Find yourself yawning during a big afternoon meeting? That familiar 2 pm slump can happen to anyone. Refresh, refocus, and get your afternoon back on track by following these steps.
1. Take a brain break
If you can’t get outside, take five minutes to close your eyes and picture your favorite vacation spot. Think about what you see, hear, smell, and taste, until you feel like you’re there. After your mini mental vacation, you’ll be ready to focus again on your work.
2. Grab a healthy lunch
Using coffee as an energy crutch? Your lunch could be to blame. Shannon Ehrhardt, a dietitian at EXOS, says, “The biggest contributor to an afternoon crash is a lunch with too many simple carbohydrates and not enough fat because our bodies burn through simple sugars quickly.” She also adds that dehydration can contribute to a drowsy afternoon because nutrients aren’t able to travel efficiently to your brain.
Shannon recommends avocado toast, hard-boiled eggs with hummus, or a quality trail mix with a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried berries.
3. Get moving
The average American spends over seven hours a day sitting, and sitting that much signals to your body that it’s nap time. EXOS performance specialist Eric Dannenberg recommends setting a reminder to move and putting a checkmark on your calendar for every day you work on your new habit. “It’s OK to miss a day or two, but no check marks for three days will convince you to move on the fourth day,” he says.
If you’ve only got a few minutes, Eric offers this quick workout to get your heart rate up: Start with three to five explosive jumps up the stairs. Then head to an empty hallway for a half-kneeling stretch and three to five explosive pushups.
Doing this in the stairwell or hallway means you won’t attract attention, and you’ll head back to your desk with more energy.
4. Refill your energy tank
You could be running on empty because you aren’t letting your body recover properly from your busy life. One way to recover better? Get more sleep. A good night’s sleep can improve mood, increase mental clarity and creativity, and boost performance. (Come back next week for our post on how sleep affects your creativity.)
While you can’t undo last night’s poor sleep, you can get a quick boost with this breathing pattern: Inhale for four seconds, and then exhale in a quick burst. Make sure you really expel the air as quickly as you can. Repeat five times to fire up your sympathetic nervous system and get your adrenaline pumping.