We’ve all been there, whether it’s at work, school or uni — reading the same sentence 4 times before it makes sense, calculating how many minutes there are until the end of the day, and mentally plotting out a supermarket shopping list.
For me, it usually happens during the golden hour of 3pm when the effects of that first morning coffee have definitely faded. And more often than not I’ve still got plenty to do when it hits mid-afternoon, which means I’ve got to find a solution to my mental sleepiness. I’ve got a few tried and true methods to combat the arvo slump for anyone else struggling to make it to knock-off o’clock:
Recharge and refuel
This time of day usually coincides with a blood sugar low, which means you need to get your body and brain kicking with some smart snacks. A big drink of water is the first step to wash away that foggy feeling. Low GI foods (which are ones that release energy into your body slowly and over a longer period of time) are probably your best bet according to just about any food blog I’ve ever read — go for something like sweet potato chips, hummus, or any fruit you can find. Stay strong! Your body will beg you for a quick fix full of caffeine and sugar but this will only mean you crash harder later in the day.
Get outside and go for a walk
Get your blood pumping and oxygen flowing again by moving those limbs and venturing outside. The movement, fresh air and sunshine will wake your body up and the change of scenery will leave you feeling a little more fresh and focussed. Stepping away from your desk (even for a few minutes) is one way to unstick yourself when you’re feeling especially stuck.
One of the best things about the future of work/study/life is that for many people, our workstations are mobile. The way we work is now more flexible than ever in the age of the gig economy, freelance side hustles and the ability to work remotely with global colleagues. Changing things up could mean a simple shift like moving from one seat in the room to another, heading upstairs if you usually work downstairs, or going somewhere entirely new like a cafe, library, friend’s house or a grassy spot in the park. A change in location might even inspire some new ideas or ways of thinking. Bonus!
Press play on your best playlist
Now is the time for your best bangers. If you’re slumped at the computer with one eye open and half an essay to write, you’ll need the support of your favourite party tracks. If I’m building a playlist I make sure to include a strong opener. For me, it’s always Believe by Cher. There’s no denying its power. In fact, just go ahead and play it on repeat for best results.
Break it down into bite sized bits
If you’re really struggling to make progress or even make a start on something it could be worthwhile breaking a big task down into mini achievable wins. Looking at something as a whole can be a daunting prospect. For me, it brings up memories of my mum handing me a 2kg chocolate Easter egg. All the feelings ensue: I’m excited and downright overwhelmed. How can I possibly conquer it? Easy. Piece by piece.
These are just some of the things that work for me but I’d be lying if I said they always worked. Sometimes I lose my mojo completely and have to put a project to rest overnight in order to get myself back on track. And you might too. Maybe you’ve worked through everything on this list and you’re still feeling stuck. And that’s OK as well! Figuring out how to get the most out of your body and brain is a lifelong learning challenge that’s bound to take a lot of trial and error.