If you’ve ever experienced that 3pm wane in energy, you know that the afternoon slump is no joke. It can feel like you’ve hit a wall, and that your brain is simply taking a mini vacation, with no intention to return to duty.
When you’re working on a deadline or just have a lot to get done, what do you do? Do you try to power through, despite everything taking double the time to complete? Or do you step away for a bit?
This is something I’ve been struggling with a lot since leaving my corporate job to work for myself, full-time, and at home. I’m an extrovert, and the added layer of little human contact takes its toll on my energy levels. While I don’t experience the afternoon slump every single day, there are times I feel like I’m in a fog for several hours in the afternoon, which is incredibly frustrating.
While I’m no scientist, it seems clear to me that this is our brain’s way of saying “hold up” and “time out”. It’s asking us to slow down, switch gears, and recalibrate before coming back to a project or task.
Here are some ways to do that the next time you can’t help but yawn mid-afternoon.
#1. Give your eyes a break.
One of the best ways I’ve found to recharge is to stop looking at a screen. I sit in front of my computer almost the entire day, and spend more time than I’d like to admit on my phone or watching TV. I think many of you can probably relate.
I’d highly encourage you to do something different. Some of my favourite break activities are journalling and free form brainstorming. These activities all tie into a deeper sense of purpose, and get me out of my head and more into my heart.
#2. Give your mind a break.
Sometimes, you need to just stop the wheels from turning and give your mind a break. Meditate, take a nap, go for a walk, or just sit outside.
If you’re new to meditating (like me!), I recommend listening to a guided meditation on the Insight Timer app, or just sitting quietly for 5 minutes and focusing on your breath.
Looking for more? My post The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: How to Get Started is a great resource.
#3. Get some fresh air.
Breathing in some fresh air and getting outside for a few minutes can be really powerful. I find that even just walking to the mailbox to ship orders from my Etsy shop can leave me with more energy.
If the weather is nice where you are, sit in the shade, go for a little walk, or even read outside. If it’s not, maybe you can run an errand or two outside to get the same impact. In the winter, I shovel our driveway as a mid-afternoon break! It gives me something to do and makes the cold more bearable. I listen to a podcast on my phone as a distraction which helps too.
#4. Use a different part of your brain.
If you absolutely need to be productive, try engaging a different part of your brain.
Been using your mind too much? Try tackling a more physical task. This could be cleaning, doing some meal prep, or throwing in a load of laundry, for example.
Or have you been spending all day on strategy? Maybe it’s time to switch things up and focus on a creative task.
Doing so lets you cross something off your to do list while stepping away from your typical work.
Work in an office? Try tidying your desk at work, organizing folders, or another nagging task that isn’t super mind-consuming.
#5. Get moving.
Movement is a great way to take a meaningful break and also cater to your body which has probably been sitting in a chair all day. Stretch, do some light yoga, or take a quick walk. If you work in an office, this may look like grabbing a coffee from a coffee shop that’s further than normal, to give yourself a few extra minutes of movement.
First, if you find yourself getting burnt out at work frequently, I highly suggest using the Pomodoro Technique. As I share in this blog post, working in time intervals is a fantastic way to keep your mind fresh.
Second, consider switching up your work hours (if possible!) to cater to your most productive times. As I talk more about in this post, there’s power in planning your work around the times that work best for you. You may find that you work best, say, 9am-2pm, and then for a few more hours in the evening. This may be harder to accomplish if you’re not self employed, but still worth giving some thought to.
Leave me a comment and let me know which of these tips resonated with you. How do you go about beating the afternoon slump? I’d love to know!
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