Ever finish lunch and wish you could go take a nap instead of going back to work? You are not alone! Thanks to our circadian rhythms most people are at their sleepiest not just from two to four in the morning but also from two to four in the afternoon. The most effective solutions like taking a nap or getting in some exercise are not always viable options. Today we cover some alternatives to help break through and regain some of that energy and focus.
As this is a problem that’s hardwired into us, people have long ago come up with solutions like taking a short nap in the afternoon. Science shows even just 20-30 minutes of shuteye will have a dramatic effect on your mood and productivity. But despite a mountain of research into the benefits of napping, the rhythm of modern work often makes this sensible solution unworkable.
The next best option for a lot of folks is to pound down some coffee (or, alternatively, if you’re a bit of a health nut, to try to sneak in some energy-boosting exercise during your lunch break). The healthy option suffers from the same practical challenges as the nap idea, however, and caffeine in the afternoon can mess with your nighttime sleep. Are there no other alternatives?
Take two deep breaths. Deep breathing is good for you all the time (and can also help you get to sleep at night), but according to the Cleveland Clinic, consciously engaging your diaphragm and slowing your breathing can also resettle and revive you when you’re feeling listless after lunch.
Read a chapter of fiction. Again, reading fiction has been shown to have benefits whenever you do it, but there are specific reasons you might want to enjoy a chapter of that new page turner before getting back to your desk after lunch. “Disconnecting, focusing on something else, and then re-engaging can pry you out of that state of being stuck or demoralized in dealing with what you’re dealing with,” Stanford psychiatrist Dave Spiegel tells Self.
Take an organization break. Your space has an outsize impact on your mood. You can use that to your advantage. “Tidying or organizing the physical space around you might feel like a little thing, but it’s a way to physically and proactively attend to yourself and care for your space,” University of Minnesota psychiatrist Kaz Nelson explains. “Pausing and attending to your immediate space is really saying, ‘My time and workspace are worth my attention.'”
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