It’s 2:30 PM, you ate lunch a couple of hours earlier, you are watching the clock, and before you know it, you are in full on afternoon slump mode. Sleepy eyes, foggy brain, and a general lack of motivation are in full swing… but you still have several hours of work left. Yikes! The afternoon slump is something that we all have experienced or will experience in our working lives. For some of us, it will be an everyday occurrence, while others will only experience it from time to time. The afternoon slump is a phenomena that can totally wreck your work day if you let it, but it doesn’t have to. Learning what brings on the slump and applying some of the following tips will help you slay the slump and finish your work day with vigor!
What is the Afternoon Slump??
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine whether or not you are experiencing the dreaded afternoon slump:
- Are you craving carbohydrates? E.g. “I want to eat an entire pizza and wash it down with a giant Coke!”
- Are you constantly yawning?
- Do you want to take a nap?
- Are your limbs feeling tingly and/or weak?
- Do you have a headache?
- Is your brain foggy?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you are likely in the midst of an afternoon slump. The phenomenon can be brought on by several things, including:
- A really carb heavy lunch, especially if there’s a combination of carbs and sugar. This causes your blood sugar to spike and crash quickly.
- You are not drinking enough water. Flavored water with artificial sweeteners and diet soda tend to dehydrate you even more… just drink plain old fashioned water.
- Poor sleep hygiene: staying up too late, staring at a screen late into the night and getting less than 6 hours of sleep will contribute to this slump.
- Poor stress management.
How to Avoid the Slump
Good news! You don’t have to slump in the afternoon; you can avoid it altogether. First and foremost, get more sleep. According to the Mayo clinic, adults should aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep. You have to give your body adequate time to rest and recover from the day. Put down the smartphone and make the room dark; that will help you get some restful sleep.
Second, avoid eating a large, carb heavy lunch. The cheeseburger and fries will taste amazing, no doubt, but all of the carbs from the bun, the ketchup and the fries will spike your blood sugar and then you will crash just as quickly. Choose a salad with a lean protein or a sandwich on whole wheat bread with a lean protein. This will help your blood sugar regulate better, avoiding the slump inducing crash.
Manage your time effectively and plan your day ahead of time. Planning ahead of time will help your stress levels to be much lower, which in turn keeps the slump inducing stress hormone cortisol at bay. Make sure to plan for frequent breaks where you get up and move around or just do something that does not require a ton of focus. Small breaks will help with stress management.
How to Escape the Slump
Oh man… you are already slumping, you didn’t heed the advice in the last section, and you are in full on nap mode. It is such a terrible feeling, but you don’t have to stay there. There are ways you can banish the afternoon crash; try these tactics to get out of the slump quickly and finish your day strong.
- Get up! Do something physical, move around. Get out of your chair and go for a walk, preferably outside where you can snag some vitamin D from the sun. A 2019 article published in The Journal of Positive Psychology states that “participants experienced mood improvements after only stepping out for 5 minutes.”
- Collaborate with others in the afternoon. Don’t be by yourself, especially if you are slumping. Joining with a group of others to work on a project task will help your brain to be stimulated and jolt you out of an afternoon crash.
- Crank up the music! If you are doing something that you need to focus on, like studying or trying to learn something new, pick a classical or instrumental playlist.
Be Vigilant and Stay Ahead of the Slump
If you apply these principles you can stay ahead of the slump and avoid that lull in productivity that hits in the mid-afternoon. You don’t have to crash every afternoon, you can actually get a boost in the afternoon and crush the rest of your work day if you stay positive, move around, and make healthy choices with your diet and sleep. Go crush the slump!