You're having a super-productive morning completing all your projects. You've successfully avoided social media and cat videos on YouTube. The clock strikes 2 pm and all of a sudden, a yawn happens (followed by six other yawns).
Instead of projects being the priority, sleep is priority number one.
Welcome to the mid-afternoon slump.
This is due to our circadian rhythms, which affect our sleep patterns and are the reason for the random drowsiness. As Lona Sandon (RD, MEd), whose a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center on WebMD stated:
"There seems to be a natural rhythm or set clock in our bodies, so many people tend to feel a little sleepy around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. There tends to be something about this lull. Some cultures have the siesta, and people find that they're more productive and better able to concentrate if they take time off after lunch and come back later."
Many of us don't have the option of a siesta or to call it a day because we're a little drowsy. Powering through these slumps is tough, but far from impossible. Another cup of coffee or energy drink will only make it more difficult to sleep at night.
To minimize the impact of this inevitable lull and finish the day strong, implement these four key strategies to take care of your mid-afternoon slump.
1. Turn up some music
Music can evoke emotions that words can't describe. For me, the sheer habit of playing salsa music in the midday gives me a much-needed boost in energy, mood, and spirit.
While it may be a little too out there to start salsa dancing at work, listening to music can help against the mid-afternoon slump while boosting your focus, energy, productivity (especially if it's a repetitive task), and reducing stress levels.
2. Be mindful of your hydration levels
Just being slightly dehydrated can bring about feelings of fatigue and sluggishness. Your brain needs water to function optimally. When you're not properly hydrated, you're not able to concentrate. In addition, you're more likely to get hunger pangs that are masking themselves as signs of dehydration.
Dehydration happens with as little as a 1.5 percent loss of your body's water weight. Coffee doesn't help here since it will take more water out of your body and cells. Make sure to drink a couple glasses on the hour and even use some apps to remind you if you happen to be forgetful.
3. Implement moving breaks each hour
Taking a small break each hour can help with your productivity and health (sitting for too long isn't ideal). Besides those two reasons, sitting for an excessive period is a signal that your body links with sleep.
While a lunchtime trip to the gym is a great option, simply standing up to stretch or walk around the office will provide you with a quick energy boost.
4. Pay attention to how you breathe
I didn't know anything about this until various yoga teachers told me that I needed to fix my breathing. Little did I know that I was breathing inefficiently and wasting energy along with creative potential.
The majority of people (myself included at one point in time) take shallow breaths using the chest as opposed to slower breaths and using the belly. Shallow breathing fills up half of your lungs with oxygen. If you improve your breathing, you improve your energy levels along with becoming calmer and more focused due to your body operating more efficiently.
An exercise I learned which helped me is to put your left hand in the middle of your chest and your right hand over your navel. If the left-hand moves more than the right, then that's a sign you're breathing mainly from the chest.
Take a few minutes each day and practice your breathing to unlock a high-performing version of yourself who doesn't let the mid-afternoon slump win.