7 tips to help you beat the 10am and 3pm office slumps.
You know that feeling you get when your eyes get super heavy, you start to yawn and all you want to do is a George Costanza and crawl under your desk for a nap.
Yep, I used to know this feeling very well!! We get to the office, finally sit down at our desk, start checking emails and getting organised for the day….10am hits and you get that same feeling when you begin getting tired while driving….your concentration wanders and you just can’t keep your eyes open, and you're like WTF, it is only 10am..So you start checking your phone and doing everything else but work to keep yourself from literally falling asleep at your desk….. So you walk into the tearoom/kitchen, make a coffee/tea have a biscuit or run down stairs or across the road for a coffee (your 3rd one for the morning)…Then in the afternoon, the 3pm slump hits and you say to yourself, if I can just survive a few more hours... then you start looking for a sugar hit.....
Be warned though, adopting these 7 tips may lead to better sleep, more alertness, more productivity and actually having an awesome routine...
1. Sleep your way to the top...
Well metaphorically speaking.. start sleeping better and you will start performing better!
While the pun isn’t intended, it did resonate with me as I was struggling to switch of before bed. Sleep is one of, if not the most crucial part of your routine. Sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique, and is tortuous to your routine. We all know how we feel when we are deprived of sleep—our bodies and minds cannot, and do not, function properly. We have all come to work having had a bad night’s sleep and are cranky, edgy, flat, and feeling like we are hungover when we aren’t. We have also all had an awesome night’s sleep and come to work energised, happy, and ready to crush anything that comes our way. While some people can function at high levels on limited sleep, your body—and more importantly your brain—requires this time to reboot, re-energise, and manage your stress levels and your weight.
Did you know that sleeping poorly regularly will lead to increased susceptibility to health-related issues as your immune system and hormone levels will begin to falter. You will be more vulnerable to illness and you will inevitably make poor choices when it comes to the food you eat. Why? Because stress caused by lack of sleep causes you to crave the quickest form of energy there is…..sugar. Think about this, when we are stressed, even though we don’t feel like eating, you will also start to gain weight, as the fight or flight response is getting ready to store fat because your body doesn’t know whether you are stressed because of work or because you are being chased by a lion who is going to eat you. So even if you don’t eat because of stress, your body’s natural response is to store fat for the perceived emergency.
As you are functioning at an elite level every day, your senses are so stimulated it takes longer for you and your mind to unwind. So get a good night’s sleep and start creating a bed-time routine.
2. Create a bed-time routine
Monitor what you eat and the size of the meal before you go to bed, as certain foods and drinks can and will give you a bad night’s sleep. For example, if I have a coffee after 3pm I will have a bad night’s sleep, and if I have pigged out on a buffet and my tummy is so full that it’s hard to breathe, or if I have eaten really rich foods (Thai food with MSG) I’ll have bad night sleep. So be super mindful of this.
Avoid being over stimulated before you goto bed.. (well apart from sex.. lol) turn the TV off, put the phone away and on silent, set your alarm (which sets your intention for the morning). Do all this at least 20 minutes before you actually go to bed. TVs, computers, and phones all emit light, which suppresses the hormone that makes us sleepy. iPhones have a cool setting where you swipe up from your home screen and a screen will pop up which has a button “Night Shift”. Tap this button at night and the screen will turn a a duller orange colour, make sure to use this at night.
3. Take breaks
Just like an athlete rests between work outs, so should you. It’s hard to keep your mind on the task at hand when you start to notice yourself becoming side-tracked or tired, so take breaks between your daily jobs/tasks of between 10-15minutes. Go for a walk around the office, or to the cafe to get a snack, BUT make sure you if you are snacking to only eat food that will fuel your brain. Red Bull, soft drinks, and sugary food are not fuel for you or your brain, but are artificial stimulants that will cause your blood sugar to spike and cause you to crash. If you have your morning routine down pat and you have had a “breakfast of champions”—whether it was the smoothie, the bacon, eggs and avocado, or the bulletproof coffee—the fats in these foods will have you feeling satiated and you should not feel hungry until about lunch time, and instead be powering through your day.
Taking breaks is also a great opportunity for you to “check in” with yourself to see if you are on track with your day. If you find you are stressed close your door or find a quiet place in the office and practice this quick breathing exercise:
Sit and concentrate on your breathing. Put one hand on your tummy and one on your chest to make sure you are not inhaling into your chest, and feel yourself inhale into your tummy. Take a deep breath in through your nose and count to 4–8 as you inhale (how long depends on your comfort level). Then breathe out slowly through your mouth and again count to 4–8 as you exhale. Repeat this for 1–3 minutes with your eyes closed, concentrating entirely on your breathing. If you have limited time, try to do this for at least a minute, and remember to concentrate on your breath as that is the key.
4. Get up and move
Incidental exercise is awesome!! Take the long way to get to a meeting, go for a walk in your lunch break to get lunch or, instead of catching a lift or escalator, take the stairs wherever possible. If you work on any of the first three floors, always take the stairs. Leave a little earlier for a meeting and walk there instead of catching a cab. Get dropped off from your destination a few blocks earlier and walk. Get off the bus/train a few stops earlier and walk. I always take the stairs at airports if they are next to the escalator without a second thought and try to avoid the travelators where you can.
5. Mid-morning tummy rumble
If you do get the mid-morning tummy rumble, here is what to do. Remember to keep drinking water, as your body may mistake hunger for dehydration, so drink a glass of water and see how you feel. If you are still hungry, these simple foods and eating tips will get you through to lunch.
Nuts: Buy a Trail Mix: Almonds, walnuts, macadamias, seeds mixed (with limited dried fruit)—all these nuts and seeds make a successful combination of fats and carbs and will fuel you and your brain until lunch (so keep some nuts in your desk drawer).
Here is some info on nuts….Walnuts—ever wonder why they look like your brain? It’s because they are awesome for brainpower and full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which will boost your brainpower.
Protein bars: A tip—buy paleo bars from health-food stores (the less ingredients the better, 5 max.. for example…coconut, dates (this is where the sugar connect on the bar will come from) coconut oil, cacao and nuts - almonds or macadamias, or if you have time, buy the ingredients and make your own at home and bring to work. Click this link to my go-to paleo bar snack
My wife has an e-book called Treat Your Taste Buds—you can find it at http://www.the-gratitude-project.com/store/ and make your own healthy snacks to keep at your desk.
Protein shake: Buy organic plant-based protein powder from your local health food store (avoid the powders with fillers and man made chemicals) and bring it into the office, this is what I have and they come I’m super easy to carry around little satchels… check em out here..
6. Food and drinks to avoid
Any artificially caffeinated diet drinks or sodas, so pretty much all your energy drinks, chocolate bars, energy bars, diet bars, or your typical muesli bars all contain massive amounts of preservatives and added sugar which get absorbed into your bloodstream quicker.. and while you will be on a sugar high for a period of time, you will eventually crash, crave more sugar, become grumpy and temperamental, and not think straight. So if you make poor food choices at snack time, you will start to drift off at work, your productivity will decrease, and you will start to underperform.
7. The afternoon slump
3pm hits and you’ve found yourself surfing the web, checking Facebook and Instagram, and thinking about what to have for dinner. Make sure if you are doing this that it is in your 10–15 minute breakS!! In the afternoon, make sure you check in with yourself to make sure you are on track, that you refuel and regroup for the last leg of the day. If you are like me and have a sweet tooth, eat dark chocolate (70% as a minimum). Good quality dark chocolate is a winner and will have you kicking goals after lunch.
Fun Fact: Cacao is the highest plant-based form of iron and magnesium which is great for your heart and brain by helping turn glucose into energy. Raw cacao boasts the four scientifically-proven chemicals associated with feeling happy and less stressed: serotonin, tryptophan, anandamide (the “bliss chemical), and phenylethylamine (a chemical the brain produces when we fall in love).
Alternatively, I buy paleo bars from the local health food store—they are a moist combination of all your healthy fats: nuts, mixed with coconut oil, and the only sugar they have is from the dates they are mixed with. I can assure you they will stop you reaching for sweets or chocolate, and they will fill and power you up for the last few hours of the day.
If you are craving caffeine, have a black or green tea instead—it is amazing how a green tea satisfies the afternoon coffee craving.
If you a have brought fruit to work, now is the time to eat it. You are on the home stretch—grab that apple or banana, and chomp down. The fructose (sugar in the fruit) will give you the energy you need to make it through the rest of the day and keep the momentum going in those last couple of hours.