It’s 3 p.m. and you begin to feel the afternoon slump; you may feel tired, sluggish, have difficulty concentrating, and aren’t sure how you’re going to get through the remainder of the work day. Most office workers are familiar with this feeling—when your energy level dips along with your motivation.
There are lots of creative suggestions for how to fight afternoon fatigue: from deep breathing exercises to getting up and taking a brisk walk to eating a healthy snack. All of these suggestions can help beat the dreaded afternoon slump, but there are certain snacks that may help you power through better than others. So, before you grab that third or fourth cup of coffee, consider trying these tips and trying one of these pick-me-up snacks the next time you find yourself drifting off in the afternoon.
Sometimes feeling sluggish in the afternoon may signal that you’re dehydrated. Skip the coffee or soft drinks and drink water instead, and take a quick walk around the building, or outside if you’re able. This may be enough to alleviate fatigue and help you concentrate for the rest of your work day. Keep a water bottle on your desk and continue to sip on it for the rest of the day.
If you’ve properly hydrated and are still feeling tired, a healthy snack with a mix of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates may do the trick. This combination of nutrients is important for providing energy. You’ll want to avoid snacks that are pure refined carbs, such as chips, pretzels, candy bars, or most of the items that you would typically grab when the hunger hits in between meals. While these types of snacks will give you a temporary energy boost, you’ll then crash again about an hour later. With snacks that combine protein, fiber, and healthy carbs, you’ll get the sustained energy you need to stay motivated for the rest of the afternoon.
Bring one of these snacks from home if your office doesn’t have them available:
- String cheese with whole grain crackers
- Veggies with hummus (such as baby carrots or celery)
- Peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread
- Cottage cheese with berries and nuts
- Fruit with nut butter (such as apple and peanut butter or a banana with almond butter)
- Greek yogurt with berries and nuts
- Raw nuts, dried fruit, and string cheese
Lunch Smart and Avoid the Slump
One way to avoid the afternoon slump is to be mindful of what you eat for lunch. Going out with co-workers to a Mexican restaurant and filling up on chips and salsa and other refined carbohydrates is tempting but also a sure-fire way to guarantee an afternoon crash. Choose lunches that are high in protein and healthy fats, and try to limit simple carbs and sugar as much as possible. Lunches that won’t leave you feeling sluggish later include protein-rich salads, vegetable pasta with protein, “fittatas,” or sandwiches made with deli meat and cheese on whole grain bread piled with fresh veggies (skip the French fries and chips as sides and opt for fresh fruit instead).