“Next time you start dozing off at your desk, try one of these invigorating tricks for instant energy.”
You’ve just come back from lunch. You sit down in front of your computer and feel ready to tackle the rest of the day head first. Piece of cake!
And then, before you realize what’s happening, it begins. You start re-reading the same sentence once, and then twice, and next thing you know you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open. You’ve fallen victim to the dreaded afternoon slump.
The afternoon slump is your body’s innate response to three things:
- Its programmed circadian rhythm (our internal clock that shuts us down and wakes us up)
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels generally tied to what we eat
- Lack of movement
If you routinely get sluggish halfway through your workday, don’t go chasing your fourth cup of coffee of the day. Drinking caffeine past morning can interrupt your sleep cycle and even become a crutch.
Instead, try some of these simple tricks to revive your energy. They’re quick, easy, and best of all, healthy.
1. Chug ice water with lemon.
Pour yourself a cold glass of water and add half of a sliced lemon for a refreshing pick-me-up. This tip is actually three-in-one, because the water itself, the temperature, and the lemon all have energizing properties.
Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration, so if your body is even slightly low on fluids, you may feel drowsy.
Second, lemons are full of health benefits that can positively affect your productivity. Their stimulating scent can not only improve your mood but also promote concentration and reduce anxiety. Its high levels of Vitamin C also boost your immune system while its flavonoids are conducive to better blood flow.
Finally, cold water can produce a host of energizing effects on your body, including revving up your metabolism, improving circulation, and increasing endorphins.
2. Splash cold water on your face.
Similar to drinking cold water, splashing some on your face will cause a shock to your body. Because it’s cooler than the air, the water will stimulate your nervous system’s fight or flight reaction and prepare your body for action. The result? Instant alertness.
3. Sing along to your favorite song.
You may feel a little silly following this advice, but it works. And if you’re working from home, there’s really no excuse not to try it.
Put on your favorite upbeat song and let yourself sing along. Pretending you’re on a karaoke stage and singing passionately gets oxygen pumping through your body, plus it produces adrenaline. The faster the song, the better. Extra energy points for dancing along.
4. Do 10 jumping jacks.
The most effective thing you can do to get a jolt of energy is to get your blood flowing through exercise. But what if you don’t have enough time to take a break from work and do a full workout?
No matter how crazy your workload is, you have time to do 10 jumping jacks. It’s the easiest way to get your heart pumping.
In general, the more active you are, the better your circulation will be. If you haven’t noticed, improved circulation is a running theme with these tricks; it’s essential for energy because blood is the delivery system of fuel for your cells. Better blood flow means the cells in your muscles, brain, and all over your body will be receiving oxygen regularly.
5. Take 5.
Taking five minutes to stretch will not only restore your energy and alertness but also improve your mood and reduce stiffness and pain.
Stretching is another way to get your blood flowing through your body. The mobility in your joints produced by stretching causes muscles to expand and contract more than usual, encouraging circulation. And as any yoga practitioner knows, movement in the body translates to liveliness in the mind.
If you sit in a BackStrong C1 for work, you don’t even have to leave your chair to stimulate blood flow. The BackStrong C1 is the only chair with a rocking bucket seat that allows for natural movement of the pelvis and back which stimulates circulation.
6. Sit up straight.
Speaking of chairs, slouching in yours is a major contributing factor to fatigue. Simply correcting your posture by sitting straight with your shoulders back, lower back slightly arched, and looking forward, can give you a boost of energy.
As a practicing chiropractor for over 25 years, I’ve seen firsthand the power that posture has to significantly improve our lives. From confidence to pain-relief, posture is key to living a healthy life. Proper posture opens your chest and allows up to 30 percent more oxygen to your body and brain, giving you that lift in energy.
You should also practice interrupted sitting. Get up and walk, bend, and twist once every 40 minutes to ward off slumps in the first place.
7. Eat a piece of fruit.
Often, afternoon slumps are caused by fluctuating blood-sugar levels. Instead of reaching for a donut, grab a banana or an apple for a surge of energy. Fruits like these are complex carbs, which feed our brain and give us sustained energy.
Complex carbohydrates digest slowly, meaning it takes more work over a longer period for your body to break them down, so they deliver energy more steadily. Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, have a low glycemic index, which means they produce a spike in blood glucose (hence the term “sugar rush”) followed by a crash.
Other great snacks for energy are vegetables with high levels of quercetin. Quercetin is part of a group of plant compounds called flavonoids that act as antioxidants, protecting against inflammation and thus a host of health problems. Quercetins are found in a variety of foods including berries, Brassica vegetables, capers, grapes, onions, shallots, tea, and tomatoes, as well as many seeds, nuts, flowers, barks, and black or green tea.
You can also help prevent slumps by eating a balanced, low-carb healthy breakfast that emphasizes protein, snacking regularly (on foods such as nuts, hard-boiled eggs and Greek yogurt), and eating a lunch with plant-based protein and that’s high in vitamin B.
8. Go for a walk outside.
A brisk, 10 minute walk is all it takes to raise your energy levels and is even more effective at increasing alertness than 50 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of a can of soda, cup of tea, or shot of espresso).
Going outside amplifies the benefits, especially if it’s sunny out. Natural light can help re-sync your circadian rhythm, which may be off especially because of Covid-19 lockdowns and quarantines.
When your circadian rhythm is disturbed it is important to reestablish your natural rhythm as soon as possible. To regulate your circadian rhythm over time, supplementing Magnesium, Melatonin or L Tryptophan prior to bedtime may help. It’s also helpful to avoid negativity prior to bedtime and meditate or pray before sleep to reduce internal stress and ensure adequate REM sleep which is so vital to your body and mind rest.
9. Chew mint gum.
The results of four studies suggest that the act of chewing spearmint gum can enhance attention, as well as promote well-being and work performance. Be kind to your teeth and opt for the sugar-free kind.
10. Rub your ears.
Really! There is an energy pathway in the upper rim of your ears that acupuncturists use to increase blood flow and energy. Massaging them can have a similar effect. Start at your earlobes, and massage up to the top of your ears for about a minute, until they start to feel warm. You’ll then start to feel more alert.
What do you do to wake yourself up when you’re feeling sluggish? Share your tip with us in the comments.