17 Tried and Tested Tricks to Beat the 3pm Desk Slump

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Mike James is a featured author and business writer, specialising in HR, Marketing and Cybersecurity. Published on numerous online authorities and print magazines, Mike is currently focusing on HR and management with staff management software specialist Planday.
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We’ve all been there. Reach 3 pm at work and a wave of tiredness hits. More often than not the temptation to grab a coffee and a chocolate bar wins through. Although the initial gratification feels good (even really good), it’s simply not enough to see you through to the end of the working day. In fact, as the caffeine and sugar rush wears off, you’ll find yourself back in the slumpiest of slumps.

If you want to make your afternoon as spritely as your morning, try one (or several) of our 17 tried and tested tricks to fend off the 3 pm slump.

1. Choose healthy snacks

Instead of the chocolate bar, make a healthier choice. A bowl of cut-up salad and raw veg with some hummus will give you more of an energy boost than refined sugary snacks, and it will leave you feeling virtuous for the rest of the day. Alternatively, try a cup of Miso soup, a super-greens juice, nut butter with whole-wheat crackers, or a large handful of nuts and seeds.

2. Eat an energy boosting lunch

What you eat for lunch will definitely have an impact on your energy levels throughout the afternoon. Even worse is to skip lunch completely.

Plan ahead and choose ingredients that will keep you going all afternoon. Protein such as chicken, salmon, tuna, tofu, eggs or beans combined with a hearty salad or a bowl of steamed vegetables are great choices. Steer clear of carbs unless they are complex carbohydrates such as brown rice. Lentil or bean soups are fast and easy meal options. If you must have bread make it whole-wheat or preferably rye.

3. Switch caffeine for herbal tea

Caffeine plays havoc with our energy levels. Coffee and tea are common addictions and get used as a prop. But what goes up must come down. As a stimulant, caffeine does a great job at perking us up, but to our body, it’s also a stressor. It increases the level of our stress hormones epinephrine, adrenalin and cortisol, which in turn affects our blood sugar levels and saps energy.

Don’t go cold turkey. Reduce caffeine slowly until you’re having just one cup a day, then cut that one out.

4. Go for a walk

A power walk or even a gentle stroll will get you away from your desk and get your blood circulating. It’s a great way to clear the mind and refocus.

5. Stretch

Adjusting posture and having a good stretch will give you an energetic boost. Sitting in the same position all day is bad for your health.

6. Save the best bits until last

Don’t be tempted to put off the tedious or difficult work to the end of the day. It will be especially difficult to get through if you’ve hit an energy slump. Working on something that inspires you will actually boost your energy levels.

7. Essential oils

When you feel the afternoon slump coming on, why not try a stimulating essential oil to help you focus and concentrate? Basil, Black Pepper, Lemon, Peppermint or Rosemary are renowned for their pick-me-up properties. Simply put a few drops on a tissue and inhale. Or try Tisserand’s Focus aromatherapy roller ball to refresh your thinking.

8. Plan a group activity

Scheduling in regular team meetings and group activities will help to ramp up the energy levels. Brainstorming can actually be quite invigorating. Tools like the scheduling software from Planday will help you to plan ahead.

9. Sit in the daylight for 10 minutes

Exposure to sunlight boosts vitamin D levels and increases Serotonin, the body’s natural happiness hormone. And, the sleep hormone, Melatonin, is suppressed by exposure to daylight. Get some sunlight and you’ll be happier and livelier.

10. Declutter your desk

As the day goes on it’s easy for your desk to become messy and cluttered. If you’re feeling a little low in the afternoon, give your desk an overhaul. It’s a quick win in terms of achieving something and will spur you on for the rest of the day.

11. Keep hydrated

Even mild dehydration causes drowsiness. When fatigue strikes try drinking a glass of water. Forget the cup of coffee – it will dehydrate you further.

12. Take a power nap

If you really must, a cheeky nap will recharge your batteries. It’s a scientifically proven fact that a short nap for 20 minutes or less during the day will actually revitalise you and boost mental performance.

13. Change it up

Do something different to change the pace and make the day more interesting. You’ll be surprised at how something new can clear your head.

14. Set yourself a goal with a reward

If there’s no getting away from a repetitive task, set yourself small goals with rewards to get you through the day. A walk, listening to your favourite tune or a quick phone call to a loved one may keep you focused on powering through the workload.

15. Focus on one thing at a time

Working like a headless chicken is exhausting. Focus on one thing at a time and you’ll preserve energy.

16. Take a musical break

Listening to some uplifting music will lift your spirits and your energy levels. Sing along if you want to.

17. Google soppy images

When all else fails, cooing over cute images will at least make you smile. Whether it’s puppies, kittens or family pics, whatever gives you a fuzzy warm feeling give yourself permission for a sneaky few minutes downtime.

Go on, give yourself an energy boost.

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