Are you all too familiar with the afternoon slump? Even after a decent night’s sleep, you might still find yourself struggling to power through the day.
Kick your energy level up a notch with these tips. You won't feel wired when it’s time to wind down, either.
Start Your Day With Fiber
The type of breakfast you choose can mean the difference between feeling sluggish or full steam ahead.
“It's really important to think of food as your fuel,” says Jessica Crandall, CDE, a Colorado-based registered dietitian.
Meals with the most oomph are packed with both fiber and protein, a combo that keeps your tummy feeling full and your blood sugar steady. By contrast, when you eat low-fiber grains, your blood sugar spikes, then drops a short time later, leading to an energy crash.
For a power-packed morning meal, try eggs and multigrain toast, or oatmeal with a side of yogurt and berries.
Or nosh on nuts, which are rich in fiber and protein “Add a few nuts on top of your cereal or your yogurt parfait,” says Joan Salge Blake, RDN, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University.
Take Lots of Short Breaks
This can make you more productive by helping you avoid burnout.
“It’s okay to say, 'I need to take a few minutes to refresh myself,'” says Wanda D. Filer, MD, a family doctor in York, PA.
Researchers at Louisiana State University say workers who take several short breaks throughout the day work more quickly -- and make fewer mistakes -- than those who take just one or two longer breaks.
Is your stomach growling? Don’t just dash to the vending machine. Simple carbs and sugars, like those found in candy and chips, will raise your blood sugar for a short-lived boost, then leave you feeling drowsy and still hungry for the rest of the day.
Instead, go for high-fiber, high-protein options like trail mix or energy bars. Bring a snack from home.
“Try an apple or banana with peanut butter,” Crandall says, “or nuts, or whole-grain crackers with string cheese.”
There’s a good reason we say we need some “get up and go” when we’re feeling tired. Take a few minutes to walk around the block. It can give you an energy lift without disrupting your workday.
A 10-minute walk provides more energy than eating a candy bar, a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found.
“I encourage people to get up and walk every hour or two,” Filer says. “Walk to the water cooler or the bathroom. Step outside and get a breath of fresh air. A 10-minute walk is good for circulation, lets you stay positive, and helps you concentrate on work.”
Try to spend at least 5 minutes every morning focused on your breathing. You can do it lying in bed or sitting comfortably. It’ll get easier to stay focused with practice. Meditation can ease stress and fight fatigue.
Your mind is bound to wander during the day. When it does, you can refocus on the present by paying attention to your breath for a bit, says Barb Schmidt, author of The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace and Uncovering Happiness.
This kind of mindfulness can help you do better on the job and have less stress, she says.
Assess Your Stress
Everybody has some pressure in their lives, and the office can be a common source of tension. Too much stress can hurt your work. It can also cause anxiety, sleep loss, overeating, and exhaustion.
If your job is taking a toll, consider talking to your boss or someone in human resources about how you can change the situation for the better.
“I've had people make job changes because I opened up the conversation, so they could think what their solutions could be,” Filer says.