I’ve loved working from home for many reasons: my two fluffy coworkers (my pets), comfy clothes, access to a full kitchen with all my favorite snacks, and no commute. But my favorite part about working from home was being able to take a quick snooze when the dreaded midday slump hit every day. Even if it was just 20 minutes, it made such a huge difference to help get me through the rest of the day.
Now that I’m back in the office, I miss this WFH perk the most (aside from snuggling with my cats all day), and I find myself heavily relying on a third or fourth cup of coffee each afternoon to keep me going. But there are some days when even coffee isn’t enough to wake me up, so I’ve been trying out other natural ways to help fight that 3 p.m. energy slump. If you also find yourself in need of a midday pick-me-up, read on for the six methods I’ve been using to feel energized in the afternoon. Just an FYI: These tips are meant to ease the occasional lack of energy or fatigue that comes in the afternoon from time to time, but if you’re experiencing extreme fatigue on an ongoing basis, you should consult your doctor.
1. Get moving
Thanks to Legally Blonde, we all know that “exercise gives you endorphins” and “endorphins make you happy.” According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the release of endorphins due to exercise can create activity in the brain that can help keep you awake. Plus, exercise raises your body’s core temperature, which signals to the body’s clock that it’s supposed to be awake. While you may not be able to lift weights or complete a full HIIT workout in your cubicle, there are a few ways you can incorporate exercise into your workday. Try practicing a quick yoga flow, pedaling on an under-desk elliptical, or even just taking a walk around the office. No matter what, get up and move however you can to wake up the body and get more energy.
2. Drink water
Dehydration can cause all sorts of issues: headaches, bad breath, and–you guessed it– fatigue. According to Healthline, not drinking enough water can cause fatigue because dehydration leads to less blood flow to your brain, causing drowsiness. Some studies have shown that even mild dehydration can negatively affect mood. Stay consistently hydrated all day every day, but if you find yourself hitting an afternoon slump, try reaching for a glass of water to increase hydration levels rather than a cup of coffee. If you struggle with your daily water intake (guilty), try infusing your water with fruit, using a 64-ounce water jug, or having a glass of water with every meal.
3. Get outside
Daily lunchtime walks were another benefit of working from home, and I loved them so much that I’ve actually incorporated them into my in-office routine too. Aside from being a nice change of scenery from my desk, Business Insider reported that spending time outside can help you beat the feelings of fatigue and increase serotonin levels thanks to vitamin D. Spending time in nature has also been shown to help with concentration and problem solving, which we could all use more of in a workday. If you’re in the city, try taking a walk around the block or eating your lunch outside to get some fresh air and soak up the sun.
4. Have a snack
…but not just any snack. If you’ve ever experienced an energy crash after a sugary treat, you know that not all foods are created equal. Reach for complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and beans paired with proteins like cheese, nuts, or hard-boiled eggs. These nutritious snacks will keep you fuller for longer for sustained energy, meaning they’ll refuel your body for the rest of your workday.
5. Try aromatherapy
When I think of aromatherapy, I typically think of using calming scents like vanilla or lavender to unwind from a long day, but they can have invigorating properties too. According to Healthline, peppermint oil is known to increase alertness, rosemary can help with focus and brain functioning, and citrus oil (specifically lemon, lime, and wild orange) can improve mood. Other energizing oils include bergamot, cinnamon, eucalyptus, frankincense, French basil, ginger root, juniper berry, lemongrass, pine, and thyme. Take advantage of these invigorating oils by setting up a small diffuser in your office or rolling them on your wrists whenever you feel your energy begin to fade.
6. Start something new
My afternoon slumps are the worst when I’ve been working on the same task for too long. Taking a break from your current task—especially if you’re working on the computer—can help prevent eye strain and refocus your mind on a new task. I personally like to check in with my coworkers, write a to-do list, or make a phone call to help switch gears and stimulate my mind by changing the way I’m using my brain. Harvard Business Review suggested tackling your more in-depth or decision-making tasks when you have the most energy and saving simpler tasks like cleaning out your inbox for later in the day when you’re feeling more tired.