Your eyelids are drooping. You’re stifling a yawn. The drool on the table may or may not be yours. You’re trying to focus on this afternoon meeting called to recap this morning’s meeting, but it’s proving difficult, considering that your boss looks remarkably like a giant, talking cup of coffee wearing khakis and gesturing at a PowerPoint slide. It’s 2pm and you’re crashing.
Your boss isn’t entirely to blame, not that the monotonous droning helps. Research shows that our sleep signals peak not only at night, but during the afternoon, too — aka right around that time you start wondering whether you can sneak an air mattress into the copy room.
The bad news? The PowerPoint presentation isn’t about to get any more stimulating. The good news? A super-sized cup of coffee isn’t the only — or best — cure for your afternoon fatigue. Back away from the Keurig machine and perk up naturally with these energy boosters:
We get it — when you’re zapped of energy, you feel like you’re living in a game of “everything is quicksand.” But fight the urge to move in slow motion: speedy thinking (like a quick brainstorming session) can actually give you a boost in energy, mood, and creativity.
When your office smells like a wet sock and a burnt Lean Cuisine meal had a baby, reach for a lemon-scented candle. The aromatherapy benefits of most scents haven’t been totally proven, but lemon is an exception. Lemon scents are shown to enhance mood and elevate levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter and hormone that keeps you perky and alert.
Sit up straight
If you’re in the habit of hunching over your keyboard like you’re perpetually on the brink of crouching into Crow Pose, it’s not just your back that’s paying the price. Bad posture also prevents you from breathing deeply, and less oxygen in your system means less energy. Straighten out and you’ll see improvement in your energy levels, mood, and even self-esteem.
You may not feel like you’re dehydrated, but that doesn’t mean your body and mind aren’t feeling the effects. Though you likely won’t start feeling thirsty until you lose 1-2% of your body’s normal water volume, just a 1.5% loss has been shown to cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a drop in mood. You’re even more likely to perceive tasks as more difficult than they are when you’re mildly dehydrated… which might explain why you were muttering and directing thinly veiled threats at the office paper shredder.
Chew on this
Breaking your biggest bubble record is a noble goal, sure, but chewing gum might just snap you out of those midday mehs, too. Research shows that chewing gum increases alertness by 10%.
Okay, so the office parking lot doesn’t exactly qualify as “the great outdoors,” but it’ll do. Taking a mid-day stroll outside can increase creativity and energy, and if you’ve got a park or a tree-lined street nearby, you’ll get an even bigger boost.
Watching videos of cats trying to fit into small boxes isn’t just an emotional thrill ride, it can actually make you better at your job, too. Turns out that taking a break to stay up to date on Maru’s adventures can actually improve your mood and increase your energy, according to the most important research on the internet. Cat videos not your thing, for some reason? Anything that elicits a chuckle will help — studies show that laughing increases blood flow throughout the body and releases endorphins, helping you feel more awake and alert.