By Donna Lakinger
The dreaded afternoon slump—it’s a real thing!
It’s only 2:00pm and you can’t stop thinking, “How will I possibly make it through the rest of the afternoon, let alone the evening?!”
We expect a lot out of ourselves—more often than not, we expect too much.
We set unrealistic expectations and to-do lists that require us to have superpowers to get everything done!
If you can’t decrease the to-do list, you can work smarter and not harder.
We have so many behaviors and habits that sabotage our health and our goals.
But what if I told you that there are simple things you can do in your everyday life that make the days easier?
STEP #1: SLEEP
The first tip is a no brainer, but one we don’t take very seriously.
Our good friend sleep can drastically improve our productivity, focus, and energy levels.
I’m sure as soon as I mentioned that word, you instantly thought of the reasons how or why you can’t get enough sleep.
Here is the reality: you cannot properly function as a human being without adequate sleep.
I don’t care how much coffee in the world you chug, it does not make up for the health benefits you get through getting enough sleep.
You have to make it a priority.
If you have kids, do they have a bedtime? Is it strictly enforced?
Now, I KNOW bedtime for kids can be a nightly struggle.
A routine is one way that can help ease that, and actually get your kids excited for bed.
Subconsciously, as we go through our winding down routine, our bodies are getting ready for sleep instead of fighting it.
For your kids, maybe it’s always a bath after dinner.
Maybe it’s always a song or a story.
Maybe it’s saying goodnight to the favorite toys.
Any way you can make it an enjoyable routine will help.
The next question is, if your kids have a bedtime, do YOU?
This is especially important.
So often we start to check emails, watch TV, scroll facebook, and just do unnecessary things that are keeping us awake.
Try to create a routine for yourself.
Maybe it’s an evening bath or shower, followed with some lavender spray and a book or some music or meditation.
Try to create a routine that calms your body and prepares you for sleep (and stick to that bedtime!).
Sleep not only helps your energy levels, but it can improve your mental health like mood and memory, as well as your physical health—like weight and a healthy heart.
Now go get some sleep! 😉
STEP #2: EAT FOOD THAT FENDS OFF THE MIDDAY SLUMP
The foods you eat during the day will directly affect how you feel in the afternoon.
How many times have you had a heavy lunch and then had your eyes halfway closed through an afternoon meeting?
Here’s a secret though: It doesn’t even need to be heavy to have that effect.
Meals and snacks that are mostly carbohydrate-based will make you more tired in the afternoon.
Let’s say you had oatmeal and toast for breakfast, a banana for a snack, and a bagel sandwich for lunch.
That doesn’t sound too bad right?
You have had all carbohydrates!
You want to find a balance of each food type.
The more balanced your meal, the more balanced your energy.
So to improve that day, you could still have the oatmeal, but add in some eggs scrambled with veggies topped with avocado.
Now you’ve added protein, fat and vegetables along with your carbs!
For a snack, pairing the banana with some peanut butter will add in protein and fat, and something as simple as a few cherry tomatoes on the side can help get those veggies in.
For lunch, skip the bagel and replace it with a baked potato topped with shredded chicken, cottage cheese, red onion, scallions and salt & pepper!
Add in a side of nuts and you’ve got your fat added.
Stay balanced with food, and you will stay balanced with energy.
STEP #3: HYDRATE
Speaking of food, what about hydration?
Being dehydrated negatively affects your energy levels.
If it’s 2:00 pm and all you’ve had so far to drink is two cups of coffee and some sweetened tea, you’re in T.R.O.U.B.L.E!
Start your day with a glass of water while you’re getting ready.
You can still have your coffee or tea, but when you finish a cup, replace it with another glass of water.
Have another glass with lunch, and another with your afternoon snack.
If you get sick of water all day, try adding different natural flavors.
Here are some yummy hacks for getting your water in:
- Add a slice of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit
- Add mint or basil leaves
- Squash up some berries
- Infusing it with melon such as cantaloupe or watermelon
These simple hacks can make all the difference when you’re trying to get your water in.
Other tricks to make sure you are drinking enough water:
- Set alarms to remind you.
- Write directly on a bottle with times to make sure you are hitting that level by that time.
- Put post-its on the wall and take them down as you drink a glass.
- Find a way that helps you enjoy drinking water, and it won’t be a chore. (Quick 3-5 minute dance party before drinking water anyone?
These are easy ways to increase your energy, without taking a lot of your time.
You’ve got more important things to worry about, so refuel yourself and you will have enough energy to burn through that to-do list!
Donna Lakinger is a health, wellness, and fitness coach who focuses on helping people get extreme results WITHOUT extreme measures. She believes in balance, not restriction. Donna has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and Bachelor’s Degree in Health Studies. To learn how to live a healthy balanced life without any crazy extremes, visit bucktowncrossfit.