How to Beat the 3 PM Slump

photo by gemsling

Feeling the mid-day lag? Don’t reach for another cup of coffee, try one of these pick-me-ups instead.


Many of us rely on caffeine when our energy wanes.

Coffee and tea are great in moderation, but overuse of them when we’re tired can backfire. I know I often hit that three p.m. wall of tired and it would be easy to grab a cup of yerba mate. Relying on caffeine to pick you up sets you up for interrupted sleep and higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol. If you’ve heard of cortisol in passing, you may have heard that it’s a stress hormone.  It’s helpful when we are in a crisis and need to get things done in a hurry. It hurts when we are secreting it all the time; our bodies are in permanent panic mode—who wants to live like that!



1. Have a glass of water.

Often mid-day fatigue results from dehydration. Our bodies are 50 to 60 percent water. When we aren’t replenishing our fluids, the result is a sluggish, headachey feeling. A great first approach to the afternoon slump is adding some water. Don’t worry so much about the “eight glasses a day” recommendation; much of that depends on our activity level and what else we eat and drink. But do consider that if you are feeling low, you might need a little H2O.


2. Eat an apple.

The malic acid in apples is a great natural energy boost that doesn’t result in a cascade of hormonal changes the way caffeine does. Some newer “natural” energy supplements use synthetic malic acid to help perk you up. As with most things, you’re better off going the whole food route.


3. Grab a few mints.

The scent of peppermint is an instant energizer and mood booster. Peppermint is among the least expensive aromatherapy oils, but even doing something as simple as adding some mint leaves to your water or chewing some peppermint gum will have the same effect. Don’t like mint? Citrus scents have a similar effect.


4. Go for a walk.

We think of resting when our energy feels low, but often being sedentary just adds to fatigue. Get up. Get moving. Get your blood flowing. Get some fresh air. It doesn’t have to be a full workout—even a five-minute walk will perk you up.


5. Laugh.

Laughing has a profound effect on your body chemistry. Taking a few minutes to talk to a friend or watch or read something funny will raise the level of endorphins in your body, move lymph fluids to boost your immune system and bring more oxygenated blood to your organs. While children laugh an average of 400 times a day, while adults are lucky if they laugh 17 times. Consider this a prescription to watch that funny cat video on Youtube around 3 p.m.


6. Make a Pre-emptive Strike with Protein.

Adding protein to your lunch will help keep your blood sugar on an even keel throughout the day. The vegans and Paleo fans are always going to argue about how much protein is necessary and what the best sources are. Whatever lifestyle works for you, including protein and fat in your meals will help prevent a mid-afternoon blood sugar roller coaster.


And if all else fails—honor your fatigue and take a short nap!

Be well!

photo: gemsling / flickr

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader yogini storyteller, and self-care maven.

She also writes for The Huffington Post, Be You Media Group, Yoga International, Thought Catalog, The Tattooed Buddha, a beauty full mind, elephant journal, The Green Divas, Beliefnet, The Body Department, Project Eve, and Soulseeds. Her book, Heart Medicine is available through and Barnes &

She is passionate about helping others fall in love with their lives.


  1. […] If crunching the numbers seems like a hassle, a good rule of thumb (as with most health issues) is to pay attention to how your body responds to what you’re putting in it. If you find you have headaches or mood disturbances from caffeine withdrawal, you might be consuming too much. If your doctor has recommended less, due to heart or blood pressure issues, it’s best to avoid altogether. If you wrestle with sleep issues, consider non-caffeine based mood boosts mid-day. […]

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