First office job? Here are 5 ways to avoid the 3pm slump

So you’ve bagged yourself a shiny new grad job after uni? Hooray! But it’s the first time you’ve worked in an office, so getting used to the 9-5 can take a bit of practice.

It’s a well-known fact that sitting down in front of a computer for 9 hours can lead to some unwanted changes to your mood, posture, and waistline… but the biggest thing most of us struggle with is that familiar 3 pm slump! So… here’s what causes it, and 5 ways to avoid it!

Why does it happen?

Simply put, when you eat a big meal halfway through your day (hello Pizza Express lunch with your team), your body uses A LOT of energy to digest it – more than you may think! While your body is busy turning those dough balls into useable energy sources, the rest of our brain function can flag a little, and we can feel extremely tired.

But before you cancel any future work lunches, there could also be a little more to it than that…


When it comes to post-lunch fatigue, our hormones have a huge role to play. Eating can trigger not only our happy hormones, making us feel satisfied and content, but our sleep hormones, too – cue the post-lunch desire to nap! This all happens thanks to our primal instinct to rest after a hunt; the human version of hibernation, you could say?! But before you reach for the coffee or energy drinks to pull you past 4 o’clock, let your body do its thing, and you’ll soon start to perk up after your digestion is done!


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but eating too many carbs is usually the main reason we feel tired in the afternoon. Carbohydrates boost your blood sugar levels, increasing the production of serotonin and melatonin in the brain – two neurotransmitters that make us seriously sleepy! As well as this, after a short while, your blood sugars come crashing back down, making us feel worse. Try to avoid white carbs and stick to complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats for lunch, instead.


Lethargy after eating could mean something a little more serious, in some cases. Allergies and intolerances are usually associated with digestive problems, such as bloating, gas, reflux, indigestion, as well as feeling overly-tired. 

How to avoid the 3 pm slump

Don’t skip breakfast

Our mums have told us for years, but they have a point! Eating regularly will keep your metabolism revved up, ensuring you digest each meal quicker and more effectively. A quicker digestion means less time to feel sleepy. Feeling full after breakfast will also stop you from making bad food choices at lunch which can lead to that sluggish feeling.


The power of green Tea!

Green tea is an incredibly effective and natural way to keep your energy levels up, and aid digestion. Green tea has a third of the caffeine as coffee, so won’t spike your heart-rate, but it will stop you from hitting that afternoon wall all the same. It’s also packed full of antioxidants and good stuff to make you feel more energetic.

green tea

Chewing Gum

Chewing on a piece of Wrigley’s has been proven to not only aid concentration (great for nailing that afternoon presentation!), but also help you to feel awake as it increases the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain. So, after lunch, pop in a piece of gum – it will freshen your breath AND your mind!

chewing gum

Get Some Fresh Air

Spending your entire lunch break at your desk plays havoc with your mood and tiredness! Schedule a walk in, or just go outside to eat – the fresh air will help you feel refreshed and ready for the afternoon at work. A bit of light exercise also keeps your blood pumping, minimizing that sedentary sleepiness!


Balance Your Meals

Instead of reaching for a carb-laden Meal Deal, prep a balanced lunch that includes protein, whole grains, veggies and healthy fats. About half your meal should be non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter lean meat (or veggie alternatives) and one-quarter whole grains. It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day, too, as dehydration can make you feel very sleepy!

balanced meal

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