5 Tips to Conquer the Midday Slump
By: Dr. Jodi Ashbrook, Founder & CEO of ZenLeader
If you find yourself fading in the middle of the work day, don’t fret: The majority of people battle the midday slump for roughly two hours in the late afternoon.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, our internal circadian clocks are to blame for that sleepy, “need more coffee” feeling, as the human body is designed to slow down during the middle of the day. As our circadian rhythm dips and rises, our strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm, with some variation. The lack of motivation we often have during these lows will be even more intense if we are already sleep deprived.
Thus, here are some relevant tips to stay both present and productive, so you can elevate your energy levels:
Fuel Your Body. Healthy nutritional habits serve as a major energy source, so be sure to eat a balanced breakfast and something substantial at lunch time that will keep you moving and alert throughout the day. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as well, and lay off of the coffee as the stimulant can cause inconsistent spikes and crashes in your energy levels.
Tackle Challenging Tasks Early. It’s time to own your mornings. Not everyone was meant to be an early bird, but if possible, try to complete your most daunting tasks before lunch time while you’re fresh. In the afternoon, don’t ignore your to-do list or you’ll be dealing with anxiety; instead, take the time to get organized, clean up your inbox, etc.
Get Up and Move. Better yet, spend your lunch break outdoors when you can. In 2013, another study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine showed that people experience “immediate benefits” for cognition following “a single bout of moderate exercise”, such as 15 minutes of moderate cycling on a stationary bike. Not to mention the positive mindset shift you’ll experience as you’ll feel accomplished for the rest of the day. Keep lightweight dumbbells at your desk or a small exercise ball so that you can get your reps in between emails or on the down low while you are powering through that conference call to easily bring a physical movement in your workday.
Press Pause & Meditate. A midday meditation break allows us to de-stress and stretch. According to Psychology Today, when we break our normal cycle of thinking, we can also boost focus, creativity and productivity. Plus, it can be a great awareness building tool, allowing you to be more open-minded and accepting of others even when you’re feeling tired and irritable. If you’re new to meditation, try tuning into a guided session with your earbuds.
Create a Bedtime Routine. Developing a healthy sleep pattern is crucial to avoid the midday slump. As aforementioned, our circadian rhythm dips more intensely when we are already deprived of quality sleep. Shut down electronics no less than one hour before you lay down for the evening, don’t overdo it on alcoholic beverages, and try to stick with a consistent bedtime to give yourself the best chance at having a good night sleep.
When all else fails, listen to your body closely. There is no shame in shutting down altogether and even taking a break to nap when possible. We must connect more deeply with our holistic self to live our best life on the daily. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you’re overworked and overtired—taking time to listen to our bodies and being willing to surrender to the voice that says “take a break” can be difficult. The reality is, if you don’t listen, the voice will get louder and the pain in your body, chaos in your mind and darkening of your spirit will only grow until you finally surrender. Hopefully these tips have helped and encouraged you to find ways that you can make you and your self-care a priority.
About the Author:
Dr. Jodi Ashbrook is a Speaker, Writer, Serial Entrepreneur and Yoga Teacher, owning & operating ventures that offer holistic wellness education and professional development. Jodi earned her doctorate in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, and applies her degree to her co-founded consulting agency, Elevate Higher Ed, that enables universities to properly assess department gaps and develop strategies for student success. As Founder of ZenLeader®, Jodi arms emerging leaders with mindfulness strategies and techniques to connect more deeply to their ultimate purpose. Jodi is simultaneously conducting a research project, Wandering West, with the goal to capture and aggregate words of wisdom on camera from everyday Americans who value self-care (documentary production pending in 2020). Jodi shamelessly wears her heart on her sleeve, and has a passion for helping others follow suit with her new retail brand, The Spirit Cartel. Outside of her virtual office, she enjoys spending time in nature and traveling. Learn more at www.jodiashbrook.com