The yawn. The heavy eyelids. The drooping shoulders. The glazed-over eyes. All telltale signs of the dreaded afternoon slump.
Many people just struggle through it or drink insane amounts of coffee to stay awake. But you don't have to do either.
Although afternoon slumps are a normal part of our bodies' natural rhythms, there are quick and easy tricks you can use to feel as energized and productive after lunch as you did before.
1) As soon as you feel the slump coming on, take a few minutes to do some deep, focused breathing. Not only does deep breathing lower the amount of harmful stress hormones in your system, it also improves focus, attention, and concentration.
2) Sit up straight. Poor posture forces your muscles to work harder, which uses up more of your energy reserves. So the better your posture, the less tired you should feel.
3) Get moving. Movement gets your blood circulating, which keeps you more alert. So whenever possible, save your errands or your deliveries until after lunch. You also can try standing up (and even stretching) while you're on the phone.
4) Play some upbeat music. Bright, cheerful music can not only lift your mood and reduce your fatigue, it can also improve your concentration, attention, and in some cases your productivity. (Just make sure it's not so loud or so jarring that it's distracting.)
5) Let the sunshine in.
Open your blinds, or get two for the price of one by taking a quick brisk walk outside on a sunny day. We often hear about the damaging effects of the sun, but in the right doses, sunlight can have some very positive effects, one of which is to lift spirits and improve energy levels. And if you don't work in a place that has windows, or if you live in a location that doesn't have an abundance of sunlight, that's okay. Consider getting a light box that mimics natural light. Light boxes have been found to positively affect mood in ways similar to that of natural light.
Overall sleep patterns can also affect the severity of afternoon slumps. For some quick tips on how to consistently get a good night's sleep, see Has Sleep Fallen to the Bottom of Your Priority List?
© 2011 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved
Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout (Prometheus Books, 2011).