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How to Beat Your Afternoon Slump: Get Instantly Energized Without Caffeine

Oct 29, 2022

19 Natural Ways to Beat Your Afternoon Slump:

Get Instantly Energized Without Caffeine

It happens like clockwork. You're crushing it in the morning, checking projects off your list, working your inbox towards zero, fighting the urge to scroll through reels (but the hamsters eating sandwiches are so compelling...) Then suddenly your eyelids are drooping, mind unable to focus and you may as well pull down the shades, go full jammies, and curl up right there. The 2pm slump has struck again.

For many people, the well known "afternoon slump" begins kicking in right around 1-3pm.  It can make you less efficient and productive, increasing the likelihood of not completing tasks, getting behind, or working late. 

Here are some natural ways to beat fatigue before it shows up unwelcome.


1. Preempt with Zone 2

Get your heart rate slightly up and your breathing just above normal comfort with light cardiovascular exercise.  A post lunch walk for 15 to 20 minutes works wonders by decreasing post meal blood sugar spikes, improving lymphatic flow, and supporting mitochondrial health. Fatigue will have nothing on your finely primed metabolism.

2. Try the Trapezius Twist

Shoulders slumped forward, head hanging heavy- how can your body not think it's nap time?  A quick change in posture can send signals to your brain that it's still time to be awake.  Activating your trapezius and upper body with this easy, energizing movement can help increase alertness and improve posture.

Come to a comfortable standing position if you're able. Cross your arms lightly across your lower chest and hold opposite elbows with your hands.  Begin gently but quickly rotating your torso, bringing your elbows back and forth across your chest.  As you start crossing over your body, begin simultaneously lifting your elbows up from your low chest, to your mid chest, and finally up as high as you can while still gently rotating your torso.  Do this for about 30 seconds.  Repeat as often as you like, perhaps even every time you get up from your desk.

3. Invite your afternoon meeting partners on a walk

Changing the scenery for your afternoon meetings helps with creative thinking.  Getting outside and breathing fresh air improves energy and mood. A win-win.

4. Stand up

Try a standing desk and get yourself up right for afternoon work. Staying on your feet improves your focus and may even improve longevity. 

5. Step away from the screens

If you spend your day staring at screens, give your eyes a break and shift your gaze.  Eye strain can contribute to overall fatigue.  Give the 20/20/20 rule a go. Every 20 minutes, shift your gaze away from your screen and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  


6. Avoid blood sugar swings

Blood sugar highs and lows add fuel to the fire of fatigue.  When possible, systemize the order in which you eat certain food groups.  Start with that side salad (leafy greens or high fiber foods), followed by protein, then healthy fats, with carbs like rice and sugar coming in last.

7. Cut back on sweets

Craving that sugary treat? It's a sign that your blood sugar could be crashing and while another sugar laden treat may provide a quick boost, it will keep you on the blood sugar rollercoaster and leave you crashing again in a short time.

8. Start your day strong with protein

Getting 30 grams of protein for breakfast can help with energy throughout the day. Try reaching for high quality animals proteins such as wild-caught salmon or free range chicken sausage or plant proteins such as chia seeds, quinoa or chickpeas.

9. Eat before you chug your coffee

Caffeine on an empty stomach is a quick way to drive up cortisol and deplete nutrients.  This will put you on the fast track of an energy rollercoaster that leaves you dragging as the caffeine wears off and your body has spent its nutrient stores and making your body more likely to hold on to fat stores.  Eating food first lets your body recognize that it has resources to rely on and sustainably jumpstarts your cortisol awakening response to provide you with energy that will last.

10. Hydrate with electrolyte water

Water on its own is actually not very hydrating.  Water with electrolytes is much better absorbed so you get the benefits of what you drink.  Some excellent electrolyte water supplements are LMNT or Nuun.  They create a proper hypotonic solution that ensures your body absorbs the water and electrolytes rather than pulling water out of your body.  Some popular "sports" drinks that are loaded with sugar are actually so stuffed up that they pull water OUT of the body and leave you more dehydrated. 

11. Afternoon tea time

Try sipping on a green tea after lunch.  It has a small amount of caffeine as well as catechins that support gut health. These catechins provide antioxidant support that help protect your cells, including your mitochondria- where your energy is made.

12. Swap your evening booze for a mocktail

Your evening libation to unwind could be disrupting your sleep.  This will leave you feeling unrested when you wake up and make it more likely that you'll be running on steam by the time afternoon rolls around. Skipping the booze may help get you off the rollercoaster.

Rest & Recharge

13. Harness the power of the sun

Step outside in the morning for some natural morning light.  Whether its sunny or gloomy, your body sets its circadian rhythm with natural light, keeping you alert during the day and improving sleep at night.

14. Get your beauty sleep

Those 8 hours of sleep at night are good for more than radiant, youthful looks.  Getting plenty of sleep allows your body to repair itself from the strain of the day and is the only time your brain flushes itself out. This will boost your energy and mental clarity to keep you running full steam.

15. Power nap

Fatigue is a signal from your body that it needs to focus internally. Naps can be a quick way to reboot.  Try taking a quick 15-20 minute power nap.  You can drink some green tea before you shut your eyes and the caffeine will be kicking in when your alarm goes off so that you'll be able to crush what you have on the agenda next.

16. Tune in and turn it up

Play some of your favorite energizing music to get your body in the rhythm.  Music helps lift your mood. Bonus if it makes you want to move and groove which helps increase your energy.

17. Step in the light

Open up those blinds and let the light come in! Increasing exposure to natural light is a free and easy way to harness your body's natural energy stores.

18. Laugh it out

Laughter is medicine for the soul. Laughter also decreases tension that could be draining your energy unnecessarily.  It lifts your mood and spirits to keep you keepin' on like nothing is weighing you down (*POV: making notes that memes have a purpose after all*).

19. Look deeper for the root

We've all been there in the throes of the afternoon slump but that doesn't mean it's "normal" for you to feel that way.  Listen to your body.  Fatigue and energy crashes are signals that something may be off internally. 

If you've tried natural remedies and they don't offer much help, look deeper for what your body is trying to tell you.  Root causes of an afternoon slump may be conditions such as metabolic endotoxemia, blood sugar dysregulation, cortisol fluctuations, nutrient insufficiencies, or toxic overload.

A Functional Medicine provider or Integrative specialist can support you in understanding your body and get you solutions. 

May you have everything you need for healing,

Christine Simons, DNP, NP-C 


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