Have you ever experienced that midday crash where your brain says “I’m out” though your calendar is still packed? At the 3 o’clock hour you still have meetings, reports or other to do’s but no fuel in the tank to make it all happen.
You are not alone. As a business and wellness coach and consultant, I have heard this complaint all too often; sustained energy seems elusive in the workday and often falls short of meeting all the demands of the day.
I once coached at an insurance company and a delightful woman in her 50’s confidentially shared with me that her brain and body just shut down each day by about 3p. She lamented that some days it was so bad that she could not focus to get her work done and needed to leave early. Since her boss hired her to work 9-5, that was a significant amount of lost productivity.
After some questions, it became evident that she was not fueling her body/ mind properly and in fact was creating her situation by skipping breakfast, having a haphazard lunch at her desk, and operating off a chocolate bar by about 2p. Without an adequate amount of fuel, and very little protein and nutrients, her brain was officially closed for business by three.
If you think there is nothing you can do with energy and performance that takes a midday dive, perhaps you might be interested in a few ideas that can help you rethink how you manage your energy, so that in the afternoon you are not left with an empty tank and no recourse.
1. Eat a solid protein breakfast. Coffee alone does not constitute breakfast so whether it means waking up 10 minutes sooner or making some overnight oatmeal, plan your breakfasts in advance to ensure this is not sacrificed in the morning rush. Even gluten free toast and peanut butter with an apple can be breakfast.
2. Plan ahead and bring lunch and healthy snacks. By a little advanced planning you can make your own healthy lunch at home and bring it to work. A big green salad with chicken or salmon, some veggies or strawberries can provide a huge energy boost that can energize you through the remainder of your day. Keep trail mix, carrot sticks, yogurts or other healthy snacks by your desk or nearby in the lunchroom fridge. If you are working remotely, even better since the fridge is often close by.
3. Designate 2 meal planning days per week. If you cultivate the habit of meal/ snack planning on say Sundays and Wednesdays then you will have a plan to eat well for your whole work week. Once you meal plan, meal prep and have some of your lunches ready to go so when you need them they are already prepped.
4. Eat at regular times to keep blood sugar level. Our bodies and brains do best when they know when more fuel is coming. Additionally, eating every 3-4 hours often helps with keeping our blood sugar level so we don’t experience those roller coaster dips and dives which can make us irritable and zap our energy. Respect that your body needs fuel throughout the day and feed it.
5. Minimize the energy zappers. If you are living on excess coffee, sugar, junk food, fast food or processed foods, those all serve to fill you up without nourishing your body and brain. Therefore, they take away from the nutrients and energy you would likely have if you ate with better nutrition in mind. If you have a sweet tooth, perhaps set yourself up with some fun “rules” such as allowing yourself a bit of chocolate after a chicken salad. Don’t deny yourself everything you like as that is a recipe for disaster. Simply make more strategic decisions about how you’ll include small amounts of some of the things you like that may be zapping your energy currently.
The bottom line is what we eat matters. It matters to our health and wellbeing, our energy levels, our ability to focus and meet the goals we set for ourselves on a daily basis.
If you want to feel better and have more energy, take into account what you are currently doing that is robbing you of good energy, and focus on a couple small changes you might make this week to help you regain your energetic self to give your best to work and the people around you.
My 50 something client almost immediately began to experience increased energy when she implemented eating breakfast, a solid protein lunch daily, kicked the candy bar and replaced it with healthier snacks. She reaped the benefits of feeling alive and productive again. You can too!