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    Avoiding the Afternoon Slump

man sitting at office desk, slumped over computer asleep

Americans are working harder than ever. Some workers toil nine to 10 hours each day, sometimes without any breaks. Does this sound like you? Breaks, especially lunch breaks, are vital to being successful on the job. You may be thinking you don’t have time for a lunch break in your busy day. In actuality, breaks help workers forge ahead with a higher rate of productivity. John Murphy, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System, says, “Taking a lunch break ensures that you will be able to face an afternoon full of work with renewed energy and confidence.”

Throughout a morning of hard work, your body accumulates many needs and hungers that must be addressed by lunchtime in order to continue work in the afternoon. The obvious need is a physical one that can only be fulfilled by food. Light and low-fat meals that include whole-grains, fruits and vegetables are recommended to fuel your body and keep you from craving an afternoon nap. Drinking water also leaves you refreshed and helps fight drowsiness.

In addition to meeting physical needs, your lunch break is time to rejuvenate your mind and spirit. It’s important to take time away from your blurred computer screen and stiff desk chair in order to concentrate on and complete your afternoon tasks. Here are a few examples of how to get the most out of your next lunch break:

  • Take a brisk walk.
  • Read an entertaining book or magazine.
  • Go shopping.
  • Call a friend.
  • Meditate.
  • Listen to your favorite music.

Your body is working hard on the job, so take care of it. Give your body the breaks it deserves. Even if you can only spare twenty or thirty minutes, use your lunch break as a time to re-energize. Lunch breaks will help you avoid the dreaded afternoon slump and forge ahead for a long afternoon of work.

If you do find yourself in an afternoon slump, Dr. Murphy has the following suggestions to get you back on track. Keep them posted at your desk for quick reference when you feel yourself dragging.

  1. Take five energizing deep breaths.
  2. Drink a glass of cold water or soothing herbal tea.
  3. Get up and take a walk around the office to get the blood flowing.
  4. If you’ve been staring at your computer for an extended period of time, look out the window or at another object for a few seconds.
  5. Eat a piece of fruit or some crunchy vegetables — nutritious snacks are part of a healthy diet.
  6. Laugh.
  7. Do some basic stretching in your workspace.
  8. Close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine your ideal vacation.
  9. Change up your afternoon routine — make sure you have a mixture of active and inactive tasks to keep your brain and body working.
  10. Take time to do work tasks away from your desk, in a new setting.