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Beat the 3 p.m. Slump

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

We all hit that difficult part of the afternoon when our energy dips, our concentration flags, and it feels like we’re not going to be able to stay awake until the end of the workday without crawling under the desk to take a nap. And not sleeping well the night before just compounds the problem.

At times like this, we reach for a cup of coffee, a can of soda or a candy bar to help us perk up. Unfortunately, we often wind up paying for our caloric quick fix with a bad sugar crash later.

There are healthier ways to beat the 3 p.m. slump. Here are some suggestions for keeping your inner engine purring steadily until the commute home.

Move Around

“When I hit that sleepy part of the day, I try to resist going straight for the coffee pot, and get up from my desk and take a walk outside instead,” says Aubyn Peterson, administrative assistant for the Miss USA Pageant. Peterson finds that simply getting up, moving around and experiencing a change of scenery really helps her wake up.

If you can, schedule your active errands for that time of day. “Part of my job involves dropping by the theaters and picking up tickets, and a walk on Broadway always seems to give me energy,” says Richard Ogawa, a sales and special events assistant for Broadway On and Off, a Broadway group sales organization based in New York City.

Laugh a Little

“If I don’t have time to step out of the office, I get up from my desk for a few minutes and have a laugh with my coworkers,” Peterson says.

Ogawa agrees that laughter is some of the best work-slump medicine. “Smiling always perks me up,” he says.

Office Yoga

Lori Wiley, a certified yoga instructor and administrative assistant for HER Real Living, recommends doing a little rejuvenating yoga at your desk to battle the yawns. Here’s Wiley’s favorite pick-me-up:

While sitting at your desk:

  • Raise your arms straight up above your head.
  • Flap your hands really fast.
  • Breathe in and out quickly.Do this for as long as you can manage — or until your coworkers notice.

    Eat Right

    Your diet can make a big difference in your energy level throughout the workday. One of the best remedies for the 3 p.m. slump is eating breakfast.

    “Eating a good breakfast boosts your concentration and revs your energy,” according to Susie Michelle Cortight’s article, “Eating for Energy: A Simple Meal-by-Meal Guide to Managing Your Mood with Food.”

    According to Cortight, you can keep your blood sugar on an even keel with complex carbohydrates, and you should avoid refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and white sugar. These have a high glycemic index, which can cause spikes and dips in your blood-sugar levels.

    • Breakfast: For a power breakfast, Cortight advises going with natural whole-grain breads and cereals with a low-fat protein added, such as yogurt, cottage cheese or skim milk. The right complex carbohydrates provide your brain and muscles with the steady flow of the energy they need, she says.
    • Lunch: Cortight suggests a lunch that’s low in carbohydrates and should include foods like low-fat cheese, fish, lean meat or poultry. According to her article, “carbs can increase the amount of seratonin in the brain and may cause that sleepy feeling. Protein can actually raise energy levels by increasing brain chemicals called catecholamines.”
    • Snacks: Snacking is a good way to pick up plummeting energy levels. Eating every few hours helps your body use its fuel more efficiently, stimulates your metabolism and keeps your energy flow constant — but only if you reach for the right kind of fuel. For a midday snack, try fruits and vegetables instead of candy bars, which are laden with simple sugars and will bring on fluctuating and erratic energy levels. For a late-afternoon snack, try a lean protein, like low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, a lean meat or peanut butter with a few crackers.
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