Everyone feels it. The afternoon slowly drags by, your energy drops and you have trouble maintaining your focus. While this isn’t uncommon, our initial reaction, a trip to the coffee pot or vending machine, actually hurts rather than helps. Here are some suggestions to beating the afternoon slump.
Coffee: say it isn’t so!
If you’re like me, when 3 PM rolls around I head to the kitchen to get my coffee fix for the afternoon. However, as reported in Runnersworld, PhD Steven Miller explains why biologically, coffee may actually do more harm than good when had in the late afternoon. In the mornings, Miller states, our cortisol is actually the highest. Cortisol is not just the stress hormone; it is also correlated to our alertness levels. Miller suggests that the most effective time to drink coffee is between 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM. Research from the Journal of Sleep Medicine suggests that the coffee in the afternoon will not only have limited effects, but that the level of caffeine present in coffee will actually make it harder to sleep that night. But there is a solution to the need for caffeine. Instead of coffee in the afternoon try switching to green tea. Green tea has less caffeine so you will be able to fall asleep but still enough to give you the extra energy boost!
Step back from that computer screen:
According to University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Llevas, when you take a break, you are deactivating and reactivating your brain, which allows you to stay focused. He suggests that brief mental breaks actually cause an increase in productivity and focus. Staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time can cause eye strain and headaches. Taking a break avoids this strain and gives you an energy boost. So- when you feel your eyes glaze over and mind start to wander, take a step back and take a break!
Have a snack:
Yes! It’s okay to get snacking in the afternoon. Healthy snacks will help your body reboot but snacks high in fat and sugar not only hurt your waistline, they also make us sleepy and have low energy. Step away from the vending machine and put that Twinkie down! Here are some healthy alternatives suggested by Nicole Maftoum, a clinical Dietitian as reported in Business Insider, that will be kind to your mind and body.
- Almonds are a great source of protein, healthy fat and have 9 essential nutrients.
- Satisfy the craving for sweets with fresh fruit. Fruit is packed full of vitamins, minerals and taste good too!
- The brain gets a majority of its energy from glucose. Try a dry cereal with a low glycemic index like bran flakes. Foods with a low glycemic index will release a slow and steady supply of glucose into the blood stream which not only optimizes brain power, but also slow down the sugary cravings!
- Apples and Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter). Apples provide an ample amount of carbohydrates and fiber while Peanut Butter is full of healthy fat and protein. This snack gives you an energy boost and stabilizes your sugar levels.
Turn Up the Tunes!
As reported in CNN, music can help you focus. Peter Quily, an adult Deficit Disorder coach said that music can actually increase the dopamine levels in your brain, which in turn helps you feel awake and focused. In a study in the Journal of Music Therapy, background music actually improves your mood and enhances perception while working. This study also proved that listening to your favorite music actually lowers tension! So tune out that annoying coworker, plug in your headphones and get back to work!