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How to reboot in the middle of your workday

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Most people accomplish more in the morning than they do in the afternoon. After lunch, they feel sluggish and easily distracted instead of energized and ready to finish the day strong. If you’re tired of the mid-afternoon slump, try these tips to kill the after-lunch blues. Who knows — you could become so productive that you can start going home early.

Why We Feel So Tired After Lunch

When we eat lunch, our food intake boosts our blood glucose. Elevated blood glucose can shut down the brain’s orexin neurons, which are found in the hypothalamus. These neurons help us maintain wakefulness, but even small changes to blood glucose can switch them off. Because they regulate our appetite and metabolic rates, desensitized orexin neurons could also play a role in late-onset obesity. Minimizing spikes in blood glucose can help us manage our afternoon energy levels. We can also boost energy by having some tea or taking some time to meditate.

While you’re drinking your tea, skip the scones and the biscuits. The carb content can spike your blood sugar and then cause it to plunge afterward, exaggerating feelings of sluggishness.

1. Afternoon Tea, Downton Style

Lady Mary Crawley doesn’t nap after lunch, and you won’t either if you adopt the traditional British afternoon pick-me-up. It might actually have started with the French — don’t tell Lord Grantham — but the British started dominating the world tea trade in the 1670s. Since then, afternoon tea has kept the British perky and it has served as a welcome social touchpoint for personal and business communication.

Keep some tea bags in your desk for those afternoon valleys. Grab some hot water from the water cooler, or microwave some water until it’s almost boiling. Steep black teas and herbal teas for five minutes, and steep green teas for three minutes.

If a caffeine jolt in the afternoon keeps you from sleeping at night, you can still get a boost from non-caffeinated tea. Boost your diet with elderberry tea, which can support your immune system, or try rooibos tea, which contains trace minerals.

While you’re drinking your tea, skip the scones and the biscuits. The carb content can spike your blood sugar and then cause it to plunge afterward, exaggerating feelings of sluggishness.

According to research, meditation can help you manage stress, boost creativity, improve focus, and reduce anxiety.

2. Eat a Better Lunch

If you’re going out for power lunches that are packed with simple carbohydrates, like white bread, flour tortillas, white rice, or sugared beverages, you’re asking for an unproductive afternoon. Also, if you’re eating fast food for lunch, you’re filling your belly with heavy, sodium-laden food that contributes to weight gain and chronic diseases.

Do yourself and your wallet a favor, when you can, by bringing a healthy lunch to work. If you need to go out for lunch, skip the burgers and fries switch to healthy, energy-boosting foods. For example, you can purchase salads that contain lean protein, like chicken, salmon, or hardboiled eggs, and nuts, like almonds or walnuts, for healthy fat. To boost the nutrient content of your salad, choose salads that contain healthy greens, like spinach, and Vitamin C-packed vegetables, like raw red peppers.

3. Meditate for 10 Minutes

Many people meditate first thing in the morning, but a quick meditation can reset your body and mind for a productive afternoon. According to research, meditation can help you manage stress, boost creativity, improve focus, and reduce anxiety. As your thinking becomes clearer, you’ll notice improvements in both your personal and business relationships. You’ll also notice that you cope better with unexpected situations at work.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complex or long. You don’t have to chant mantras or go to a Buddhist enclave to enjoy the practice. A simple 10-minute meditation, perhaps before or after you eat lunch, can calm your mind, relax your body, and prepare you for a productive afternoon.

You’ll appreciate how just taking just a little time for yourself before starting your afternoon will make you happier and healthier. You can meditate alone in your office, in your car, or with a group of other people. Do your meditation, have a cup of tea, and get back to work.

Small Changes

Pick one of these three ideas, try it, and keep a brief diary for two weeks. Record how you feel after lunch and how much work you accomplish. Most likely, these simple changes will improve not only your afternoon energy levels but also your overall health.

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