Afternoon Slump

Beat the Four O’clock Fade

such is long past, going-home time is a while away and there’s still plenty to cross off your to-do list. But there you sit, too pooped to pick up a pencil. Sound familiar? Welcome to the afternoon slump.

If you slept poorly the night before or worked through lunch, it’s no mystery why your energy evaporates. But sometimes energy flags for no obvious reason. Either way, you want to pull out of it fast.


Here’s what experts suggest that you try when you find yourself doing a fast fade.

See the light.

“If your afternoon fatigue is worse in winter, and especially if it seems to be part of a general pattern of winter weariness, you may be troubled by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Dr Brenda Byrne. SAD is a mood disorder triggered by the reduced daylight of winter and is responsive to treatment with light. So, for your afternoon slump. try natural light treatment by bundling up and taking a brisk midday walk. Especially if done regularly, this combination of light and exercise is likely to boost your energy and alertness.

Take an exercise break.

“When I need to be revived after sitting and working at my desk for some time, I get up and move around or go for a brief walk,” says Dr Tracy Horton. “Exercise is good for renewing energy and spirit.”

Roll your shoulders.

Shoulder rolls are a great way to revitalize yourself and relieve tension while you’re at your desk,” says Peggy Norwood-Keating, director of fitness at Duke University Diet and Fitness Center. First, inhale and push your shoulders forwards as if you’re collapsing your chest. Then, lift your shoulders up towards your ears. Next, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you begin to exhale. Finally, drop your shoulders and release the tension, exhaling completely. Repeat once or twice.

Breathe deeply.

Norwood-Keating advocates deep, cleansing breaths for afternoon restoration. “Take a very deep breath, pulling air in through your nose as deeply as you can. Hold it in for a few seconds, then breathe it out slowly and deliberately. Do this several times until you feel refreshed and renewed.”

Sniff some essential oil.

Inhaling certain scents can give you an instant lift, says Jeanne Rose, president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and author of The Aromatherapy Book. “Put a drop or two of the essential oil of rosemary, peppermint or orange peel oil on a hanky,” she suggests. “Keep it close to you to feel quickly renewed.” Look for essential oils at the Body Shop, health food shops and other places that sell aromatic soaps and lotions.

Plan for peaks and valleys.

Be aware of your own personal body clock. “Some people have a natural downtime that hits at mid-afternoon,” says nutritionist Nancy Clark. “If this happens to you, try to schedule easy activities for that time go for a wake-me-up walk or take a short nap.”


“If you haven’t eaten for the past three to four hours, your blood levels of glucose–the essential fuel for your brain-are probably dropping slightly,” says nutritionist Franca Alpha. So, eating health fully-small quantities of nutrient dense foods at regularly spaced intervals—can help restore your zip by providing your blood and brain with an infusion of fuel. Try some of these tips from experts to pull out of your slump.

Graze, don’t gorge.

“A big meal full of carbohydrates and fat can tire you out,” says Alpha. “With fat being much more calorically dense than carbohydrates and protein, and the large load of carbohydrates prompting a significant rise in blood sugar, this type of meal can require quite a bit of work on the part of your metabolism. Instead, eat small low-fat meals four or five times a day.”

Try yogurt. “

The ideal snack strikes a balance between carbohydrates, protein and yes, even a little fat,” says nutritionist Kathy Duran, “This gives you a sense of feeling full and of well-being. A 250 gram (8-ounce) serving of low-fat yogurt with fruit will do.”