’s say your to-do list indicates you have to write a few emails, phone a few clients and talk to an office colleague. Write your emails, but take a break from sitting down by going to talk to the colleague in person. After that, go back to your desk and call your clients.
3. Take breaks
It is also a good idea to walk away from the desk and change your environment.
Take ten minutes and go for a walk outside. The fresh air will get your blood flowing, Nicolson says, and you will feel more alert.
Also, incorporate stretch breaks into your day. Nicolson recommends doing deep breathing as well as gently rolling your shoulders, arms, ankles and legs.
Trying to work while you are drowsy, Nicolson says, is an ineffective use of your day.
“If you think you’re being more productive by just sitting all day long,” she says, “you’re not, because you’re actually getting tired.”