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Six ways to beat the afternoon slump

Lucy Tallick

by Lucy Tallick, Head of Wellbeing
on 26 April 2016 about Wellbeing at Work

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5 min read

You know that feeling when you arrive at work in the morning, full of energy and positivity ready to tackle the world. Well, imagine that could stay with you all day long.

But just look around your office, take a trip onto the shop floor or get out amongst your team after 3 p.m. in the afternoon, and that energy is gone.

It’s that mid afternoon “slump” a well known scientifically proven lull.

Concentration diminishes, motivation floats out of the window and sometimes we even battle to keep our eyes open. Even the simplest tasks seem impossible and take us 3x longer than they should.

But fear not, there are ways to beat it when it sneaks up on you and ways to prevent it long term. Here’s a few tips you can try:

Stay hydrated.

Dehydration can lead to tiredness, headaches and lack of concentration. A familiar friend of the 3 p.m. slump. Help keep it at bay by keeping hydrated throughout the day. Try keeping a glass on your desk and making yourself drink a glass of water an hour; approximately 8 hours of work = 8 glasses of water a day! Boom! Hydration done. If you’re having trouble remembering, try setting reminders on your calendar, or even just a bright Post-It note on your desk might do the trick. Not only that but that leads me nicely to my second tip...

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Get moving.

Those of us with office jobs can be found sat staring at our screens often for 3 hours at a time. It’s not only a concentration killer, but also comes with other health concerns such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, back pain and weight gain. Not only a killer for concentration but a whole host of other health concerns. Try the 5 in 55 rule, making sure you get up and stretch your legs for 5 minutes every 55 minutes. That’s when you can grab a glass of water or take a step outside.

Breathe.

Often we are cooped up in our offices all day long and so by 3 p.m, we have been breathing in the same stale or air conditioned air for close to six hours. Try scheduling a walking meeting at peak “slump” time. The fresh air will not only clear your head; helping you to concentrate better for that meeting and your final sprint of the day. But the activity will count as part of our 150 minutes of physical activity per week and can be used as a great way to hold 121’s and walking meetings.

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Ditch the sugary snacks.

Only too often the first thing we grab when the tiredness creeps in is a chocolate bar from the vending machine, or a donut from the coffee shop next door. Seems good, but it can actually result in us feeling worse as the big boost in sugar is then followed by a slump in energy as your blood sugar plummets. Try and go for a more sustainable energy source such as nuts or seeds, which are a great healthy snack. Remember i’m talking about natural seeds and nuts - not the dry roasted or sugar-coated kind!  Have these before 2 p.m, and you could avoid your slump altogether.

Lunch smarter.  

Take a real break at lunch. Managers, this is where you need to take a lead. If you are creating a culture where it is only too common to work through lunch and grab a sandwich at your desk then you are helping to reduce the productivity in your team during the afternoon. Step away from your screen at lunchtime, get outside, take a walk or at least eat your lunch in a different environment. Too often I am told that we’re too busy, we’ve got targets to meet or other excuses that make it too easy to stay sat in front of our PC’s all day long. Lunchtime is a great time to introduce some physical activity with a walking club or lunchtime yoga or meditation.

Sleep soundly.

Set yourself up to succeed and make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep. It’s reported that over 40% of us are not getting the recommended number of hours sleep to perform at best and too many of us are finding it increasingly harder to get “good sleep” when we finally do make it to bed. Lack of sleep has profound effects on our ability to perform. Sleep is as crucial to our health and wellbeing as diet and exercise. It’s no wonder we’re feeling a bit fatigued mid afternoon. Keep in mind that the right amount of “recommended sleep” is different for everyone. (We’ll cover that in another post.)

All of these things take a little time to get right. So how about changing just one thing in your team today and if you know that slump is coming; try planning for it. If you know you're at your best at the start of the day, tackle all your tough meetings and dreaded tasks in the morning, leaving the easier to handle and bits you love about your job until the afternoon. Sadly there is no quick fix, but little steps in the right direction can make BIG differences.

Give one thing a go today and Good Luck! Tell me, how are you handling your mid-afternoon crash?

Author

Lucy Tallick

Lucy Tallick
Reward Gateway

Lucy Tallick has a background in wellbeing strategy for corporations, as well as time spent as a fitness coach and trainer. Lucy is our UK-based wellbeing expert at Reward Gateway.

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