It’s 3:00 p.m. and you can barely keep focused. Your eyes close as you’re sitting at your computer and you wish you could lie down for a little nap! You can’t figure out why this slump hits you so hard. The following are some reasons for your dip in energy along with wellness and stress-relief strategies that can keep you energized the entire day!
1) Are you just plain tired? Perhaps you’re not sleeping enough. (Seven to nine hours of sleep each night are highly recommended for concentration, mood and achieving a healthy balance.) Or do you get up often during the night? So what’s on your mind? Are you over committed, taking on too many tasks, or personal responsibilities? If poor sleep is consistently a problem, seek medical help to get into a healthy sleep pattern. You can try some Sleepytime tea or other natural remedies such as 5HTP. Check with a nutritionist or other health professional for any contra-indications.
2) Are you the worrying type? You may have a sick parent or child or relationship problems to contend with. Eventually, you become mentally fatigued. Explore how you can get some help with the care for a loved one. Or make an appointment with a psychologist or other counsellor for help with your relationship.
3) Go for a brisk walk when you’re feeling tired in the afternoon. Physical activity helps to bring oxygen into your muscles. Or do some stretches away from your computer.
4) Take a short power nap – deep breathing techniques, gentle breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth for a few minutes to calm the mind and help you feel rested fast.
5) Are you dehydrated? Drink a glass of water. The brain is 60% water that constantly needs replenishing.
6) Balance your glucose and fuel your brain with nutrients.
Did you eat enough protein at lunch? Protein is made up of amino acids that perk up the brain. Animal protein such as chicken, fish, beef on occasion, and low fat cheese are excellent choices. Some good vegetarian protein choices include lentils and beans along with whole grains. When you eat the protein in your meal first, the amino acid tyrosine wakes up the brain. Then when you eat the carbohydrates, the tryptophan in those carbohydrates that normally relax the brain will have less effect. Therefore, to wake up the brain, eat a high protein lunch and eat the protein before the carbohydrates. To feel more alert after lunch, don’t overload on carbohydrates. An excess will make you initially feel happy as serotonin is boosted, but shortly after you may feel sleepy as blood sugar dips.
Adding a little fat will help balance the meal and keep you energized and fuller longer. Fats are major components of the brain cell membrane and the myelin sheath around each nerve. Nutritious fats include butter, olive oil, olives, avocado, almond or peanut butter. Also, coconut oil is delicious and a brain booster. Try it melted on steamed vegetables.
7) Cut back on processed foods. White bread, white rice, pasta, heavy sauces, soda pop, and sugary desserts that are often eaten at lunch go through the usual complicated digestion process. The body gets back little in the way of nutrients for all its trouble. You become exhausted.
8) Skip alcohol at lunch. (You may just have a hangover!)
9) Running on empty? You may not have eaten enough breakfast – grabbing a piece of toast or processed muffin from a donut shop. Then lunch is skipped or you gulp down a quick sandwich. No wonder your energy dips by 3:00 p.m. Imbalanced or skipped meals play havoc with blood sugar levels as your fuel dips low. Fill up your tank!
10) Use power snacks to recharge energy. Some choices include: a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and fruit, cheese and whole grain crackers (or fruit). Vegetable soup and a slice of cheese, yogurt and blueberries with pecans are other whole food snacks that provide energy. Some power bars (with protein) are okay – those with nuts or seeds or whey protein, as long as they are not high in sugar.
11) Consider taking a high quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement each day. Research has shown an improvement of mood and boosted energy, (especially with formulas that contain a high B vitamin level). Also, a fish oil capsule each day is another brain booster. Again, check with a health professional for any potential health contra-indications.