Every day you can guarantee that around 3pm my eyes will start to droop and I’ll struggle to stay awake at my desk – that’s when the dreaded afternoon slump kicks in. It’s so tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar, but these can play havoc with the body’s blood sugar levels.
So, for this particular blog post I thought I’d suggest some of my favourite natural pick-me-ups to help you get through the daily grind still feeling fresh and raring to go.
An ancient yogic breathing technique known as alternate nostril breathing will give your energy levels a boost, if you’re feeling listless. The theory is that by breathing through one nostril at a time, you take in equal amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain, therefore boosting overall brain function. Here’s how to do it:
Hold your right nostril closed with your right thumb, and breathe in slowly through your left nostril for a count of four. Close your left nostril with your ring finger and release your thumb from your right nostril. Exhale, steadily, through your right nostril, to the count of eight.
Then inhale through your right nostril for a count of four, close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe out through your left nostril for a count of eight. Start off practising a couple of rounds initially and gradually increase. I learnt this during a yoga retreat in India and I think it works really well.
As I said earlier, often the reason why we experience energy dips is because we’re not balancing our blood sugar levels. Foods containing sugar and refined carbohydrates cause a surge in blood sugar levels, later followed by a slump, leaving us feeling exhausted and in need of another sugar hit. Here are some tips to stop this happening:
Eat little and often. Try not to go more than three hours between each meal or snack. Include some protein with each meal or snack as this will slow down the release of sugars into your bloodstream and will help you feel full for longer. Good sources of protein include fish, lean meat, eggs, tofu, nuts, pulses and legumes.
Snack on a handful of almonds or walnuts; a couple of oatcakes with hummus or cottage cheese; or a few vegetable crudites with bean pate. Avoid alcohol, processed foods and refined carbohydrates such as white sugar and white flour as these leave you feeling sluggish.
Aromatherapy oils can be used in massage, added to baths or heated in an oil burner to freshen the air. A carefully chosen blend can invigorate the senses, lift your mood and restore your energy levels. However, it’s important to use essential oils with care, and remember that they must not be used undiluted on the skin.
For a natural pick-me-up, try combining the following blend of energising oils with an eggcupful of a pure base oil such as sweet almond:
- 1 drop of ylang ylang
- 2 drops of grapefruit
- 3 drops of bergamot
Then gently massage into your neck and shoulders in a rhythmic motion and feel those energy levels rising!
Store cupboard remedy
Next time you feel that mid-afternoon slump coming on, don’t reach for a double espresso, try a ginger and lemon tea instead. Here’s how to make it:
Take a two-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peel it thoroughly and cut into thin slices. Bring four cups of water to the boil in a saucepan and add the sliced ginger. Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the water, discarding the ginger, and pour into a mug. Add a slice of lemon and enjoy!
You can keep the remainder in a flask to drink throughout the day, whenever you feel in need of a lift.
About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.