Do you have a constant battle fighting afternoon drag at work or at school? It’s so frustrating! Afternoons can feel never ending sometimes, especially when you’re sleepy. And feeling like a zombie is so draining. I used to dread afternoons because I was always struggling to get through them at the office. I’d literally fall asleep at my desk accidentally for brief periods of time. I’d startle awake from a noise or from the gravity of my head falling forward. It was bad! Thank goodness I was able to overcome this over the last year. You can too with my 20 ways to fight afternoon drag at work without caffeine below.
First Of All, Why Give Up Caffeine If It Keeps You Awake?
The biggest problem I have with caffeine is it’s addictive. And like with most drugs, its effects start to wear off the more you’re exposed to it. That leads to constant cravings and increasing your intake to get the same type of buzz. That’s exactly what happened to me. I used to drink a lot of caffeinated drinks in the mornings and afternoons to try and jolt myself awake. I felt like I was dragging all the time unless I had caffeine to get me going. It wasn’t pleasant at all.
I got to the point where caffeine stopped giving me any type of energy boost and didn’t help me feel alert anymore. I also couldn’t continue increasing my intake anymore because I started getting heart palpitations! It is freaky as hell feeling your heart racing and beating irregularly. I had flashbacks to my first experience taking NoDoz in college when I thought I was going to go into cardiac arrest at age 18!
Kicking Cravings, Coping With Crankiness, And Overcoming Withdrawal
I finally realized I needed to make a change. So I read up on the side effects of caffeine to shake some sense into my brain. Did you know caffeine amplifies stress, raises blood pressure, increases risk of heart attack and stroke, elevates cholesterol, causes rapid heart beat, and dehydrates the body?! The stress side effect was a surprise to me and really got me determined to kick my caffeine habit. Stress sucks. And I certainly didn’t want to have more stress than I already had to deal with.
So I made a decision to cut out all caffeinated drinks last year and I did it! I didn’t want to get knocked over with withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fogginess, crankiness, and sleepiness so I took it slow. Over several weeks I started gradually reducing my intake. I struggled with cravings in the beginning but they weakened each day until they completely went away. I’ve been caffeine free for about a year now and don’t miss it one bit! I feel so much better not being dependent on coffee, tea, or energy drinks and my heart palpitations have completely stopped.
20 Ways To Fight Afternoon Drag At Work Without Caffeine
While I was kicking my caffeine habit I needed help coping with fatigue at work especially in the afternoons. So I had to mix up my routine and find new ways to fight afternoon drag at work without caffeine. Here are 20 ways to overcome the afternoon slump that have worked for me. I hope they help you too!
- Take Off Layers And Keep Yourself Cool – Ever notice when it’s hot you get tired a lot faster? Turn up the AC, blow a fan on yourself, and lower your body temperature to feel more alert.
- Drink A Tall Glass Of Ice Water – Dehydration causes fatigue and it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated on the job. Replenish your fluid levels with a nice glass of ice water. It will help cool you down as well.
- Literally Get Up Off Your Bum And Stretch – It might sound pointless, but stretching really does help! So many of us sit in front of a computer for hours at a time and that slows down our circulation. Reach to the ceiling, touch your toes, and stretch side to side to get your blood flowing.
- Switch To A Later Lunch Schedule – I used to take early lunches and that made the afternoons super long. Now I take later lunches after the crowds have subsided. This helps me get more done in the morning when I’m most alert, plus the afternoons go faster because I get back to my desk later in the day. The less time you work in the afternoon, vs the morning, the faster it goes! Eating a lighter lunch will also help you avoid getting a food coma in the afternoon.
- Turn On A Lamp Or Open The Curtains – We are more productive when we’re in bright, well lit areas. If you’re in a dim room, you’re more likely to want to pass out. So make sure you’re getting enough light.
- Go For A Walk, Do Jumping Jacks, Or Punch The Air – I like taking walks when I’m sleepy or bored. I try and look for things I may have passed by a dozen times but never noticed before. The searching for details and movement will give you a boost. Try jumping jacks too if you want to get your blood flowing. I like doing some kick boxing moves when nobody’s looking to get alert and refocused when my afternoon’s are slow. 🙂
- Get Out And Run An Errand – I like to run a lot of errands on my lunch break and during work hours. Having a sense of purpose and getting personal things accomplished creates happiness and helps fight afternoon drag at work.
- Eat Something Crunchy – I like eating almonds, pistachios, or other crunchy snacks in the afternoon. All of the chewing will get your facial muscles moving and will wake you up.
- Chew Sugar Free Gum – Chewing gum also helps me stay awake when I am fighting a food coma after lunch. Plus it helps clean your teeth if you chew gum like Trident. I used to blow bubble gum until I started popping my gum by accident and getting it on all over my face. That’s one way to drive your coworkers crazy and look like a fool so I stopped and switched to plain chewing gum lol.
- Take A Mini Power Nap, Go To Bed Earlier – If you have the luxury of access to a conference room, car, or a private place take a mini power nap. Even 5-10 minutes can make such a big difference if you’re fighting sleepiness. Bring your cellphone and set an alarm just in case. And try going to bed earlier and getting more sleep at night so your body doesn’t have to fight to stay awake all the time.
- Laugh At Something Funny – Laughter does so many wonders. And one of them is fighting afternoon drag at work. I used to read Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, and Sherman’s Lagoon comics to get in a few laughs. Lately I get my laughs from sites like Animal Gifs and There I Fixed It.
- Read The News – I rarely ever watch the news on TV so I use the afternoons to skim headlines and the newspaper in the break room. Reading about all the various things that are going on will stimulate your brain and help you feel more alert and tuned in.
- Look Around, Blink A Lot, Stretch Your Eyes – When you’re staring at a computer screen all day, your eyes get tired and dry. We blink a lot less than normal when we stare at monitors. Get in the habit of looking at the far end of the room and around you regularly to keep your eyes active. Visual stimulation at varying distances, and blinking helps fight afternoon drag and keeps your eyes hydrated and healthy.
- Hold A Meeting – Most of the business meetings I attend last around 30-40 minutes. And that’s a great way to get through the 2-3pm slump. I like having meetings in the afternoon because it makes time pass quickly, gets me interacting with other people, and takes me away from my computer. I also find afternoon meetings are better for productivity because I can use the morning hours to get my most important tasks out of the way and go through all my emails.
- Volunteer For A Project Or New Assignment – When I suffered the worst afternoon drag, I was also the most bored with my workload. I’ve found that being more proactive, increasing my responsibilities, and participating in new initiatives really makes the afternoons fly by at work. If you’re bored it’s your job to get busy! Stop making excuses and take control of your career.
- Wash Your Face – Cold splashes of water or an invigorating facial scrub help wake me up when I need a pick me up. I’ve actually slapped myself to snap awake a few times too when I’m really tired lol.
- Try A Multivitamin or B Vitamin Supplement – If you’re fighting afternoon drag every day you could be suffering from nutrient deficiency. Get a physical and try taking a multivitamin or B vitamin supplement. I noticed my energy levels improved when I started taking vitamins a few times a week.
- Mix Up Your Wardrobe – If your business has a casual dress code, perhaps you’re taking it a bit too far? When we wear clothes that are super comfortable, we tend to feel more lazy because we feel like we’re at home relaxing. Try mixing up your wardrobe and dressing a little nicer at work. You might find your concentration increases, plus your manager will thank you for not looking like a slob.
- Put On Some Dance Music – I like listening to relaxing music at work to keep me calm, but sometimes it makes me too calm! When I need to hit a deadline or need a pick me up I turn on dance or techno music to help me move faster. Music with fast beats makes you want to jam along and that can come in handy if you want to fight afternoon drag.
- Snack On Fresh Berries Or A Piece of Dark Chocolate – Sometimes a small snack can help raise your blood sugar enough to feel refocused and refreshed. Fresh berries and dark chocolate are great little boosts.
Untemplaters, how do you fight afternoon drag at work? Are you addicted to caffeine? Have you ever fallen asleep on the job or caught someone?!
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What happens is your adrenal glands release hormones such as :cortisol, aldosterone. Caffeine sucks for fighting stress because it causes your body to release more cortisol. The best way for fighting stress is Vitamin C because it lowers cortisol. If you’re thin you’ll need more salt because of the stress hormone aldosterone causes your kidneys to excrete more salt causing you to desire salt. If you’re fat you’ll need gatorade or some type of complex carb.
Financial Samurai says
Another tip, force yourself to wake up 1 or even 2 hours before you want to wake up, then the time when you want to wake up becomes way easier!
For me moving the lunch back an hour or so really put me on track and gave me a little energy. That and actually like you mentioned getting up stretching and getting cold glass of water. For lunch I would actually listen to music and go for a walk. I never thought about the layers of clothing. I was always in a suit so taking off the jacket could have helped.
Yeah I tend to wear a lot of layers and being cozy and warm can totally put me to sleep. Taking off my sweater or blowing a fan on my face helps me feel more alert.
Daisy @ Young Finances says
I have to admit that I love caffeine and will probably never give it up. Caffeine in the form of green tea actually has longer lasting effects with few of the side effects of things like energy drinks. But I try to do some of the things you suggested too, to keep myself awake and alert.
I love green tea with macha in it. It gets me too jumpy though so I only drink it on the rare occasion that I go out to a Japanese restaurant.
Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa says
I’m all about the afternoon walk. It is now an essential part of my afternoon routine.
I like walking outside and listening to music or making a phone call. Helps get my brain off of work and thinking about fun things.
Afternoon drag sucks! Meeting in the afternoon definitely help them pass by faster.
Yeah it’s sooo draining. Sometimes I can’t do meetings in the afternoon due to being on the West Coast but when I can it really makes the afternoon fly.
My preferred technique is to go for outside for a walk.
Another thing I do is stretching exercises in my office.
I tried listening to music, but that just made me sleepier.
Music sometimes make me sleepier depending on the genre. I try and switch up the music I listen to several times a day so that it doesn’t become hypnotic.
I don’t drink coffee while working; it doesn’t really keep me awake. I take my lunch later as I find it does make the afternoon pass by quickly. Listening to fast-paced music is something our whole office does to get “pumped” as well. I always go outside for my lunch to get some fresh air. Being cold definitely helps, but lately it’s been a little too freezing in our office!
Yeah I love late lunches too. When I get back I’m like “oh wow it’s 2pm already” and the rest of the afternoon goes much quicker.
I don’t drink coffee or anything with caffeine. Of course, I am most energetic in the morning, but I get energy from my students. Boredom or sitting in front of the TV usually will put me to sleep. I usually blame it on the comfortable chair, but in reality it is boredom!
I actually get more alert watching TV because it’s one of my loves, but I have to limit how much I watch each day. Nice job not drinking caffeine!
I used to go out for fresh air. We had a park nearby and taking the lunch break there instead of the office was enough to charge the batteries back on. And a little stretch out of the chair mid afternoon when I felt like sleeping again!
I love fresh air too! I like walking down to the piers when I need a refresher.