Already, in Philadelphia, we are coming to the end of our first heat wave of the year. The dogs days of summer seem to have arrived yet, technically, it’s still spring. The hot days are often the ones that bring on the afternoon head nods (or the winter days when the building has the heat turned up to broiler level).
The afternoon blahs got you feeling fatigued and lethargic? Can’t find the energy you need to focus? Need a pot of coffee just to make it through the afternoon? It happens to all of us sometimes. I exercise frequently. I eat well. My metabolism should be running high, but still I get tired in the afternoons, on occasion.
If you suffer from a lack of energy during the workday what can you do to combat the fatigue and power through your day like a champ? Try some of the strategies below. Pick options that you can commit to over the long-term and start enjoying a more productive and energized day at the office. You may even inspire others to become more invigorated too.
Make time breaks and movement
Take a 15-minute break and get outside for a walkabout. While outside your body will absorb vitamin D, which can improve your mood and increase your energy.
Take a five-minute break every hour. At a bare minimum stand up and stretch to get your blood flowing.
Breaks are crucial to distracting your mind from work and the change in movement will increase blood circulation providing oxygen and nutrients to organs and muscles. Increased blood circulation will help keep you mentally alert and prevent muscle fatigue.
Start an exercise program
Exercise in the morning. This will get your day started on a positive and active note. In the summer, mornings are the coolest time of the day for vigorous exercise. This will set the tone for the rest of the day and free up your evenings for other activities. Your workout needn’t be extraordinary to have positive benefits to you throughout the day. Find a routine that works for you and is sustainable.
Pay attention to nutrition
Drink water! Carbonated water is fine, but flat water will provide better hydration. Drink at least 4 to 6 cups per day. Don’t wait until you are thirsty, keep some water nearby at all times. Too little water can lead to mental fatigue and muscle cramps.
Don’t skip breakfast. Lack of time is no excuse. Make time or eat some healthy raw food such as fruits and vegetables. This will fuel you through the morning hours and prevent overeating at lunch, which can often lead to increased sleepiness in the afternoon.
Eat healthful food. Candy and other sugary foods will provide an energy spike causing you to crash quickly thereafter and feeling hungry again. Choose high protein snacks that will leave you feeling satiated longer and provide extended energy. For quick energy eat fruits that provide natural sugars as well as fiber. Eating small but frequent healthy snacks can keep your metabolism revved up all day.
Avoid eating heavy meals at work. These will cause drowsiness shortly after your meal. Again, eating healthy and balanced meals will provide extended energy and quality calories for your body.
Infrequently, for a quick but short boost, consumption of highly caffeinated beverages can provide the fix you require. However, artificially maintaining an energy level is not an acceptable and sustainable long-term plan. If caffeine is a requisite, try some options with reduced caffeine such as green tea, yerba mate, or dark chocolate. Mint tea can be refreshing without the caffeine.
Make some changes to your work environment
Stop sitting so much. The modern office is one of the greatest evils in the modern world. Stand up to perform your work as much as possible. Switch to a specialized stool or exercise ball for a seat that encourages improved posture and proper breathing.
Decrease the temperature. Keep you work area as chilly as you can while remaining comfortable.
Use scents to awaken yourself. Place some essential oils at your desk or bring in some fresh herbs like mint or rosemary and put them in a vase with water.
Stay mentally sharp
Learn the benefits of a power nap. Use part of your lunch break for a quick snooze. To boost alertness upon waking drink a small cup of coffee before you nap. Caffeine requires 20-30 minutes to really kick in which incidentally is the perfect amount of time for a power nap.
Set aside approximately 30 to 60 minutes of quiet time in your day. Let your brain reboot. Focus on deep breathing into your belly. Use this time to rest and recover.
Keep a positive mental attitude. Force it if you must, but stay committed to positivity. It will create a more alert brain and breed positive feedback that will motivate and energize you. The mind body connection is powerful. Let positive energy fuel your mind and healthy foods fuel your body.
Free your mind with positivity. Take a moment to make a list of things you are thankful for, look forward to, are proud of, etc. This simple exercise will remove you from your work for a moment and energize your mind and spirit.
Engage energized and positive individuals. The interaction will leave you revitalized. Better yet, be that person to others. You will reap the rewards while paying it forward.
If you have many tasks to do in your day, perform the tedious or boring tasks in the morning and save the more exciting or physical tasks for the afternoon. Physical activity increases circulation, which aids alertness.
Focus on one task; feeling overwhelmed by all your tasks is often cited as a cause of burnout. Put energy and presence into just the task at hand. Give the task the attention and weight it requires; this will improve you sense of accomplishment.
Let your music energize you. Select music that motivates you. Share music with coworkers, it will spread some joy and have you moving around the office.
Have a good laugh.
Try some of these suggestions on a regular basis and feel the improvement in your energy throughout the day. Find strategies that work for you and allow you to remain committed. Turn your newfound energy into increased productivity you and your company can be proud of.