It’s 1:30pm, your post-lunch food coma is in full swing and there’s still three hours before you can even think about leaving work. Sounds like the afternoon blues! As an afternoon-blues-aficionado, I can definitely relate to those struggles. Most co-workers I know are quick to turn to caffeinated beverages like coffee or diet soda, but as someone who doesn’t drink either regularly, those options never really appealed to me. Over the years, I developed some mainly-caffeine-free tips and tricks for tackling those sleepy afternoons.
1. Chocolate—the darker, the better
This is the only suggestion that contains caffeine. Caffeine naturally occurs in the cocoa bean so the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine there is. There’s still significantly less caffeine in a bar of dark chocolate than in coffee, but just a few pieces should be enough for a small pick-me-up.
2. Chewing gum
So, I’ve only known anecdotally that chewing gum seems to help keep me awake, but a quick search brings up studies that indicate that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain, thereby keeping you more alert and functioning. Science!
3. Eating an apple
This is a tip I picked up in college to get me through those two hour lectures. Like the previous tip, the act of chewing increases blood flow to the brain. Additionally, apples have sugar in them that is slowly released into the body as you chew.
4. Blasting your favorite song
Put on some headphones, blast your favorite song (preferably upbeat) and take a quick three minute dance break!
5. Playing a quick brain-busting game
If you have a few minutes, play a quick game that gets your brain going. I’ve found that anything that gets me thinking or is engaging often is enough to get me back on track. I enjoy doing crosswords if I have time for a longer break.
6. Standing up
Luckily, I have the option to convert my sitting desk to a standing one. It’s pretty difficult to fall asleep while standing; I haven’t done it yet, thankfully. Standing up and stretching is always a good way to reset!