5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Afternoon Energy

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You know all about that sluggish feeling between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m when you feel so tired that your head may hit your desk at any minute. Sometimes it’s a wave of fatigue that smacks you right in the face and other days it’s a dragging sleepiness holding on to you like a toddler around your leg. Some days are better than others, but the afternoon slump is a natural part of the human sleep cycle, which is driven by the circadian rhythm and sleep-wake homeostasis. If sleeping at (or under) your desk is not approved then here are some tips to boost your afternoon energy and crush the rest of your day.

Tip 1. The Power of Light

Photo by Kathryn Schwab

Use the power of light to your advantage. Researchers from the ULB Neurosciences Institute found that exposure to bright light during the post-lunch dip results in similar beneficial effects as a short nap on performance in the cognitive flexibility domain (aka. being able to make decisions and be productive). During this study the participants were exposed to bright blue light for 30 minutes.

In its natural form, your body uses blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles.  This is known as your circadian rhythm.  Blue light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase the feeling of well being.

Artificial sources of blue light from electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, and LED lights do not have the same energy boosting effect. Because they are shorter, blue wavelengths flicker more easily than longer, weaker wavelengths. Therefore, artificial blue light waves from computer screens and devices can potentially cause eyestrain, headaches, and mental fatigue.  So, if possible step away from your devices to give your eyes and your brain a break. 

Action Steps: Take a break and go for a walk outside, eat lunch outside, or just chat with friends in the sunshine. If you are unable to go outside, you could try using a Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp. With these types of lamps you won’t be directly looking at the lamp, so you will avoid the flickering and glare that comes with screen time from electronic devices. Also, make sure to turn off your artificial blue light devices at least two hours before bedtime (cell phones, computers, etc). Even dim light can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion.

Tip 2. Move at Least Once Every Hour

Photo by Juan Camilo Navia on Unsplash

Sitting like a statue at your desk for hours is not good for anyone. It can make you feel like nodding off, because your body associates stillness with going to sleep. Your body was made to move, so when it doesn’t get regular activity, you can experience mood issues, sluggishness, and tiredness.

Your core body temperature will also drop naturally in the afternoon that will make you want to snooze. Exercise will increase your body temperature and stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine (happy brain chemicals) that help you think clearly, improve your mood, and boost your energy. 

Take Action: Try standing up to stretch, walk around, or dance to some music at least once every hour. You could use a simple app like Stand Up! The Work Break Timer to remind yourself to stand up and take a break. A Fitbit will also remind you to get moving at the end of the hour if you don’t have enough steps.  For more tips, check out 5 Ways To Stay Active At A Desk Job by Emily Adams.

Tip 3. Eat Energy Boosting Foods

eat well for more afternoon energy

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

The post-lunch crash can be the result of an extra-full stomach or reactive hypoglycemia, where your blood sugar drops after eating, causing you to become tired, weak, and even lightheaded or anxious. Although it might not feel like it, your body also uses a fair amount of energy to digest the food you’ve just eaten.

Take Action. To help avoid a post-lunch crash:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Avoid sugary foods.
  • Eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Pack some high-protein snacks such as almonds or hard-boiled eggs to give you a boost when you need it.
  • Avoid eating too many foods high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-containing foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes boost the production of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which can boost our mood but also make us feel content and possibly sleepy.

Tip 4. Have More Fun

Have More Fun for more afternoon energy

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

Adulting all day can be exhausting. You may be in a routine that is causing mind-numbing boredom OR you are crazy busy with decision making and meetings. Your body registers boredom as tiredness and being crazy busy can be draining.  “The 24/7 push to be efficient and productive can wear you out physically and emotionally. Your brain needs downtime,” explains Alice Domar, Ph.D., director of The Mind-Body Center for Women’s Health at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Take action. So, what can you do? Build in fun things throughout your day. Open all email jokes and pass them on, flip through a magazine, call a friend, daydream, play a game, listen to new music, look at pictures of cute animals, grab a coloring book, skip down the hall, blow up some balloons and play with them, blow bubbles. Mini fun breaks can make your routine less routine and give you a well-deserved break.

Tip 5. Boost Energy with Meditation

meditate for more afternoon energy
Photo courtesy of Buddhify

One of my favorite ways to boost energy is meditation. After a session of guided meditation I feel well rested, less stressed, and energized. A study from the University of Waterloo found that practicing brief sessions of mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels.

In meditation, we are in a state of restful alertness that is extremely refreshing for the body and mind. As people stick with their meditation ritual, they notice that they are able to accomplish more while doing less. Instead of struggling so hard to achieve goals, they spend more and more time “in the flow” – aligned with universal intelligence that orchestrates everything.

Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Take action. There are tons of guided meditations. I literally just googled “guided meditation for energy” and there were 21,800,000 results! That seems overwhelming. My favorite guided meditation app is the Buddhify app.  Meditations are categorized by what you’re doing or how you’re feeling (ex. Walking, Stress & Difficult Emotion, Work Break, Going to Sleep, Waking Up, etc.). You can also select which one fits into your schedule (the meditations range from 4 minutes to 30 minutes). I also frequently use Insight Timer which has 34 meditation playlists for sleep, relaxation, anxiety and mindfulness.

I hope these tips help you to boost your afternoon energy and crush your day! Please share the goodness and click on an image to pin or share on Instagram and Facebook and hashtag it #tonsofgoodness. Thank you!

Wishing you tons of goodness,


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