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Most Effective Ways to Overcome the Post-Lunch Dip in Energy

Most Effective Ways to Overcome the Post-Lunch Dip in Energy

You know the feeling – it’s early afternoon and you are doing everything you can to fight off yawns and avoid microsleeps.

We all naturally experience a midday slump, and it’s due to fluctuations in our internal circadian rhythms. For most people, this dip occurs between 2:00 p.m and 4:00 p.m. During this time, your body temperature decreases and alertness also declines. This flux leaves many people yawning at their desks after lunch and reaching for an extra cup of coffee or sugary pick-me-up. Although the post-lunch dip in energy has biological roots, there are a few ways you can help yourself stay focused and alert through the afternoon by choosing smarter foods and incorporating a few energy-boosting habits into your routine.

1. Choose smarter foods.

Sugary foods and simple carbs can provide a short burst of energy, but may leave you yawning again in no time. On the other hand, foods with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates preserve energy for hours. The idea is to maintain blood glucose levels in order to minimize your energy dip. Here are few smart foods to have on hand for afternoon snacks:

  • Protein rich snacks like boiled eggs, cheese, turkey, smoked salmon or almonds.
  • Chocolate, particularly flavanol-rich dark chocolate or even low-sugar cacao nibs.
  • Apples, oranges and blueberries are also rich in flavonoids and easy to bring along.
  • Staying hydrated with plenty of plain water helps boost alertness.
  • Green tea and black tea are rich in energy-boosting compounds including caffeine.

Other tips include eating a breakfast rich in healthy carbohydrates which helps sustain energy throughout the day, and avoiding overeating at lunch which can contribute to drowsiness.

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    2. Take a very short nap after lunch.

    Napping is an effective way to boost energy in the afternoon, if it’s done right. If your goal is to overcome drowsiness, the ideal midday nap is between 10 and 20 minutes. Longer naps can actually make you feel more drowsy upon waking, so its best to keep them short.

    Take your nap during the time you usually feel tired if possible, making sure to set an alarm so you’ll definitely wake up. Once up, do some quick stretching or jumping jacks and drink some water to get energized. If you are partial to caffeine, studies suggest consuming it before your short nap for the best effects.

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      3. Get moving or take a walk if you feel tired.

      Sitting at a desk for hours can also contribute to drowsiness, and boredom as well. During your afternoon slump, make it a point to get the blood flowing with a little activity every so often. A walk outside in the sunshine might be best, but even a jaunt to the water-cooler, running in place or jumping jacks for a few minutes can all be beneficial for alertness. Periodic activity could have other health benefits for sedentary workers, too.

      Walking In Office

        4. Have a sweater or jacket at your desk if you feel cold.

        An internal temperature drop is a key part of the circadian pattern that contributes to the post-lunch energy dip. Keep a sweater or jacket around to warm yourself back up and fight the yawns, especially if your workplace is on the cooler side.

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          5. Keep rooms brightly lit or sit by a window.

          Light also plays a role in circadian rhythms, and getting plenty of natural sunlight in the afternoon can be helpful for limiting drowsiness and for normalizing sleep schedules as well. Sit by a window if you can, or keep your workspace brightly lit if there are no windows nearby. Dimmer rooms can make nodding off harder to resist.

          Office With A Window

            6. Get a good laugh in.

            Another instant way to fight mental fatigue is to simply laugh. Laughter engages mood and cognition-boosting chemicals in your brain, helping you feel better, less stressed and feel more alert. Take a look your favorite funny YouTube videos, browse quiet giggle-inducing GIFs, or share a funny story with colleagues – all in the name of productivity.

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              7. Practice good sleep habits at night.

              Sleeping well at night and practicing good sleep hygiene also helps avoid daytime fatigue. Make sure you are allowing yourself adequate sleep time every night (at least seven hours for most adults), and try to stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule every day. An evening routine with sleep-friendly habits can also help.

              Time for Sleep

                Though some of these tips may seem a little counterintuitive, science shows that energy-boosting foods, activity, light, naps and even laughter can work to counteract your body’s natural afternoon dip in energy. Naps and activity breaks in particular can actually make people even more productive and creative, boosting alertness and contributing to physical and mental health. Now there’s no excuse not take a siesta and jump around at work!

                Share: What do you do to get through the post-lunch dip in energy? Have you tried any of the hacks above?

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                Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

                The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

                Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

                Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

                The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

                Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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                Program Your Own Algorithms

                Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

                Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

                By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

                How to Form a Ritual

                I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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                Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

                1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
                2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
                3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
                4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

                Ways to Use a Ritual

                Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

                1. Waking Up

                Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

                2. Web Usage

                How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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                3. Reading

                How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

                4. Friendliness

                Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

                5. Working

                One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

                6. Going to the gym

                If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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                7. Exercise

                Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

                8. Sleeping

                Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

                8. Weekly Reviews

                The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

                Final Thoughts

                We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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                Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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