7 Tips To Break Through the Midday Slump

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Many people are familiar with the experience of the midday slump—a feeling of fatigue, grogginess, and irritability that sets in after lunch, usually sometime between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

It can be unpleasant and even distressing to experience this day after day when you really need to be focused and productive—or at least not brooding and distracted. It’s common to reach for an easy, pleasurable cure to try to remedy the feeling, such as a candy bar or can of soda.

But there are more effective and healthier ways to help you snap out of—and even prevent—that slumpy feeling. Read on to learn what you can do to help yourself sail through the afternoon with energy and good spirits.

1. Move your body

Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins that invigorate your brain and boost your mood. That’s why moving your body in some way—taking a walk, doing some yoga, hitting the gym—in the afternoon is one of the best ways to forestall or cure your midday slump. Even just a walk around the block can have a bolstering effect on your mood and ability to focus.

2. Get some fresh air

Fresh air is more than just a folk remedy for ill-health; there’s scientific support for the fact that breathing in greater oxygen as you do when moving around outside is good for your brain. Take a moment to leave the confines of your office during the afternoon to get some of that O2-rich brainfood. Extra points if you move around and breathe deeply while you’re at it. 

3. Have a snack

While the midday slump often happens shortly after lunch, having a little extra food can help put a little extra pep in your step. This is especially the case if you experience the slump in the mid-afternoon, around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. It’s a good idea to reach for a healthy and filling snack that won’t spike your blood sugar, such as celery sticks, nuts, or cheese. These options can help you feel nourished and energized without the energy crash that a sweet treat can bring on.

4. Drink water

A feeling of fatigue or lethargy can be an indication of dehydration, so drinking water should be one of the first things you try whenever you experience that slumpy feeling. Even slight dehydration can affect your mood for the worse or make you feel tired. But even if a glass of water doesn’t un-slumpify you, drinking more can never hurt. And the trip to the water cooler might give you a moment to socialize as a much-needed break. 

5. Talk to a friend

Having a social conversation that doesn’t relate to work can be a great mood booster and provide a new burst of energy to take on the rest of your workday. You might catch up with a coworker over coffee or sit outside while you chat with a friend on the phone. If this tactic is something that helps you beat the slump, schedule phone dates or coffee dates ahead of time to make sure the outlet is built into your day.

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6. Appreciate a moment of beauty

A midday slump can sometimes be dispelled by simple appreciation of things you’ve taken for granted while having your nose to the grindstone. There’s much beauty in the world, and taking some time to appreciate it can bring you joy and energy. Try taking a few minutes to admire fresh flowers, enjoy the scent of a candle, or listen to beautiful music.

7. Prioritize sleep

Not everyone has full control over how well they sleep, but doing things to improve your rest will help you prevent the worst of the midday slumps. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour, avoiding screens too close to bedtime, and try to sleep the same amount each night. Being well-rested might help you avoid—or at least ameliorate—the slump.

The bottom line

Suffering from a midday slump is not inevitable; there are many things you can do to help dispel this feeling of torpor and gloom. Whether you break out your yoga mat, eat a chunk of cheese, chug some water, or call a friend, taking action itself is part of the cure. Taking ownership of your needs and your mood is a powerful way to help yourself feel better.

Disclaimer

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Katherine Gustafson
Written by
Katherine Gustafson
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