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5 Habits To Boost Your Energy All Afternoon

Written by: Stephanie C. Hodges, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Stephanie C. Hodges

For most of my life, I would enjoy my lunch break and then sit down to tackle the remaining items on my to-do list. Except shortly after that, my energy levels would plummet, leaving me unmotivated, exhausted, and unable to focus. You can probably relate and wonder: How do you boost your energy all afternoon?


A woman using a laptop.

After personal experimentation and research, I've found five easy tweaks you can make to avoid hitting a wall of fatigue in the early afternoon. Implementing the five following habits will help keep your energy level high in the afternoon so you have a productive day from start to finish.


5 Habits To Keep Your Energy High All Afternoon


From what you consume to physical activity and strategic pauses, these actions play crucial roles in maintaining your energy. Let's delve deeper into these five habits that have the potential to transform your afternoons from lethargic to lively.


1. Eat the right foods


You know that feeling, right? It's midday, you're at work or just going about your day, and suddenly, you hit a wall. I used to reach for another cup of coffee, but I realized we don't get sustained energy from caffeine – we get sustained energy from high-quality foods! And no, I'm not just talking about avoiding that 2 p.m. candy bar (although you should!). It's about when and how much we eat and what foods we put into our bodies. Let me share some tips that have made a world of difference for me.


To maintain high energy levels:

  • Consume regular meals and snacks every three to four hours to avoid blood sugar drops.

  • Avoid overeating or a heavy lunch, which taxes the digestive system and causes sluggishness.

  • Include a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in each meal to provide a steady energy source.


What you eat is just as important as when you eat. Here are some tips for breakfast, lunch, and snacks:

  • Breakfast: Start your day with complex carbohydrates (including fiber) and protein. Eggs, avocados, or a smoothie with protein are all great options. Avoid sugary cereals or pastries, which can lead to a mid-morning energy crash.

  • Lunch: Opt for lean proteins like chicken or fish paired with whole grains and colorful vegetables. Avoid heavy, greasy foods that make you feel lethargic in the afternoon. Choose bowls and salads over burgers and tacos.

  • Snacks: Choose nutrient-dense snacks like nuts, yogurt, fruits, or hummus with veggies. These provide a slow release of energy. Avoid sugary snacks that can lead to a quick energy boost followed by a crash.


Remember, everyone's body responds differently to specific types of foods. Determining what works best for you might take some trial and error. You may be more sensitive to gluten, dairy, or nuts. Continue to experiment until you find the winning combo for afternoon productivity.


2. Choose the right drinks


Hydration is a critical yet often overlooked component of maintaining energy levels throughout the day. According to research, even mild dehydration, which is a body water loss of 1-2%, creates challenges, including poor concentration, short-term memory problems, moodiness, and anxiety. Is it difficult to remember or motivate yourself to drink enough water? Try these tips:

  • Set reminders on your calendar or use a hydration tracker app.

  • Invest in a reusable water bottle and keep it within sight.

  • Flavor your water with slices of fruit or herbs to make it more appealing.

  • Drink a glass of water before each meal.


Staying hydrated is vital, and limiting dehydrating and sugary beverages is equally crucial. Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks and most juices, can lead to energy crashes after the initial sugar rush. They're also linked to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Similarly, caffeine provides a temporary energy boost, but its effects diminish over time as your body builds tolerance. This means you'll need increasing amounts to achieve the same level of alertness.


Moreover, caffeine can interfere with your sleep quality, leading to a vicious cycle of fatigue and increased caffeine consumption. A little caffeine in the morning is okay for most people, but avoid it after lunch!


3. Maximize your micro-breaks

It's hard to stop working when you get in the flow... but haven't you noticed that when you work furiously, you eventually hit a wall? In the aftermath, you collapse, and your motivation tank is depleted for the rest of the day. Instead, regularly timed breaks throughout the workday have been proven to increase workplace flow, productivity—and even joy. Even if it’s just a five-minute break to grab a snack or chat with your co-worker, the mental refreshment will help you tackle the rest of your day with energy.


On longer breaks, take a walk outside and get some fresh air. Studies show that even brief nature exposure can reduce fatigue and stress, providing a much-needed energy boost. A meta-analysis on micro-breaks for increasing well-being and performance found that short breaks from work can help individuals:

  • increase well-being

  • enhance vigor

  • decrease fatigue

  • improve task performance


More research is needed to determine the optimal ratio for work-break intervals, but some popular work-rest ratio techniques include:

  • Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of work, followed by five-minute breaks and a 15-30 minute break after four pomodoros

  • 52/17 Rule: work for 52 minutes and break for 17

  • 90-Minute Cycle: work for 90 minutes, then take a 15–30 minute break


Everyone is different, and you can adjust these time ratios, but the crucial detail is being disciplined about starting and stopping your breaks on time.


4. Engage your senses


Are you sitting at a desk all day staring at a computer eight hours in a row? If so, stimulate your senses to add a little sparkle and zip to your afternoon. Our senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch are incredible tools. Not only do they give us input about the surrounding environment, but they have the power to affect our mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.


Here are some ideas for engaging your senses to re-boot your energy


Sight

  • Liven up your surroundings: Working in a dimly lit, monotonous environment impacts your mood and energy levels. Redecorating your workspace, like adding some bright colors, plants, and memorable photos, can stimulate your sense of sight, making you feel more alert and engaged.

  • Change your location: Whether it's moving to a conference room, outdoor patio, or coffee shop, changing your environment can be an energy booster.

  • Rest your eyes: Staring at a computer screen for extended periods can strain your eyes, leading to fatigue and lowered productivity. Remember to look away from your screen every 20 minutes, focusing on something in the distance. This simple practice can rest your eyes and re-energize you.


Bonus tip: natural sunlight positively impacts our circadian clock, which modulates the wake and sleep cycle. Exposure to sunlight early in the day will boost your energy and help you sleep better at night. Getting outside for fresh air breaks also provides a boost!


Smell

  • Use essential oils: Aromatherapy is known for its mood-boosting properties. Different scents can have unique effects - for instance, lavender can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Citrus, rosemary, and minty aromas can invigorate and refresh.

  • Step outside: If you have the luxury of being near a park, forest, or even a garden, take a moment to step out and breathe in the fresh air. The natural scents can help rejuvenate your senses. This tip applies to sights and sounds as well!

Sound

  • Listen to music: Select tracks that resonate with you personally. Upbeat genres like pop, rock, or electronic music can provide an instant energy lift for many. However, some people find classical or instrumental music equally effective for concentration and motivation.

  • Tune out the noise: If you work in a crowded office or live in a busy city, it might be tricky to tune out distracting noise completely. To create more harmony in your environment, try noise-canceling headphones or playing some light instrumental music or nature sounds like ocean waves or birds chirping. This can help to muffle distractions and create a more peaceful atmosphere.


Remember, engaging your senses is not just about reacting to your environment; it's about creating an environment that positively influences your mood, productivity, and overall

well-being.


5. Afternoon productivity starts at night


When I had two toddlers and a baby, I went to my doctor because I felt unbearably fatigued—I was dragging through the day. She gently asked me, "I know this is an obvious question, but are you getting enough sleep at night." The truth is, I wasn't! We're quick to caffeinate ourselves or reach for an energy-enhancing substance, but the easiest solution to a productive and effective day is free and has no side effects: it's a good night's sleep.


An energized afternoon starts the night before. This means getting enough restful sleep and creating a morning routine that sets you up for success.

  • Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep: Sleeping habits are highly individual, but experts recommend aiming for 7 to 8 hours of quality nighttime rest. Prepare early by making sure your surroundings are conducive to relaxation. This means setting a comfortable temperature, blocking out any noise or light that prevents you from falling asleep, and avoiding screens two hours before bedtime.

  • Get organized the night before: Take a few minutes in the evening to write down what tasks need to be done tomorrow so that you can hit the ground running in the morning. This will help you feel safe when you start your day and save time figuring out what needs to be done.

  • End your day relaxed: Sometimes, we crash because we haven't given ourselves permission to relax and recharge our batteries. Set aside time for yourself in the evening – it could be reading a book, journaling, or listening to a podcast. Doing something that allows you to relax and unplug from work will help you recharge your energy levels and feel more ready for tomorrow's tasks.


One more


Although we promised five tips, we can't neglect to mention one of the all-time best energy boosters: physical movement! Whether it's stretching or a short brisk walk, moving your body for a few minutes can help to refresh and energize you. The key is to find something that works for you, like a 5-minute yoga flow or just some jumping jacks, and make it part of your day. Incorporating physical activity into your routine will improve your energy levels and help reduce stress and anxiety.


Win your day, all day long


So, there you have it! These are simple yet powerful ways to win your day from sunrise to sunset. Remember, this isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. Start small — incorporate one new habit at a time. Maybe tonight, you'll go to bed 15 minutes earlier, plan tomorrow's task list, or spend a little time winding down with a good book. Bit by bit, these changes can lead to massive improvements in your day-to-day energy levels and productivity.


You've got this! Make your days shine brighter than ever, one small habit at a time. Health and Wellness Coaching can give you the accountability and support you need to boost your energy and create healthy habits that maximize your well-being; learn more.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok and visit my website for more info!

Stephanie C. Hodges Brainz Magazine
 

Stephanie C. Hodges, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Stephanie Hodges is an experienced Health and Wellness coach with 20-plus years in the fitness and wellness industry. She has a Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Science and is certified by Duke Health & Well-being as a coach. When she’s not coaching her diverse clientele (or writing about wellness, lifestyle, and digital marketing) Stephanie can be found reading, exercising, and spending quality time with her husband and three kids outside of Austin, Texas. Stephanie is passionate about holistic health and effectively implementing healthy eating, wellness habits, and mindfulness practices as integral pieces of the well-being puzzle.

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