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The Mid-Afternoon Energy Wall

Happy Thursday, friends!

How’s your morning going so far? Anyone getting pumped for the weekend yet? The last couple of days have been pretty crazy for me work-wise so I’m certainly looking forward to some rest!

Speaking of work, let’s talk about the mid-afternoon wall, shall we? You know, the feeling you get around 2pm where a nap sounds like the best thing in the world and you’re wondering if anyone would notice if you were to curl up under your desk for a minute or two…. or 20? Ok, I haven’t done that, nor do I plan to, but you know the feeling right?

I have to admit that one of the hardest things for me to adjust to coming out of the university student life and into the “oh-crap-I’m-an-adult-who-has-to-work-now” life has been sitting at a desk from 9-5. I’m the type that’s used to moving about constantly and I get restless if I have to sit too long. (How I ever survived the 16 hour flights to and from Canada every summer of the years that I lived in Bahrain is a mystery.) However, over the last little while I’ve found a few little tricks that seem to keep my energy levels up in the afternoon, so that’s what I’ve got for you today! For starters…

1. Take a walk.

I don’t care where it is – to the bathroom, to the office kitchen to get a drink, to actually see a co-worker you were going to email anyway, to the supply room to get more file folders (hey – it’s always good to be organized!) – just get up!

2. Even better than going for a walk – run up a flight of stairs.

Well, you don’t really have to run, but try to do it fairly quickly. Even though it might seem counter-intuitive when you’re tired, sending a little oxygen to your brain and getting your heart pumping for a few minutes can work wonders!

3. Pulllll your shoulders back!

Slouching over at your desk (or wherever you may be) puts extra pressure on your joints and prevents you from taking deep breaths. So make sure you’ve got a good chair, and remind yourself to stick your shoulders to it. (Or as Mr. Trainer tells me, pretend you’re trying to crush a pop can with your shoulder blades. By sitting up straight, you can fill your lungs with as much air as possible and send more oxygen to the rest of the body.

(Source)

4. Drink some water.

You probably don’t need me to tell you to stay hydrated and why it’s important – just do it! If you’re the type that needs reminding, or if you’re all about graphs and charts and things like that, there’s even apps for this. For example: Water Your Body Lite:

Alternatively or additionally, you can try my most recent favourite trick, which is to pop home over the lunch hour and make a smoothie. I’ve done it every single day this week and have thoroughly enjoyed each one!

5. Make sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals.

For starters, check that you’ve got enough of these in your diet, preferably through whole food sources rather than supplements:

  • B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12): These convert the chemical energy in food to ATP, the energy that your cells use.
  • Iron: Helps to deliver oxygen throughout the body. This one can be a little more challenging if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
  • Magnesium: Needed to produce energy and for the muscles to function properly.
  • Vitamin C: For protection of your immune system.
  • Vitamin D: Since vitamin D is required to support the processes in the body that keep us feeling and looking physically healthy (eg bone growth and strength), deficiencies can lead to mood swings and low energy levels.

6. Do a few stretches.

This tip sort of follows on behind the posture one, but doing stretches at your desk can help to reduce muscle strain and the amount of pressure put on your joints. For some ideas, check out this post. One of my favourites is this one, which is apparently called “the circling eagle”:

(Click for description)

If you have to sit in front of a computer and find that you get a sore neck/upper back, you need to try this!

7. Snack often instead of eating a massive lunch.

I usually eat a high-protein snack at about 11, and a light-ish lunch at 1 (typically a green salad topped with something a little more substantial like Chicken and Wheatberry Salad, Chickpeas and Red Lentils, or Quinoa and Chicken with Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Ideally, I tend to go for options that include:

  • Whole grains as a source of healthy carbs to keep blood sugar stable (instead of refined carbs that are high in sugar and send me into a sleepy coma), like quinoa, wild or brown rice, wheat berries, etc.
  • A lean protein source to give the meal staying power, like tuna, chicken, chickpeas and other beans, or tofu.
  • Plenty of veggies for fiber, vitamins and minerals
  • Healthy fats, like olive oil or salmon, which help the body to absorb nutrients in fruits and vegetables more effectively.

8. Have something to look forward to after work.

It might be getting together with friends for drinks after work, going out for dinner or a movie, or maybe (and bonus points if you pick this one!) it’s attending your favourite spinning instructor’s cycling class. ;) Anticipating something fun can help keep your spirits and energy levels lifted.

9. Find some good music!

This is another one of my favourites and it works instantly! Different people have different preferences, for example, one of my friends works best listening to classical music. For me, that’s a lullaby that’ll have me asleep in 10 minutes. I prefer a faster beat if I’m needing energy, or some chilled-out tunes if I just need a mood booster. For example, this one (and as a side note, I’m not sure I’d like to have this many spectators whilst laying in my bed, but a good song nevertheless)…

… and stay tuned, because tomorrow I’ve got more happy tunes AND a delicious smoothie recipe to post. I’ll give you a hint: it involves one of these:

Don’t say I never do anything nice for you!!

Alright, it’s your turn!

  • What are your best tips for staying energized at work throughout the afternoon?
  • Lets chat about music. What type do you work best with? Rock? Pop? Classical? Country (please say no)? None at all?

Comments

  1. says

    I hit a wall yesterday, and I hit it haaarrrd. I got up for a little walk, which helped, but I was still dragging. Hopefully today goes a little better!

  2. says

    awesome tips, angela! thanks for the ideas. for me, taking a quick walk/just getting a change of scenery really helps rev up my internal engine if i hit a slump. i esp like that idea from mr trainer about squeezing a pop can between your shoulders. and this is off topic, but i love the mustard yellow wall in your kitchen!
    music: i can’t work with music, i need quiet. but i love dance music for working out or cleaning the house – fast tempo, upbeat stuff.

  3. says

    Great suggestions angela! I do ALL of the above! I try to move at least once an hour! Sometimes I go to the bathroom and do a few squats or leg lifts when no one is in there (my secret). But yea, it gets me out of that aftenroon slump! Stretching is also SO important and staying hydrated! Usually when I start to get a mild headache it is bc I notice my water bottle has been neglected! I also try to chew gum. I know it’s not the best habit but it keeps me from reaching for things like chocolate when I’m just plain tired and sick of work!

    • says

      I agree on the gum! Even though I try not to because my gum chewing can get a bit excessive (and I was supposed to be giving it up a while ago!), it does seem to help me keep chugging away through work. I’ve also read that there have been studies that show it can boost concentration, so why not, right? There are certainly worse things you could do!

  4. Ashley says

    I try to bring an 2pm smoothie with me everyday. But since I don’t get to leave at lunch time I make a bunch on Sunday night and freeze them in Ball freezer plastic jars (by the canning stuff). Then I just grab one out of the freezer in the morning stick it in my lunch bag and it’s thawed to the proper consistency by snack time. I just started doing this recently and I love it!!

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