My eyeballs burn and my eyelids feel heavy. There are 27 tabs open on my computer and I’m clicking mindlessly between them. I open a tab with a specific purpose, but immediately forget what I was going to do.
It must be about 2:00 pm…time for the afternoon slump!
Do you experience distraction, lethargy, headaches, and a lack of patience in the afternoons too? There is nothing wrong with you for hitting an unproductive wall in the late afternoon. The siesta exists as a cultural tradition for a reason.
A natural dip in melatonin occurs each day for most people between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. This induces a feeling of sleepiness. If you acknowledge it and embrace it, you can move through it with success. You might even get a thing or two accomplished before you leave for the day!
First, let’s talk about prevention. There are a few things you can do to help stave off afternoon slump or at least limit the impact on your productivity.
Be a Mindful Eater
Of course you know that you should eat healthy food. You don’t really need me to tell you that. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it in this context, because it really matters.
A proper, nutrient-rich breakfast and lunch will do wonders for your afternoon brain fog. If your blood sugar is low, you will not be able to focus. If your body is using boatloads of energy to digest a heavy, carbohydrate dense meal, you will have less energy available to do your best work.
Eat healthy, protein-rich foods. Keep ‘em light. See if it helps to perk you up!
Get Up Regularly
Sitting at your desk for long periods of time is brutal on you body and your brain. You need movement in order to do your best work, just like the children in the classrooms!
Structure your calendar so that you have small breaks between activities. Use this time to get up and move your body.
- Refill your water bottle
- Do twenty squats
- Visit a few classrooms
- Get some fresh air
- Breathe and stretch
This will keep your energy up and your mind sharp. Give it a try!
As I said before, a melatonin dip in the afternoons is normal. So sometimes you just won’t be able to prevent it from happening. Here’s what to do when afternoon slump is dragging on you.
Before you try any other solution, do this: drink eight full ounces of water. Two of the primary symptoms of dehydration are tiredness and headache. Coffee, juice, and any beverage with artificial sweeteners and added sugars doesn’t count. Good old fashioned water is what your body needs, drink up!
Schedule a Daily Walk
If you slump at the same time each day, plan for it! Put a placeholder in your calendar for your standard afternoon slump time. Commit to braving the weather (unless it is dangerous) and get outside for a breath of fresh air! A bit of sunshine and a change of scenery are just the right prescription for the slump.
We know that the afternoon slump is common for most people. That means that your teachers and children are experiencing it too! Move through your slump by helping others through theirs. This is a peak transition time at most schools. How can you be a helper in the classroom and support your community through their daily slump?
Stock Your Desk
Yes, we’ve already talked about food in this post. I’m mentioning it again because it matters. Food and energy are deeply linked. Stock your desk with snacks that are low in refined sugar but high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Just as you feel your slump coming on, have a snack followed by some water and feel your slump become a jump!
You have a lot on your plate as a school leader. There are so many people to serve and small emergencies to handle. Do yourself the kindness of accepting your biological rhythms and using them to your advantage.
Drink some water. Eat three squares. Go for a walk. Be a helper.
This will take you far.
My number one goal as a school leadership coach is to help you thrive in your role. As your accountability partner, I help you realize your vision for your school. This semester, let’s work together so that you can do the big things you dream about.
Here’s how to know if Montessori Leadership Coaching is right for you:
- You are ready to get deeply reflective and have a year of serious growth.
- You haven’t figured out how to effectively manage your time and want help.
- You are a new leader still establishing yourself.
- You are leading your school through a major change.
- Your school has recently had a lot of staff or student turnover.
- You struggle to have challenging conversations.
- Your school is going through a period of growth or transition.
- You aren’t sure if your current role is really right for you.
- You feel like you are burning out or bored and you don’t know what to do.
- You are ready for something more in your career, but aren’t sure what to do next.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is invest in a little bit of professional support.