9 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump That Have Nothing to Do with Coffee

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You woke up fairly bright-eyed, fueled up with a healthy breakfast, maybe squeezed in an energizing workout and then cruised through the morning with a decent amount of energy to spare.
Then came lunch.
There's something about the mid-day meal that seems to drain the energy reserves, leaving you feeling sluggish and sleepy. You might notice your productivity slowing down or screeching to a halt, maybe taking your motivation along with it. As the clock crawls toward 2 or 3 p.m., it could even become a struggle to keep your eyes open. But whether you're juggling work tasks, demanding kiddos or other responsibilities, you probably don't have the luxury of calling a "time-out" on life and crawling into bed for a nap.
Time for a trip to the coffee machine? Not necessarily. While it's fine to enjoy an occasional mug of that magical bean-derived elixir, there are other, healthier ways to pull yourself out of the afternoon slump.

Stick to a sleep schedule.

Your sleep habits are the biggest predictor of how much energy you'll have during the day. If you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day, and get the recommended eight hours of shut-eye, you'll be less likely to get groggy in the afternoon.

Eat a balanced diet.

Eating a filling breakfast and lunch will help keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. If you start the morning with a big cup of coffee and then grab a bag of chips from the vending machine around noon, you're setting yourself up for afternoon exhaustion. A filling, nutritious breakfast and a healthy lunch that features lean protein and non-starchy vegetables will help keep your energy levels from crashing later in the day.

Drink some citrus water.

You already know the benefits of hydration, but for an added energy boost, registered dietitian Ilana Muhlstein recommends making a pitcher or water bottle filled with ice water and a generous squeeze of orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit.
"The side effects of not staying hydrated include fatigue and false hunger, which is why so many people reach for sweets mid-afternoon," Muhlstein explains. "Drinking at least 16 ounces of cold, refreshing water will wake you up just enough to finish the day strong and make smarter food choices later."
The added citrus can also provide a boost of potassium and vitamin C, she adds. "Plus, many flavonoids unique to citrus fruits have been shown in studies to protect brain cells and improve cognitive function—just the boost you need toward the end of the day."

Get up and move.

When you find yourself slipping into that sleepy, post-lunch stupor, personal trainer Christel Oerum of Diabetes Strong says the best remedy is a quick walk. "Going for a walk and getting some fresh air not only works as an afternoon pick-me-up, but can also help digestion, improve insulin sensitivity and improve mood," she notes. In fact, a study showed that just 10 minutes of low-intensity exercise, such as walking or climbing stairs, can be more energizing than consuming 50 milligrams of caffeine.

Stretch away the sleepiness.

"Sitting at a desk all day is guaranteed to build up muscle tension, which affects you physically and mentally and drains your energy," notes LJ Kunkel, ACSM-certified personal trainer and creator of Fit Body Beats. "Take a few minutes every hour or two to stretch any tight areas, especially your neck and shoulders." 

Try some essential oils.

Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo swears by peppermint essential oils as a mid-day pick-me-up. She places a drop or two in the palm of each hand, rubs her hands together and then cups the hands and inhales for a boost of energy. "You can also blend a drop of peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil, like coconut or avocado or olive oil, and rub it on the back of the neck," she suggests. "Orange mixed with peppermint is also very energizing."

Listen to upbeat music.

When you're feeling sluggish, putting on your favorite up-tempo playlist can help energize you and increase your endurance. "Music has the ability to engage the body's sympathetic nervous system," says Oerum. "Auditory signals make us alert, and simply focusing on a piece of music can divert our attention and improve our mood."

Do some breathing exercises.

Not able to leave your desk or office? Liza Baker with Simply: Health Coaching recommends taking 10 minutes to sit comfortably, close your eyes and do some breathing exercises. "Simply breathe deeply through your nose, paying attention to the sensation of cool air coming in across your philtrum (the space between nose and mouth) and warmer air coming out," she says. "Or learn some more 'yogic' breathing exercises, which will leave you feeling calm yet energized."

Eat a healthy snack.

If you're starting to feel hungry, registered dietitian Chesley Amer recommends eating a healthy afternoon snack packed with protein and fiber to boost your energy throughout the afternoon. Some of her favorites include carrots and hummus, an apple with peanut butter or dry roasted edamame.
If you've tried all the traditional remedies to beat the afternoon slump and nothing seems to help, it's time to see your doctor to rule out possible conditions that can cause fatigue. And, of course, if you're lucky enough to have a spare few minutes and a dark, comfortable, quiet spot, a power nap can work wonders.

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CECELW 1/3/2021
i'd miss my coffee! haha Report
EVILCECIL 12/25/2020
Great ideas. Thanks. Report
USMAWIFE 12/19/2020
thanks Report
KELLYFOR110 12/17/2020
Love these ideas. I will be using the peppermint oil idea. I hope it works.
EEJAA70 12/17/2020
These are very helpful ideas. Report
BLDANCY 12/17/2020
Great tips! Report
Great Report
MAREE1953 12/17/2020
Will try the peppermint oil as working from home is a challenge! Report
RO2BENT 12/17/2020
Lately I've been having trouble sleeping past 6 hours Report
MUSICNUT 12/3/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
PATRICIAANN46 10/29/2020
Thank You.............. Report
PATBPRICE 10/28/2020
Great article -- very helpful tips. Report
WOUBBIE 8/12/2020
Most effective? Keep your blood sugar levels steady all day. That afternoon crash is usually your blood sugar coming down after a HUGE lunchtime surge. Eat protein at lunch and keep the carbs on the light side. Report
CECELW 8/7/2020
I always add a splash of lemon juice to my water Report
PLCHAPPELL 7/28/2020
Me - many days Report
SCHECK5 7/6/2020
Thank you Report
EVIE4NOW 6/20/2020
thanks Report
RAPUNZEL53 3/20/2020
Thanks Report
RO2BENT 3/20/2020
And maybe coffee too! Report
Did all that and still get the yawns about 3-3:30. Report
SUNSET09 3/9/2020
Good information, SparkFriends. Report
PATRICIA-CR 3/7/2020
I need to use most of these suggestions! Report
JUNETTA2002 3/6/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
CECTARR 3/6/2020
Thanks Report
Like the idea of the peppermint oil on the neck as a pick me up. Have never tried that. Report
MAREE1953 3/6/2020
I agree with most of these tips but not the tip to eat a snack when you are tired. Don't use food for improper reason. If your body needs sleep, give it rest IMHO Report
Thanks Report
Good Report
Thanks for the suggestions. Some of them I already do like listening to upbeat music. I love listening to music while I work, it makes doing the job more enjoyable. Report
Thanks Report
Sounds good Report
Thanks Report
Thanks Report
all good ideas Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
that is true. these are mostly for office people. Some days I am working at home and some days I am at my volunteer position where I never know when someone will walk in and I swing in to my demonstration mode. I am rarely in the same place when I hit a slump. It might be at 10:30am because I was up really early and had breakfast at 6am. Report
Most of these suggestions are based on you having an office job. I'm a school bus monitor and I can't just get up and walk around while the bus is moving. My "work area" has so many restrictions most of the blogs and articles on this subject don't help me at all. BUT, for those fortunate to have that nice office job the suggestions are great. Report
Thanks Report
thank you Report
Lord, please help me to understand. When I say thanks, the edit me, when others say the same thing, they get no edit. Report
thanks Report
I just thought the older I get the more I love naps, but I do get up at 4:30 am and run. Report
Thank you Report
Absolutely great Report
I need to try some of these. Report
Thank you for this article. I forget to drink water as often as I should. Report
Nice Report
Thanks! Report