If you find yourself flagging in the afternoon, here are some top tips on how to avoid the dreaded afternoon slump and help you power on to the evening.
Postprandial Dip: If you are not eating a well-balanced lunch with some complex carbs for energy and some protein, fat and fibre to balance out potential sugar spikes, you may well experience what's known as a ‘postprandial dip’. Afterall, if you're not taking in the right kind of fuel, it's no surprise that the afternoon's a bit of a struggle.
Aim for a palm-sized portion of protein (meat, fish, chicken, eggs, tofu), a palm-sized portion of complex carbohydrates (wholegrain pasta or bread, beans or lentils) and two palm-sized portions of colourful fruit and vegetables (eat as wide a variety as possible). It’s also beneficial to include some healthy fats in the form of nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocado or perhaps olive oil in a dressing.
Hydration: According to sleep.org, dehydration contributes significantly to fatigue, so keep a water bottle handy throughout the day to ensure you are topping up your fluids. Another helpful habit to adopt is having a cup of invigorating peppermint tea mid-afternoon to improve energy levels.
Exercise: It may seem paradoxical but expending energy via exercise can actually help you feel more energetic. And you probably only need to invest 10 minutes or so to get the energy boost you need. A brisk walk round the block should do the trick (natural daylight is also good for making you feel more alert), or do a few rounds of sun salutations in the living room.
Circadian Rhythms: Studies suggest that due to the natural circadian rhythms that govern our cycles of alertness, the maximum time we can concentrate for is 90 minutes before needing a 10 minute break - perfect for a quick walk outside. Or, some other distraction that shifts your attention from what you have been focused on the last 90 minutes. Why not do some deep breathing? Therapists say that regular controlled breathing can help combat stress, sharpen your mind and keep your brain in tip top condition. One technique suggested is called ‘365’ wherein you breathe six cycles per minute, inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds, at least three times a day, for five minutes at a time and then repeat for all 365 days of the year.
Healthy Snack: If you can't resist a snack, don't be tempted by sugary cake or biscuits mid-afternoon, instead go for good quality dark chocolate. The cocoa polyphenols have also been shown to reduce stress, especially in women, so try having a couple of squares as an afternoon snack, ideally along with some nuts to keep blood sugar levels stable.