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In our busy lives, feeling an afternoon slump is natural. But follow this simple plan and over the next four weeks, you’ll learn the skills to finish the day strong and energized

week

Give your brain a break

When you hit your afternoon rut, change the scenery. Step away from your desk and find a new environment for even a few minutes. A small escape can make a huge difference in reducing stress. This week, find your sweet spot.

A smart stretch

To relax tense shoulders and neck muscles, spend a minute doing a shrug. Seated or standing, lift your shoulders toward your ears and squeeze hard. Hold for two seconds, then roll the shoulders back and relax. Repeat 5–10 times. Then do it all again, but roll your shoulders forward.

The right snack

To keep yourself from running out of energy in the afternoon, eat wisely all day. This means meals that are high in fiber and protein. Good choices: hearty oatmeal or yogurt with fruit for breakfast; a salad with grilled chicken or turkey on whole wheat for lunch. You’ll stay more full and energized throughout the day.

Walk this way

Grab a colleague or a friend and take a short, reviving afternoon walk. Research shows problem-solving at work improves by double when a group spends time walking rather than sitting. If that’s not possible, even a solo walk can stimulate your brain. A recent study shows it makes employees happier and more enthusiastic.

Give your brain a break

To clear your mind, try a two-minute meditation. Spend 120 seconds inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Think of your worries as boats that you are observing on a river. Let them float by. Focus on your breath. You’ll emerge more focused.

A smart stretch

While sitting in a standard office chair, reach both hands behind your back and clasp hands behind the chair, as if hugging it backwards. Arch your back and move your chest forward. Hold it for 15–20 seconds. Repeat 3–5 times. This will release upper body tension caused by being deskbound.

The right snack

To help power you through the afternoon, you need protein, vitamins and minerals, rather than a quick jolt from sugar (which only leads to a bigger crash.) Try snacks such as hummus, cheese slices or a trail mix made mostly of nuts.

Walk this way

It can be remarkably rejuvenating to give yourself a little musical getaway. When the afternoon blahs are at their worst, take a short walk while listening to your favorite music on earphones. It’s a guaranteed lift.

Give your brain a break

Spending time in nature can add energy to your day, while reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Go outside for a short break. If nature isn’t near, try for a spot where you can appreciate art or architecture. It can energize your brain.

A smart stretch

Invite your colleagues to try a simple quad stretch to stay loose. Hold on to a chair or wall, bend your right leg behind you and grasp your right foot with your right hand. Pull the heel toward your butt, with your abs pulled in. Hold for 30 seconds, then do your left.

The right snack

When your blood sugar drops in the middle of the afternoon, your concentration often goes down with it. Peanut butter can help. This week’s easiest assignment: try peanut butter on a banana, on celery or on apple slices.

Walk this way

The best strategy for avoiding a daily slump is to make sure you move throughout the day. This means choosing stairs over elevators when you can. Schedule walking meetings rather than sedentary ones. Set your phone timer and take a short walk once an hour.

Give your brain a break

To perk yourself up, seek out a friend. Find someone who puts a smile on your face or relaxes you. A long solo slog at your desk leads to an afternoon rut. Check in briefly with a pal and emerge refreshed.

A smart stretch

To loosen tight shoulders and be ready for the rest of the day, try the one-armed hug. Drape your right hand across your chest and over your left shoulder. Use your left forearm to push back on your right arm. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times for each side.

The right snack

Feeling lethargic in the middle of the day? You don’t need a candy bar — you need some water. Doctors say many people who complain about fatigue are actually dehydrated. This week’s assignment: refill your glass every hour or two.

Walk this way

A quick meditative walk can save your day. Breathe deeply. Think about your toes, your feet hitting the ground, your arms swinging. Be hyperaware of each sensation. As you walk, set a positive intention for the rest of your day and envision success getting it done.

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