Sometime between 2 and 4 p.m., many people experience a sleepiness attack or a drop in energy. It’s a natural consequence of the body’s circadian rhythms, the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur around the clock. But now that it’s getting darker earlier (thanks to Daylight Savings Time) these natural biological rhythms shift, and there’s an even greater chance that your mood and energy could sag in the late afternoon. Fortunately, you don’t have to give in to this slump; you can fight it—and win!—with some smart strategies. Here’s how:
Have an energizing snack. If it’s been several hours since you ate, treat yourself to a nutritious, alertness-boosting snack such as Greek yogurt with blueberries, hummus with baby carrots, or a handful of almonds and an apple. By combining complex carbs with protein and healthy fat, you’ll provide your body with a slower, more sustained rise in blood sugar that will translate into longer-lasting energy and feelings of fullness. Drink some cold water with your snack, and you’ll jolt yourself into alertness.
Expose yourself. Walk around the block and get some fresh air. Take a pre-emptive strike and expose yourself to natural light before dusk settles in. If you can’t sneak outside, spend a few minutes sitting in a sunny window. Exposure to natural sunlight can boost your mood and your energy.
Do some invigorating breathing exercises. As you exhale fully through your mouth, make a whooshing sound with your breath; then, close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose for five seconds. Hold your breath for a count of six, then slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of seven, making that whooshing sound again. Repeat this pattern five times, and you’ll feel more alert and energized.
Move your body. Get up from your chair and do some stretching exercises for your neck, shoulders, upper back, arms, and legs. Sitting for long stretches can make you feel tired because your body equates stillness with the desire to go to sleep. Moving will help you snap out of that soporific lull.
Use good scents. Harness the power of aromatherapy to lift your spirits. Choose spicy or citrus scents that have an exhilarating effect—such as ginger or cinnamon, lemon or lime, or grapefruit. Dab an essential oil (in one of these scents) on your pulse points, slather on a scented moisturizer, or light a scented candle—and take a whiff.
Check your posture. Whether you’re sitting or standing, make sure your head is lined up over your body (not in front of it) and your ears are directly above your shoulders. Making these corrections will help you avoid neck and back strain, which can lead to fatigue, and it will improve the flow of oxygen to your brain, which can enhance alertness.
Treat yourself to upbeat music. Just as listening to soothing music can help reduce your blood pressure and relieve stress, tuning into faster tempo music (120 beats per minute or higher) can rev up your energy. So make a rousing playlist and keep those ear buds handy!