Tips on Beating the Afternoon Slump: How Increasing Movement Can Help
By Makena Nixon, CPT, EP
Do you get a drowsy, foggy headed feeling when 2pm hits each day?
Its the classic mid-afternoon slump, you feel as if all of your energy suddenly vanished. Making it extremely challenging to concentrate on work or the task at hand, no matter how hard you try.
One of the best tricks that will help you recharge and be productive through the end of the day is EXERCISE. Don’t worry, there is not one single method or secret workout to combat that afternoon slump: it simply comes down to “JUST MOVE.”
One person might like doing a few downward facing dogs, or other yoga poses as a break from sitting. While someone else might take time to stretch his or her legs by walking to the bathroom or strolling up and down the halls visiting different co-workers. Whatever form of movement you choose, staying active gets the blood pumping fresh oxygen throughout the body- waking it up.
Let’s get moving so we can beat those pesky afternoon slumps:
The easiest solution is to stand up after sitting hours on end. Sitting leaves you feeling sluggish and is a one-way ticket to an afternoon crash. Therefore, as soon as you start to feel a bit lethargic, set up your standing desk and refrain from sitting for about an hour. If you don’t have a standing desk, you can set a reminder to stand up or go for a quick walk around the office once every 30-60 minutes.
Physical activity provides a number of health benefits for your body, including providing a huge dose of energy. Consider using your lunch break to go for a quick jog or use the gym. Beyond its convenience, a midday sweat is a unique opportunity to optimize both body and brain.
Can’t make it out of the office or to the gym? Studies have shown that even short bursts of activity can keep you alert and boost your fitness. Instead of emailing or calling colleagues, stop by their desks to ask a question face to face. Walk down the hall, up and down the stairs, or around the block. Do some jumping jacks or wall push-ups. Use a jump rope or set of hand weights that you keep stashed in your desk. Run through a Yoga or Tai Chi sequence. Doing something physically active is a great way to revive energy and engagement.
Even if it is a short 30 seconds to 5 minute burst of movement every hour, you will feel lighter, brighter and more alert. Short bits add up in the long run and have the potential to snap you out of afternoon dullness and energize you for the rest of the workday. Exercise floods the body with hormones and excitatory neurotransmitters that allow us to power through this time.
Here are some exercises you can even try discreetly at your desk!
- Shoulder Rolls: Roll your shoulders forward, then backward, timing each roll with a deep breath in and out. Repeat these shoulder rolls for two minutes.
- Side Sways: Moving your spine side-to-side can be invigorating due to the increased blood flow along the spine. As you inhale, reach your arms into a “T” position. As you exhale reach your right arm overhead and sway to the left. Inhale brings arms back to the “T.” Exhale sway to the right. Repeat for 5 breaths.
- Toes up/Heels up: If possible, take off your shoes. This full body reboot increases blood flow to your feet and ultimately to the rest of your body. As you inhale, lift your heels up. As you exhale, release heels and lift your toes up. Rock up and down from your toes to your heels, for 5 breaths.
Doing one or all three of these desk exercises or any other movement can help you shift from feeling cluttered to more clear—from feeling frazzled to more focused.
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