The clock strikes 3pm (or whatever time you get groggy and apathetic), and you’re wishing you could be hanging out in elastic pants with your dog, a book, or maybe even straight up sleeping.
Or really anywhere besides work and preferably about to nap.
Perhaps you’ve already had coffee, and you have a few hours of work left to get done before the day is done. Reaching for yet another cup of coffee in this situation is something that I’ve struggled with for years. Back in Paramedic school I drank an entire pot of black coffee per day, and still ended up face down in my textbooks more often than not.
Maybe sometime I’ll tell you all the story about how sleep deprived Marybeth fell asleep on her keyboard at work one time and then had to run an EMS call with the keyboard key imprint front and center on her forehead. My point is:
When we keep piling on the coffee, we end up dehydrated, possibly jittery, and not really that much better off – or even worse off, if it impacts our sleep for the night.
That’s why we’re talking about 5 coffee free ways to beat the afternoon slump. Let’s get into it.
Change your surroundings
This is first on the list because it’s my favorite option.
Although not all of us have the option to go outside or have multiple work areas (especially if we work in a huge office building or hospital), we can almost always take a little stroll around the office and get away from our desk in some way. Whether it’s for 2 minutes or 20 minutes, you’ll come back more alert and feel refreshed. Since I work at home much of the time, my favorite version of this is to take my dog, Mr. Clarence, on a little stroll while listening to music. If I’m really feeling stagnant in the home office despite my standing desk – I head to the screened in porch or a coffee shop.
This brings us to the next tip:
Listen to a good playlist
Either create your own playlist that makes you feel energized or use one made by someone else, like me.
Music has an amazing ability to change our moods and make us more pumped to do pretty much anything. If you’re at work around other people, put in those headphones for a few minutes and get in the right mindset to put in work. You can always incorporate this with tip 1, and listen to music while you stroll and change your scenery. If you work from home, find music that makes you feel like dancing, and dance it up like no one is watching (because if someone is watching it’s probably housemates, pets, or a random delivery person).
Try breathing exercises and gentle movement
Any of you that have ever attended a yoga or meditation class, know that at the end of the class there’s a bit of a “yoga buzz” from deep breathing and moving your body.
You don’t have to attend a class to get similar effects, and this can be done right in your work area. Try incorporating simple movement like this Mid-Day Break Yoga from yours truly that doesn’t even require a mat or change of clothes (I filmed it in jeans, as you’ll see).
You can get as fancy as you want, but my favorite option is to find some stillness, and become aware of my breath while thinking about things that I’m grateful for. Try breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds, and out through your mouth for 5 seconds, repeating as many times as you need.
Matcha Green Tea
Sometimes even though you try all of the alternatives above you still need a lil’ caffeine boost, and that’s okay. This is when I suggest trying alternatives like Matcha Green Tea. You can read all about the health benefits in this post, and the matcha powder itself can be incorporated in both beverages and recipes, like these Matcha Mint Chip Energy Balls.
There are many matcha powders on the market (I’m a fan of Encha matcha), but just make sure you get a well-sourced ceremonial grade powder and steer clear of the “matcha tea” in tea bags, as it only contains a fraction of the nutrients and will taste like dirt.
Take a Nap
If you’ve tried everything, and you’re still nodding off…take a nap.
This especially goes for those of us that work nontraditional hours in nontraditional locations. Whether it’s a long EMS shift, or a long day working from home, sometimes a quick 20-minute nap is just what we need to get energized. This is a strategy that personally makes me feel a little more sluggish upon waking, but I know several people who swear by it and wake up ready to take on the world after 15-20 minutes.
Try all of these out, find what works for you, and drop your other suggestions in the comment section below.
I would love to hear them!
To avoid a hopeless slump all together, set yourself up for success by breaking up your work into short bursts of productivity, mixed with smaller breaks to diffuse and energize.
For example; when writing and formatting this blog, I worked for 40 minutes at a time, and for the remaining 20 minutes made a smoothie, stretched, and called people that I love. All of these 5 Coffee Free Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump can be incorporated into your daily routine, even if you’re not a coffee drinker.
Happy Mid-Day non-slumping!
Interested in diving deeper into mindfulness practices, healthy routines, and intentionally creating the life you’ve always dreamed of?