We all know the feeling. That mid-afternoon slump when the computer screen starts to go blurry as our eyes close and our bodies slide further south in the chair. When the brain goes fuzzy and the sun through the window feels really cozy and a nap seems like the best idea right now.
Unfortunately, you are still several hours away from clock-off time and you have a bit more work you need to get through.
Now is not the time to channel a cat as your spirit animal. Now you need to tap into some hidden energy reserves and plow on through till home time.
Why do we suffer from the mid-afternoon slump? And what can we do to help it?
And what are the best healthy afternoon snacks to get you through?
Why do we suffer from a Mid-Afternoon Slump?
There are quite a few reasons why people suffer from the mid-afternoon slump. We have covered some of the main ones below.
We sit still for too long
People are not natural sedentary beings, yet these days we live vastly sedentary lives. Most people work sitting down in one place such as in front of a computer or driving a car.
We sit for hours at a time when in terms of best health, we should be getting up every hour for a stretch and a walk around.
If you sit still for a long time your body naturally thinks it’s time to sleep – so one of the best ways to keep it awake is to get up and move around every so often.
We can’t focus on one thing for too long
Our bodies are not programmed to be still for long periods, and our minds and senses do not cope well with maintaining focus on the same stimuli for long periods. You need to mix things up across the day, as well as recognize when your body and brain work at their best (and when the slump is going to hit.)
Our circadian rhythm has highs and lows
Your body clock moves in cycles across the day where your energy goes through peaks and troughs. If you can predict the slump then you can head it off with movement, hydration, a change in activity or some healthy and nourishing fuel.
Our body temperature drops
If you sit still your body temperature drops slightly, which again indicates that it’s time to go to sleep. Warm your body up again by getting out in the sun or just by moving around a little.
We need to refuel and rehydrate
Your tank is running low – you need either water, fuel or both. Your body is mostly made up of water, and across the workday, your water stores will deplete, which makes you sluggish.
How can we manage the Mid-Afternoon Slump?
Avoid Sugar and Caffiene
Your first instinct might be to reach for caffeine and sugar – the big two superpowers of energy creation.
This will work briefly, and then the slump will invariably return (and possibly bring with it some friends!). Both caffeine and sugar will give your body a boost for a short period, but your system will use the energy from these quickly, and then you will need more again.
In fact, one of the big causes of the mid-afternoon slump could be a carbohydrate-rich lunch that has now worn off. If you have eaten sandwiches, pies or pasta for lunch then your body is probably craving a sugar-laden hit right now.
Reach for Protein
You are better to give yourself protein and slow-release forms of energy for your mid-afternoon snack, which will gradually boost your body across a longer period of time.
While sugar and carbohydrates do wake you up, protein has been shown to stop you from feeling sleepy in the first place. If you feel like you need sugar, reach for protein instead.
Top Up Water Stores
That mid-afternoon caffeine hit also works as a diuretic, which means it encourages your body to create urine, which in turn may reduce the amount of water in your system. You are better to replenish a slumpy body with water than tea or coffee at this time.
Mid-Afternoon Snacks that are the best to fight the Slump
- Almond-milk and fruit smoothie
- A handful of nuts, seeds, and roasted chickpeas
- Vegetable sticks and hummus or guacamole
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Peanut butter and whole grain crackers
- Brown rice sushi
- Slices of thin turkey wrapped with cheese around cucumber sticks
- Greek yogurt or ricotta cheese
- A can of tuna and wholegrain crackers
- Green, vegetable-rich juices
Non-Food Related Ways to fight the Slump
You don’t need to reach for food to help you combat the mid-afternoon slump – there is a lot you can do to boost your energy stores without eating.
Try some of the following:
- Stand up and walk around the office
- Have a big drink of ice cold water
- Go to the bathroom and splash some water on your face and the back of your neck
- Take a trip up the stairs to visit a friend on another floor
- Get outside into the fresh air for ten minutes
- Do some stretches in your seat, such as stretching your neck and shoulders
- Listen to some music that brightens your mood
Try a Power Nap
Not many workplaces support this yet, but the more enlightened ones are now recognizing that a nap is the way to go. Modern workplaces are more frequently giving their employees the opportunity to have a short power nap in the mid-afternoon can be the best thing for their focus and productivity.