Are you one of those people who hit an afternoon energy slump at 2 or 3 p.m.? You know—the brain fog sets in, your attention is wandering and your focus has completely disappeared.
What you really want to do is go take a nap. You’re not alone!
Our Circadian rhythms may be to blame, but that doesn’t solve the challenge of staying awake and powering through the rest of the afternoon.
Try these tips to beat the afternoon slump — without a jolt of caffeine.
Start the day off right
With a healthy breakfast. Many people tell me they’re rushed in the morning, so they grab coffee & some carbs, such as a granola bar, muffin or pastry.
This combination will pick you up for an hour or two, but be ready for an energy crash before you get to lunch.
Processed carbohydrates first thing in the morning sets off a carb roller coaster (eat carbs-feel satisfied for an hour—eat carbs, etc.) all day long, and especially for women over 40.
Instead, add a dose of protein to your breakfast. Protein will give you more “staying power” — feeling full and satisfied for several hours.
For most men and women, breakfast should be about 300-400 calories (very active women may need more). Try these healthy options for starters:
- Yogurt + nuts + berries
- Whole wheat toast + almond butter + milk
- Scrambled Egg with spinach on a corn tortilla + nuts
Lots of water that is…Sleepiness and headaches can be signs that you’re not getting enough fluids. And if your body is telling you it’s thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated.
The solution? Consistently drinking water throughout the day is best, but many men and women tell me they’re bored with drinking plain water.
I suggest adding a slice of lemon or lime or pour a glass of sparkling, calorie-free flavored water to perk up your afternoon.
Get a plant for your office or work space
If you are not able to go outside, or it is too cold, bring the outdoors inside.
There are many plants you can find that are inexpensive and low maintenance. Just ask your local nursery for recommendations.
Greenery is not only refreshing to look at; it gives off a great source for mental clarity: good old oxygen.
What’s for Lunch?
The first question I ask my clients who complain about afternoon fatigue is, “What do you eat for lunch?”
A large lunch, no lunch or a lunch loaded with carbohydrates can wreak havoc on blood sugar for most women over 50 and leads to fatigue.
Instead, create a lunch that includes 1/2 of your plate vegetables, ¼ of your plate protein and ¼ of your plate fruit or grains.
And most importantly, avoid sweet drinks and desserts at lunch. Sugar will zap your afternoon energy more than any other foods.
Set a goal and/or reward
If you have three hours left at work and it seems like the day has already dragged on for an eternity, make a game out of it.
Set a goal of what tasks you will complete by the end of the day and if you finish them, give yourself a treat to celebrate your accomplishments.
Get Up and Go
Personally, this tip is a day-changer for me. If you spend most of your day sitting, then this strategy is a MUST for you!
Taking short breaks frequently during the day to stretch, walk around, climb some stairs and move enough to get your blood pumping can make a huge difference in your energy level in the afternoon and all day long.
So, If your schedule allows it, take a mid-day trip to the gym for some aerobic exercise.
If that’s not possible, make time for a 15 minute walk around the building or in the neighborhood to boost your energy by breathing in some fresh air and getting your blood pumping.
If you have meetings scheduled in the afternoon, take them on the road — make it a walking meeting whenever possible.
Another option is to move while you work. If you’re talking on the phone and can walk while talking, do it.
If you’re working on the computer, find a place where you can stand and work. These changes in scenery as well as changing positions, gets the blood circulating and helps increase energy and focus.
I know, this is a “no-brainer”, but not really because it’s much easier said than done for most women in the peri-menopause and menopause phases of their lives. This is something men do not have to worry about.
Getting enough sleep is vital to maintaining energy throughout the day, so make sure you’ve got most or all of these strategies in place to maximize your sleep:
- Establish a regular bedtime routine with unwind time
- Turn off all screens (TV, cell phone & computer) at least 60 minutes before going to bed
- Get a new mattress if it’s more than 10 years old
- Exercise early in the day
- Stop all caffeine by 3pm
- Practice relaxation techniques: reading, meditation, listening to calming music, yoga stretches, or deep breathing
- No alcohol after 7pm
- Make your bedroom a cool, dark place. Setting the temperature for 60-70 degrees, using heavy curtains or black out shades or wearing an eye mask to block light can help with a deeper sleep.