6 Ways to Ward Off After-Lunch Fatigue

It seems like everyday, round about 3 p.m., my eyes start to get heavy.

When I worked in an office full-time, I forced myself to push through to the end of the day because I had to; it’s not a good look to nap on the clock.

But being self-employed and working from a home office is different. I experience the same afternoon fatigue, except I’m not under the watchful eye of a higher authority that controls my paycheck.

So how do I stay on the straight and narrow when after-lunch fatigue sets in?

Here are six tricks I use to stay alert and motivate until at least 5 p.m.

1. Eat Healthier

Whenever I eat a light lunch, the afternoon fatigue isn’t as severe. On the flip side, if I dive headfirst into on a heavy dish, I feel like grabbing the pillow as soon as I’m finished. To preemptively ward off that slump, I try to have a healthy lunch that consists mainly of protein and vegetables. Today, for instance, I had two lettuce wraps filled with grilled chicken, carrots, and cucumbers, and a few cherries for dessert. I feel full and satisfied right now, but not stuffed. I try to avoid turkey because of the tryptophan, and anything fried for lunch is a no-no for me. Sweets (the junk food kind, anyway; fruit is OK) also are out because they’ll give me a rush, but a crash is sure to follow.

2. Have Lunch Later

Eating healthy is one way to avoid that feeling of fatigue, but I’ve found that eating lunch later in the day – around 2 or 2:30 p.m. – can help keep the fatigue at bay until I’m almost done for the day. It may be hard to make it until 2 p.m. to have lunch, so be sure to have healthy snacks available that you can munch on so you’re not heading to the vending machine and filling on chips, crackers, and cookies.

3. Pump Up the Jams

Sometimes when I’m tired in the afternoon, I’ll put my iPod on the speaker doc and turn on the latest hits. The uptempo music gets my body moving (I’ve been known to bust a move in my office) and the volume level gives me an increased sense of energy that helps me press on. Try to avoid slow jams or anything you use to relax. The point of turning on the music is to wake you up, not encourage you to drift off to LaLa Land.

4. Get Out and Get Active

It’s probably not ideal to engage in a serious workout after lunch, but a brisk walk around the block (I bring my dogs with me) is just the thing to get the blood flowing again. Another benefit to a 10- or 20-minute stroll is that you’ll burn off a few of the calories you just consumed. If you don’t have dogs, use this time to run an errands, like visiting the post office or bank if those establishments are nearby.

5.  Take a Cool Shower

I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t always shower as soon as I get up. Most of the time, in fact, I get out of bed, tend to the dogs, and dive right into my work for the day. This practice has proven beneficial in the afternoon because when I feel fatigued I can hop in the shower and scrub up to feel fresh and alert for the rest of the afternoon.

6. Schedule Appointments for the Afternoon

Whether it’s a phone call with a client or a doctor’s appointment, try to schedule your appointments and meetings for the afternoon if you’re prone to fatigue. By taking your mind off writing or other work that requires you to be left alone with your thoughts for a little while after lunch, you’ll stay energetic for the duration of the workday.


Your turn to weigh in. What tips and tricks do you use to ward off afternoon fatigue? Let me know in the comments below.

6 replies
  1. avatar
    Ed Charlton says:

    Great advice! Though in defense of naps – if you can actually nap for only a few minutes to ‘reboot’ it can reinvigorate you. The trouble comes when you really sleep.

  2. avatar
    Seeley James says:

    I’ve been working from home for over a decade. Both for myself as an Indie author and for a F500 company as a Global Account Executive. Sometimes, I just take the nap. Fifteen to twenty minutes can get you refocused. Most of the time though, I take the walk. After hearing an NPR program about sitting for more than 20 minutes killing your productivity, I try to walk around the house every half hour anyway. If there’s thinking to be done, walking around the yard, down the block, or through the neighborhood is the best.

    Peace, Seeley

    • avatar
      Mikey Rox says:

      I always feel very guilty if I take a nap. Plus, I don’t sleep well at night anyway, so naps are usually not a good idea for me. I totally agree with walking and thinking, though. I’m able to think more creatively and clearly when I get up and away from the computer.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. avatar
    Clare Parker says:

    Get up and do something physical – anything to get you away from your computer. It’s a good idea to go for a short walk. But it won’t give you the satisfaction of attending to a chore you’ve been putting off: doing something in the kitchen, pulling up few weeds in the garden and then tidying up your mind by answering business letters or emails. Writers often think that they’ve achieved very little after a few hours in front of a computer. Accomplishing even a small task will make you feel good and your mind will be better equipped to tackle the real task – writing!


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