We’ve all been there… you sit back down after your lunch break, and all of a sudden you feel super sleepy and sluggish. Trust us, you’re not the only one experiencing it! Scientists have actually determined that this post-lunch energy dip is a real phenomenon that many people deal with on a regular basis.
Some of the most common things that cause the post-lunch energy dip while working include the temperature of your workspace, what you ate for lunch, access to sunlight and/or windowed areas, and your hydration level. Moderating these specific things will help you boost energy levels, feel better, and also positively affect your general health. Let’s dive into 10 ways to avoid that dreadful post-lunch energy dip while working, so that you can have long lasting productive energy throughout your workday.
You’ve heard it often in the past few years, people putting an importance on staying hydrated throughout the day. The thing is, it really works. Keep a large water bottle by your desk to remind yourself to take frequent sips. Buy a fun themed or decorated reusable bottle to make it more like an excited accessory than just a water bottle. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of fatigue.
“Health experts commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon a day. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember. However, some experts believe that you need to sip on water constantly throughout the day, even when you’re not thirsty. As with most things, this depends on the individual. Many factors (both internal and external) ultimately affect how much water you need,” (healthline).
As little as 5 minutes in or near nature or greenery can improve your mood and increase oxygenation to the brain. Numerous experimental psychology studies have linked exposure to nature with increased energy and heightened sense of well-being. “Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning,” (Yale). These studies have shown that time in nature is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments, which also help speed the rate of healing.
Develop good eating habits
Waking up just slightly earlier and giving yourself to eat a good breakfast can make the world of a difference. A protein-rich breakfast can help to regulate your energy levels, so you don’t experience a crash. Cutting carbs and heading towards foods such as salmon, kale, avocado, bananas, and nuts will also help you with an energy boost, according to dieticians.
Where energy is the issue, it’s better to eat small meals & snacks every few hours than three large meals a day. This approach can reduce your perception of fatigue because your brain, which has very few energy reserves of its own, needs a steady supply of nutrients. Some people begin feeling sluggish after just a few hours without food. But it doesn’t take much to feed your brain. A piece of fruit or a few nuts is adequate. Researchers have observed that the circadian rhythms of people who eat a lot at lunch typically show a more pronounced afternoon slump. The reasons for this are unclear, but it may reflect the increase in blood sugar after eating, which is followed by a slump in energy later. (Harvard)
Break a sweat
Moving your body throughout the week will do wonders for your energy levels, your physical health, and your mental health. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary, otherwise healthy adults who engaged in as little as 20 minutes of low-to-moderate aerobic exercise, only three days a week for six consecutive weeks, reported an increase in energy levels and feeling less fatigued. “If a sedentary individual begins an exercise program it will enhance the blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue improving their ability to produce more energy,” (Ace Fitness).
Whether it’s doing morning yoga before work, taking a nice walk on your lunch break, or doing an evening workout session, moving your body and getting your blood pumping will do your body and your energy level wonders.
Open the blinds
Natural light is extremely important to people’s mental and physical health. Not getting enough sunlight negatively influences their performance and well-being, and vastly contributes to chronic fatigue. Exposure to sunlight, particularly in the morning, helps you wake up faster, and researchers have found that early in the day sunlight exposure can also regulate hormones. Irregular hormones can cause fatigue, so doing small things to regulate them can combat that. Being exposed to natural light will have a positive impact on your energy levels and, as a result, increase your productivity.
Monitor your workload
Stress is a huge contributor to fatigue. Although it’s hard to specifically monitor your workload, you can try to break it down and make it easier for you to digest, and try to combat that fatigue inducing stress. In the morning, take a few minutes to look to look at your workload. Make a manageable to-do list for your first half of the day, and focus on only that, so not to become overwhelmed and stressed. After lunch, sit down and write another to-do list for the second half of your day. Breaking your list up into two halves will make it feel much more manageable, and hopefully you will feel less stressed and more ready to take on all of your tasks.
Organize or rearrange your desk area
Taking 10 minutes to organize or rearrange your desk a little bit can make the world of a difference. Feeling stuck in the same area, or in a cluttered environment can weigh down on your energy level. Cluttered desks can lead to an overwhelmed or anxious feeling, which can negatively impact your stamina. You’ll feel more comfortable in your space, and feel accomplished from completing that task, and your energy will be positively affected by both of those things. When you’re surrounded by clutter, your mind often feels overstimulated. Making decisions requires more energy, and it’s easy to feel constantly distracted. By having a clean area, you’ll be able to focus and make decisions more quickly and easily, which will also save yourself some energy.
Take a stand
In recent years, standing desks have been all the rage… and for a good reason! Standing desks are great for many reasons. A surprising benefit of standing desks is an increase in daily energy levels. Researchers found that those using standing desks for an extended period reported higher energy levels than those who sat at their desks all day. Other research has found links between sedentary lifestyles – like sitting all day – and depression. Standing at your desk could help lift your mood along with your energy levels. (Gonstead Chiropractic)
Standing increases circulation, which is directly correlated to energy levels, and also keeps you up and alert.
Practice mindful breathing
Mindful, deep breathing exercises will do wonders for your energy levels and mental health. When you take a deep, belly breath, your stomach expands outward, the lower ribs expand sideways, causing your diaphragm to contract. This helps to fill every part of your lungs with oxygen. It’s this volume of oxygen that helps change how you feel. It ramps up blood flow and increases oxygenation leading to more energy. On the calming side, it stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system slowing your heart rate and controlling the release of stress hormones. (Shine App)
All it takes is literally 1 minute of breathing exercises to completely turn around your blood oxygen level and boost your energy.
Take a break
We suggest taking two types of breaks throughout the day. The first is a more frequent, quick break, called the 20/20 rule. Screen fatigue is real, and if you are working at a computer all day, it will negatively impact your eyes and make you feel much more fatigued. Doctors recommend taking a 20 second micro-breaks every 20 minutes throughout your day to close your eyes and give yourself a break from the glare of your computer, giving your eyes a chance to rest. This can have a big impact on your energy levels.
Aside from these micro-breaks, it’s also very important to get up periodically through your day, walk around, stretch, and reset your posture and mindset. Taking breaks during the day isn’t just good for your productivity or combating fatigue—it’s instinctual. Sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman found that the human body follows a rest-activity cycle every 90-120 minutes. At night, that cycle takes you through the different stages of sleep. During the day, it manages your energy and alertness levels. (RescueTime)