You know it’s coming before it even hits you – the dreaded 2 p.m. slump.
Since an afternoon nap won’t exactly score you points with your boss, your next best option might be to guzzle down coffee like you’re Lorelai Gilmore or snack on a whole bag of chocolate covered pretzels … or you can do both. Sound like you? We’ve got good news for you: You can reclaim your afternoon back!
“Our bodies are smart and usually tell us what they need if we listen. A mid-morning or afternoon slump often means the body is sending a message that is worth listening to,” says Katie Wells, founder and CEO of WellnessMama.com and Wellnesse.com. “Often, this means that we aren't optimally supporting our circadian rhythm and a few simple tweaks can make a big difference.”
Here, we spoke to the experts for their best tips to help you beat the mid-afternoon slump.
That donut might be a perfect grab-and-go option for those busy mornings, but what follows isn’t so sweet. Yep, we’re talking about the sugar spike and inevitable crash.
“Starting your day with a high-carb, high-sugar or high-fat breakfast such as muffins, bagels with cream cheese and even high-sugar oatmeal can make you feel full and satisfied for a while but make you crave more sugary and unhealthy foods later in the day,” says Savorfull’s founder and CEO Stacy Goldberg, MPH, RN, BSN.
She says you want to set your day up for success by eating a healthy breakfast that contains complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, like the collagen pancakes recipepictured above. “This will make someone feel full and satisfied throughout the morning until lunch.”
Need ideas? Sarah Spann, a nutritionist specializing in digestive disorders based in Brisbane, Australia, has you covered. She recommends a two-egg omelette with vegetables, fruit-free muesli with yogurt, avocado and tomato on sourdough toast or chia pudding with coconut milk and strawberries.
When time has you considering skipping breakfast, sip on a smoothie for fuel instead. “Use fruits, veggies, protein powders, nut and seeds or nut/seed butter, yogurts and organic milk or non-dairy beverages,” says Goldberg.
Get your mojo back throughout the day by moving often. While a morning workout is best for bringing your energy to a peak and keeping it there, not everyone is willing to get up at the crack of dawn. “For some people, morning exercise helps beat the slump. For others, movement right before the tiredness hits is more effective,” says Wells.
The balance, she says, is to find what works best for you. This could mean sneaking in some exercise during your lunch break or even taking frequent walking breaks throughout the day.
“Daily exercise is great, but small and regular movement makes the most significant difference,” says Wells. “Set a timer on your phone to get up and move in some way every 30 minutes. A short walk, some jumping jacks or squats or even just gentle stretching can make a huge difference.”
If you work at a place where temptation is at every turn (hello, break room snacks!), packing your own snacks is the best line of defense against the mid-afternoon munchies. Goldberg says that this could be a handful of almonds, fruit, veggies, string cheese, a protein bar (Editor’s note: May we suggest Vital Proteins Collagen Bars™?) or another healthy snack to keep you feeling energized.
All work and no play can definitely make anyone fast asleep by 2 p.m., so give yourself permission to take breaks!
“Just like an athlete rests between workouts, so should you,” says Jaime Hickey, a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and founder of Truism Fitness. “It’s hard to keep your mind on the task at hand when you start to notice yourself becoming side-tracked or tired.”
The best thing about a break is that it can be whatever you want it to be – except maybe not catching a cab and high-tailing it out of work eight hours early.
If your break consists of a walk, there are additional benefits to this than just physical perks. “You'll get a boost in your mood, creativity and productivity collectively, to go back to work and finish the task at hand,” says Sara Quiriconi, a travel wellness expert.
If taking breaks is hard to schedule during the day, Quiriconi recommends setting a 10-minute timer. Use this time to sit with your thoughts, meditate or, you know, take the world’s shortest nap.
Having to constantly run to the washroom from drinking so much water can be annoying, but the benefits far outweigh this. “We lose a lot of water during sleep, and this boost of hydration also supports digestion, lymphatic health and liver health,” Wells explains to Lively. “Bonus: this is also great for the skin!”
She advises on drinking a big glass of water as soon as you get up. If getting enough H20 is difficult, Goldberg recommends adding lemon or some other fruit inside to liven things up. Need something quick and flavorful? Reach for Vital Proteins Collagen Water™ to help reach your hydration goals.
Since you don’t have Kylie Jenner to help you “rise and shine” every morning, allow the sun to give you a sunny wake-up call instead.
“There is a lot of evidence that getting natural sunlight as soon as possible after waking up helps circadian rhythm by helping cortisol and melatonin production at the correct time,” says Wells.
She says to aim for at least 30 minutes of natural outdoor sunlight within an hour of waking up. If it’s warm enough where you are, an easy way to do this is to take your morning coffee or breakfast outside.
Just as a healthy breakfast sets you up for a productive morning, a healthy lunch makes it so your energy levels are no match for the 2 p.m. slump.
“Eat energizing foods for lunch, alive and rich in nutrients (think, greens, avocados, salmon, raw or fresh produce), instead of carb-heavy meals,” says Quiriconi.
Sip on green tea or drink more water as well instead of guzzling down another coffee. “It's too easy to reach for the caffeine, thinking it will wake us up. Sometimes, we're tired due to dehydration.”
How tired you feel the next day starts and ends with sleep.
“We all know how it feels to try and get through the day after a bad night’s sleep, and our bodies and minds cannot, and do not, function properly,” Hickey tells Lively. “You’ll be cranky, edgy, flat and feeling hungover even though you didn’t drink.”
The goal, he says, is to aim for to eight hours every night to get your body’s sleep pattern in a habit.
Getting there, as we all know, is the tough part. Shut the TV and electronic devices off an hour before bed, do some breathing exercises, take one of Vital Proteins Collagen Sleep Shots— (we’ve got all the reasons why you should covered right here) — do whatever it takes to get that highly-important shut-eye.