Woman sleeping on desk, How to beat low energy levels and avoid the afternoon slump, by Healthista.com

6 ways to have more energy through the day

Want to have more energy through the day? Are you cranky, tired or both by 4pm? Calmista blogger Charlotte Watts reveals how to beat low energy levels and avoid the afternoon slump

It’s a tough time, that 3-6pm window where blood sugar levels, energy resources and often, simple enthusiasm for the day is waning. When clients describe that dreaded energy slump time, they are often amazed by my soothsaying abilities to pinpoint its looming at 4pm. But this is pure biochemistry talking; cortisol (our primary stress hormone) levels naturally dip at this time (our bodies are actually preparing for sleep!) and this stress hormone plays a large part in our energy, mood and motivation levels. I test most clients for cortisol levels throughout the day and although it can be initially raised in the face of chronic stress, often we see an afternoon decline by the time they’re coming to see me – often for fatigue and even exhaustion.

Blood sugar lows

With lowering cortisol, comes dropping blood sugar levels. Sugar (as glucose) is used up for energy by every single cell in our bodies, every second we are alive and we can all feel the difference between good, sustained levels when we feel clarity, easy energy and a healthy relationship with the food around us. If you have been roller-coastering up the peaks and down the troughs, stress, caffeine and sugar may have resulted in difficulties finding sustained balance, where those mid-afternoon hours can present a particular challenge to level and motivating energy.

Woman sleeping on desk, How to beat low energy levels and avoid the afternoon slump, by Healthista.com

This is a catch-22 for all of us; flagging brain energy sends a ‘fuel-up quick’ signal that attracts us to the substances that will raise sugar most quickly. We can feel jangly, moody, unable to cope and ravenous in the face of this survival mechanism, so resisting the vending machine may be beyond our rational control.

Sugar (as glucose) is used up for energy by every single cell, every second we are alive

Lowering levels of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin naturally occurring around 5pm can have us looking for a fix that raises mood in any way we can. It is probably no surprise that serotonin (and therefore our sugar-seeking behaviours) is naturally lower pre-menstrually. If you’re like me, one of the first signs that a period is nigh is noticing a chocolate bar magically appearing in my hand. Now this unconscious behaviour is slightly exaggerated but if stress and PMS coincide, this knee-jerk self-medication is a glaring sign to slow down and look after myself.

Here are my tips to ensure you get an deep your energy through the day:

1. Don’t miss meals

Fuel up before to limit the steep declines – breakfast and lunch are not to be missed or you may feel the downward spiral too late to limit it with blood-sugar supporting snacks like nuts. Working through lunch is a false economy if it leaves you with depleted resources and poor focus by 4pm.

2. Snack smart

To keep going without turning to the quick-fixes that keep us trapped in sugar craving spirals, choose some canny snacks that provide that sweetness and also drip-feed not sudden spike energy. Nak’d Cashew Cookie Bars, dried mango and fresh pineapple cubes are my favourite when the knee-jerk sweet cravings have really set in.

READ MORE: 10 Best healthy snacks you’ll forget are good for you

Two friends having coffee, How to beat low energy levels and avoid the afternoon slump, by Healthista.com

Enlist a mood buddy

3. Enlist a mood buddy

Find a friend who has the similar issue and a good sense of humour. Laughing raises feel-good beta-endorphins to right low brain chemistry. Chuckling at your body’s idiosyncrasies with your buddy isn’t just bonding in the face of adversity, it can actually break that craving cycle.

4. Get out

Not just running away from yet another birthday cake, but getting into some natural light to naturally raise serotonin levels, get beta endorphins naturally rising so you don’t feel the need to pump them up with sugar and increase circulation for good blood flow to the brain.

woman walking in the park, How to beat low energy levels and avoid the afternoon slump, by Healthista.com

Get out there, take a short walk, it can make all the difference

5. Stretch

Yet another beta endorphin riser, stretching circulation booster and reduces stress by releasing tension held in muscle when we sit locked into one position and stew with our head stuff.

READ MORE: 4 desk exercises to stretch out your body at work

6. Rest and let the slump happen

Our brains have natural lulls to rest and recuperate. This is continually happening but can be felt most acutely at 4pm; also a time where we might feel a need to get things done before the end of the working day. If you go with it for five to ten minutes and sit away from your work, you’ll be able to watch it pick up again – refreshed and possibly with new perspective.

Read more posts by Calmista, Charlotte Watts

charlotte_watts_1801.gifCHARLOTTE WATTS’ is  nutritionist and yoga teacher whose work has focussed on how nutrition and yoga can meet to help people cope with the type of demands we face in the 21st century. Her practice and teaching of mindfulness weaves these together and has culminated in her new book The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness. She has also authored The De-Stress Diet (with Anna Magee), 100 Top Recipes for Happy Kids, 100 Best Foods for Pregnancy and 100 Foods to Stay Young.

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

woman-giving-gratitude-gratitude-attitude
Mood and Mind

The gratitude fix – 5 steps to being more grateful to make you happier every day

Yoga teacher and author Elizabeth Gowing, shares her life-changing story and tips on the simplest daily practice proven to boost mood

7 secrets to lasting passion and sexual satisfaction by the world’s best-selling relationship expert-healthista
Relationships

7 ways to fall back in love from the world’s best-selling relationship expert

John Gray, author of the phenomenal Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus series of best-selling books, has advice

Deepika Padukone 5 celebs depression healthista
Mood and Mind

6 celebs who are changing the way we view depression

Indian actress Deepika Padukone is the most recent in a long line of celebrities who have admitted to having depression - and we love them for it

13 instant stress fixers for your desk FEATURED
Mood and Mind

13 instant stress fixes you can do at your desk

We're pretty stressed at Healthista HQ so we decided to bring you the fixes that actually work on our frazzled heads

Adaptogens for stress and anxiety FEATURED (1)
Expert Chat

If you’re stressed or anxious, follow this new series on adaptogen foods every day this week

Adaptogens will be the super herbs on all our lips in 2020. This week, we bring you a 5-day video series abouttheir benefits from former model-turned-naturopath Katrine Van Wyk, author of new book Super Powders. Today,  adaptogens for stress and anxiety

tantric sex 7 ways to use tantric sex to improve your love life - featured
Sex

7 tantric sex tips to improve your love life

Tantric sex is often shrouded in mystery but it’s a great way of connecting with your partner, says Jan Day, the UK’s leading tantric sex expert. Here's how

Latest Video Series

Healthista-footer

Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.

Top