Beat the 3pm Slump Without Sugar or Caffeine

I currently work in downtown Calgary and my day is spent sitting (or slouching, if you want the truth) at a desk, working on a computer.  When I sit this much, I get tired, unmotivated and distracted.  I spend most of my day struggling to stay awake and focused.  My focus and attention is the worst between 1:30 and 3:30pm every day.  I am constantly trying to beat the 3pm slump without sugar and caffeine!

While I would love a nap every afternoon, I know that I need to figure out how to improve my focus.  And, of course, I need to do this naturally.


For months, I experimented with different snacks and drinks to figure out what helps.  My one rule was that I had to beat the 3pm slump without sugar or caffeine.

The worst part of this slump is that I feel like doing NOTHING when I get home from work – the couch calls and I fight the urge to lay down and continue my sedentary life until bedtime.

Beat the 3pm Slump Without Sugar or Caffeine

Does this ever happen to you?

Part of the reason for the afternoon slump is the fact that we’ve basically stayed in the same, inactive position for a long time.  One of the best things you can do to avoid this 3pm crash is to get up and move – go for a walk after lunch or try to find a washroom and kitchen that forces you to take the stairs and get away from your desk for a few minutes each hour.  A standing desk is awesome, but most offices don’t provide these for their staff.  But, you can stand to talk on the phone or read printed papers and reports.

There could also be an underlying health condition that causes you to feel lethargic and irritable in the middle of the afternoon.  People with insulin resistance or hypoglycemia tend to feel the effects of low cellular energy the most between lunch and dinner.  Blood sugar imbalances are one of the leading causes of low energy, excessive hunger, and stubborn abdominal fat.

Unless your afternoon fatigue is due to lack of sleep, you can beat the 3pm slump without sugar or caffeine.  Eat a lunch that’s high in protein and healthy fats and low in carbohydrates.  Avoid breads, grains, pastas and other heavy carbohydrates and stick with low glycemic load carbs like lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers and celery.  Try a chicken breast, tuna or salmon over a green salad; top this with olive or flaxseed oil to help absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Drink a lot of water – most people have some form of dehydration and this can be a major factor in your energy levels.  If, after lunch, you feel hungry, drink 2 glasses of water and wait 20 minutes before you eat again.

Beat the 3pm slump without sugar or caffeine; instead, try a cup of hot water with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil stirred in.  Coconut oil helps boost energy and makes you feel more awake without the downside of sugar or caffeine.  Try a shot of wheatgrass or a green smoothie to boost your energy mid-afternoon.  (My after-work trick to wake up and tackle my evening is a green powder drink.)

High protein snacks are a good alternative to sugary treats as well.  Try unsalted nuts, some turkey bacon, or a hard-boiled egg. (Drinking my vegan protein drink around 2:30pm wakes me up and gets me through my day.)

Peppermint will make you more alert, too.  Try rubbing peppermint essential oil on your wrists, or add some to a diffuser on your desk.  Brush your teeth with peppermint flavored toothpaste, or chew gum.

If possible, switch up your afternoon tasks to do something that requires much less concentration.  I like to do data entry and develop templates and, when I’m working on my wellness businesses.  This is usually when I organize my content and ideas.  You can also try an ‘open your heart’ stretch or a few squats at your desk.

But, my best advice to get you through the 3pm slump?  Make sleep a priority!



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