I'm not sure whether it's down to the change in the seasons, or simply because of my heavier-than-normal workload – but the past few weeks have seen my afternoon energy levels at an all-time low. I’ve even found myself succumbing to the temptation of an afternoon nap (which I'll be honest, is more like a full-blown siesta) on more than one occasion… the pleasures and the perils of working from home, right?
Whilst the freedom to nap at will is something I dreamt of on a near daily basis when I worked in an office, the reality of it leaves me feeling groggy, disrupts my night-time sleep patterns and – worst of all – means I end up having to make up the hours lost by working late into the night. Not ideal, so I've decided to take the necessary steps to counteract my postprandial desire to crawl into bed. If like me you regularly find yourself experiencing that familiar afternoon crash, read on for a few natural ways to boost your energy levels right now.
You probably already know that you should be aiming to drink 1.5 - 2 litres of water per day for clearer skin and all that other good stuff – but did you also know that drinking plenty of water is crucial for keeping your concentration levels up? Being dehydrated can make you feel sleepier than usual, so if you find yourself feeling sluggish, grab a glass of ice-cold water for an instant pick-me-up.
ACE YOUR WORKSPACE
A work environment creates work, a home environment creates… naps. I’ve begun eliminating the temptation of a mid-afternoon snooze by avoiding working from home in the afternoons as much as possible. If you’re a freelancer or regularly work from home, I’d highly recommend decamping to a local coffee shop or library after lunch.
One of the most common factors determining your energy levels is – surprise surprise – the fuel you put into your body. It’s natural to feel sleepy mid-afternoon due to the way our internal body clocks operate, but a heavy lunch will make you feel even more lethargic, so avoid carb-heavy lunches and aim for a protein-based meal instead. Stick to low-GI sides such as leafy vegetables, chickpeas or quinoa, and opt for brown rice and bread, not white. If you’re looking for something a little more filling for the colder months ahead, try baked sweet potatoes topped with baked beans, and lentil-based soups. Low-GI foods release energy slowly over time, as opposed to giving you a quick sugar-induced burst of energy followed by a slump that leaves you feeling tired and hungry all over again!
When the mid-afternoon hunger pangs come knocking, make sure you’ve got the right kind of snacks to hand. That means out with the chocolate and sugary junk food (sorry), and in with low-GI snacks such as popcorn, nuts, and rice cakes topped with hummus or peanut butter.
This one's a bit of a no-brainer – if you’re not sleeping properly, it’s going to seriously affect your daytime energy levels. Duh. Find out how you can improve your sleeping habits here.
Take a break. Stretch your legs. A bit of fresh air can do wonders for your energy levels, so if you feel yourself flagging, take five minutes to do a lap of the office or – even better – a lap of the block.
SWITCH IT UP
Now’s the perfect time to address all those smaller admin tasks on your to-do list, like filing or clearing your inbox. Constantly switching tasks and doing those little jobs that have a quick payoff is a great way to keep yourself stimulated.
Whether you work on your own or in an office, try organising meetings and work that involves talking to other people for this time of day. A bit of social interaction is a sure-fire way to perk you up.
Alright - now let's power on!