Familiar with the afternoon slump? For many of us, this is the time of day when our energy levels hit an all-time low, and it’s hard not to feel demotivated and sluggish.
Of course, things like stress, diet, sleep and exercise can all impact your energy levels, and if you’re feeling consistently fatigued you might need to have a look at your lifestyle as a whole. However, sometimes you can still fall prey to the 3pm slump despite getting a full nine hours of sleep and eating your five a day – especially right now, with our routines out of whack and many of us working from home.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to perk yourself up – and quickly too. Here are 10 ways to boost your energy in 10 minutes or less.
1. Stretch out your body
During the working day, we tend to be static and slumped over our laptops for hours at a time. That’s why stepping away from your desk is the best way to clear your head, and getting your body moving will help you feel more energised. It encourages blood-flow through the body and will help wake you up if you’re feeling snoozy.
You don’t have to do a complicated yoga routine to reap the benefits – even something as simple as standing up tall with your arms over your head and stretching from side to side will help relieve pent up tension in your body.
2. Drink some water
Next time you’re feeling tired at your desk, ask yourself this: how much water have you drunk today? Dehydration can lead to fatigue because your body can’t function to the best of its ability without H20. If you feel your energy flagging, take a break for a glass of water and see how you feel afterwards.
3. Eat an energy-boosting snack
It’s easy to fall into the trap of grabbing something quick and satisfying when you’re facing the afternoon slump, but that chocolate bar will likely make you feel even more fatigued in an hour or so, when you’re on a sugar comedown. Look for a snack that’s packed full of nutrients and isn’t just sugar-loaded.
This doesn’t have to mean sad snacking – an apple or banana with some peanut butter or a handful of nuts and dried fruit are perfect sources of vitamins and nutrients, and will give you energy while still being delicious and easy.
4. Do 10 minutes of exercise
If you want to level up from stretching, why not rejuvenate yourself with 10 minutes of HIIT (high-intensity interval training)? This is the kind of workout you don’t need to take hours out of your day to do – follow along to a YouTube class like this one if you don’t know what to do. You’ll come away from the session with your blood pumping, and all the endorphins released will help you feel happier and ready to attack the rest of your day.
5. Go outside
If you're working from home, chances are the lack of commute means you’re spending less time outside. This could be impacting your energy levels, because nature has a huge impact on our vitality.
In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology looking into the subject, Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said: "Nature is fuel for the soul. Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energised is to connect with nature."
This doesn’t have to mean driving to the nearest national park for a massive hike, but it could be something as simple as getting some fresh air by walking around the block. Bonus points if you make it to your local park, no matter how small it might be.
If stretching or a HIIT class sounds a bit too rigid for you, put on your favourite song, turn up the volume and let loose in your kitchen. Not only will you have a good time, but science backs up the benefits: this 2007 study found that hip-hop dancing boosts your mood and lowers psychological distress and fatigue.
7. Have a power nap
If you really feel yourself flagging in the middle of the day – maybe you didn't have the best night’s sleep – a brief nap could sort you right out. A short snooze can help improve alertness and boost your mood, but just make sure it’s 45 minutes or less.
8. Smell some cinnamon or peppermint
If you want a quick fix to improve your alertness and reduce fatigue, why not sniff some cinnamon? Research has shown that certain scents – like cinnamon or peppermint – can do this. One particular 2009 study showed these smells increase alertness and reduce frustration in drivers, so why not replicate this at home?
Luckily, with many of us working from home right now, it’s a lot more acceptable sniffing cinnamon in your kitchen rather than whipping it out in the office.
9. Have a cold shower
If you want to wake yourself up in a more abrupt way, set your shower down to freezing and hop in. Known as ‘cold therapy’, the shock of the cold temperature is said to jolt you awake, make you feel more alert and even release endorphins to boost your mood.
The nature of the world right now is pretty stressful, and this can sap your energy. If you’re feeling anxious, take some time out of your day to centre your mind and calm yourself down – this could be a simple meditation or a soothing activity like painting. Reducing stress will go a long way to boosting your energy levels.