At last! Here we are in the third and final part of our office series called “Break the Habit”. In this series, I’ve outlined 3 bad habits that are easy to succumb to in an office environment and ways that you can combat them. In case you’re a little bit behind (blame it on the end of summer/beginning of school crazies), here are links to the intro article with some quick-fix tips, and also the 2 other office habits that might be holding you back covered a little bit more in-depth with long-term solutions:

Which brings us to today’s habit: the afternoon pick-me-up. We’ve all been there: it’s 2 or 3pm and we can barely keep our eyes open, let alone focus on the word document staring us in the face. What’s the next logical action? Grab some caffeine, of course! Before you know it, you’re buzzing on caffeine and it’s got you so jacked up that you have a hard time staying asleep at night. Then, because you didn’t sleep well, you’re tired again the next day. And the cycle repeats. It’s time to stop the madness! But how?! Here are some tips to help you beat the afternoon slump without having to memorize the location and hours of all of the nearest caffeine distributors in your area.

Get your Zzzs.

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 By prioritizing sleep, you’ll feel more energized during the day (duh!), and you may find that you don’t really need that afternoon pick-me-up after all. Try to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Ideally, you’ll go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, weekends included!

Stay Hydrated.

Dehydration can certainly contribute to an afternoon slump, so try to sip water throughout the day to prevent this issue. You’ll want to aim for about half of your body weight in ounces for a daily water goal. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you’ll want to drink about 80 ounces of water per day. Spacing it out evenly throughout the day can help you stay hydrated without feeling like you’re chugging water.

Eat regular, nutrient-dense meals.

If you haven’t eaten sufficient calories or nutrients, it makes sense that your body would feel tired by the afternoon. Try to get a good source of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in each meal with plenty of veggies to make sure you’ve got some good fuel in the tank!

Limit caffeine consumption to before lunch for the best chance of sleeping well at night.

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Everyone reacts differently to caffeine, but cutting off caffeine around lunchtime is a pretty safe time cap for most people. Monitor your personal sensitivity to caffeine. If you think that it doesn’t affect the quality of your sleep, you might try to limit caffeine to the mornings only for a week or two as an experiment to see how you do. You might be surprised!

Add some movement to your day.

When you feel tired at your desk, it might be time to get up and stretch or take a quick walk break to get your blood flowing. This is usually enough to give you some energy to focus on your task at hand. You don’t have to do some grandiose workout- a simple stroll around the office is a great place to start.

It’s your turn! Apply what you’ve learned:

  1. Read the list above to see if any of the suggestions leap out at you. Your intuition might tell you which item you should focus on first!
  2. Think about how you might apply that suggestion to your life. You don’t need to make all-or-nothing changes, rather small sustainable changes.
  3. As you practice this new behavior, start to notice how your energy levels change. What changes do you notice? Have your energy levels improved? Do you need to make other changes to your lifestyle to help you feel energized throughout the day?
  4. Reassess and adjust your goals to match your lifestyle and long-term goals.

You might discover that there are a few areas listed above that you’d like to continue to work on, but it would be wise to start with just one and then slowly add others in every month or so to avoid taking on too many changes too soon. Give one of these suggestions a try and let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear from you.