Sometimes just getting through the last few hours of work is more difficult than coming in early on a Monday. The fluorescent lights seem brighter, your eyes get heavier and your to-do list seems impossible to finish.
Welcome to the dreaded afternoon crash. There are many reasons people feel unbearably tired around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. Even people employed by some of the best companies to work for feel sluggish every now and then. Fortunately, there are some easy remedies.
Get some sunshine. Sunlight is one of the main sources of vitamin D, which is responsible for helping your bones absorb calcium, muscles move, nerves send messages and your immune system fight off diseases. You need about five to 30 minutes of sun exposure daily, depending on the time of year and your skin type. Aim to take a break during lunch or when you feel yourself getting tired
Grab some caffeine. Green tea is a great alternative to coffee when you feel yourself getting drowsy. Aside from caffeine, green tea offers antioxidants and nutrients that are believed to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. Be careful not to overdo it, though – too much caffeine can make it difficult for you to get a good night’s sleep.
Talk to your doctor about vitamins. Supplements such as Vitamin B are great ways to boost your energy level naturally, but you should always consult your physician before adding any vitamins to your routine.
Take a lunchtime nap. This is especially helpful if you work close to your home and can relax in your bed instead of your car. A 15- or 20-minute catnap is one of the easiest ways to catch a second wind. Just make sure to do it during your lunch break. Your boss probably won’t appreciate you sleeping on the job!
Head to the gym. Some people find that working out gives them a better energy boost than resting. Look for gyms or even a YMCA near your office to visit on your lunch break. Fitting in about 20 minutes of cardio each day will stave off the afternoon drag and keep you in good shape.
Have a non-work related conversation. Surrounding yourself with work is one of the easiest ways to enhance your afternoon drag. Instead of struggling to power through, take a break and have a five-minute conversation with your friend across the office. This will give you a chance to stretch a little bit and give your brain a rest. When you return to your desk, you should feel more energized.
Have a (healthy) snack. Many people think giving themselves a sugar-high will help them battle through their exhaustion, but it can actually make the problem worse. Instead, opt for high-protein snacks such as a turkey and cheese roll-up or yogurt with fruit and almonds.
Stay hydrated. The amount of water (not soda or coffee) you drink has a major effect on how well your body can power through the day. Dehydration causes your blood to thicken, which makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to your organs. Essentially, you make yourself tired by not drinking enough. Aim for at least eight glasses during the workday, or one per hour.
Watch your diet. What you eat for breakfast and dinner has just as much impact on your workday as what you eat at the office. A good rule of thumb is to eat a breakfast with protein, complex carbs and a healthy fat. A simple meal of scrambled eggs and whole grain toast with peanut butter will give your body the foundation it needs to stay alert all day. The same goes for dinner. Chicken or fish with a side of vegetables will keep your body fueled throughout the night, meaning you won’t wake up starving and overeat.
Mix it up. Another energy drainer comes from struggling through the same task with no end in sight. Instead of trying to knock out a big project all at once, split it up into small parts and work on it a little each day. This puts less stress on you and allows you to challenge your brain, which will keep you more alert.
Get enough sleep. The amount of sleep an adult needs is highly individualized, but generally you need anywhere from seven to nine hours a night. Don’t cheat yourself, because studies show it has real effects on your job performance. The National Sleep Foundation says even slight sleep deprivation can result in decreased short-term memory, poor performance on new or complex tasks and difficulty paying attention.