The following article is being reproduced with permission of its author, Kate Towell. Kate is a holistic wellness counselor who supports individuals to create the balanced, vibrant life they imagine.
According to Ayurveda, in daily life we deplete our energy stores by constantly giving our bodies the wrong signals. We eat at irregular times, skip meals, push through feelings of fatigue, and don’t get enough sunlight or sleep. One clear sign you are out of sync with life is experiencing an afternoon energy crash that leads to cravings for caffeine and/or sugar.
In Ayurveda, the afternoon is governed by vata dosha, the energy of movement. Vata rules the nervous system and our senses and is associated with the air and space elements. It’s light, mobile and subtle qualities naturally make the afternoon the perfect time for creativity, brainstorming, communication and innovation.
When you’re well rested, have eaten a good lunch and are grounded, this time of day can be spontaneous and creative. However, if you are skipping meals (especially lunch), snacking, not balancing productivity with rest and overusing your senses, then this is the time of day when you can experience cravings, lack of focus and feel your energy crash.
Here are my top tips to beat the afternoon energy dips:
Eating a well-balanced meal at lunchtime (between 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm) is essential not only to support healthy agni (digestive fire) but also for grounding and nourishing vata. Between the hours of 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm our brains need the most fuel. If you are in the habit of skipping lunch, eating a light lunch or relying on snacks to fuel your day then you can expect cravings, fatigue and loss of focus in the afternoon.
Take regular breaks.
Part of what aggravates vata dosha and our nervous system is overwhelming our senses, which depletes our energy and makes us crave quick fixes, like sugar. Balancing your work cycles with rest cycles is important for preventing the afternoon energy crash. I recommend that for every 90 minutes of work you take at least 10-15 minutes of rest. This is in addition to taking at least an hour for lunch. And, to be clear, rest is not scrolling through your feed, listening to a podcast, watching YouTube videos or squeezing in a HIIT workout. Rest is putting your legs up the wall, doing yoga nidra, taking a slow walk or sitting outside watching the clouds roll by.
If you’re anything like me, you are really good at drinking your water early in the day but by late afternoon you switch to other beverages or forget about it all together. One easy way to keep vata happy is to stay hydrated by sipping warm or room temperature water throughout the day.
If you feel that afternoon slump coming on stand up, take five deep breaths, drink some water and notice how you feel.
If you are tired, before you reach for that coffee or sugary drink—rest, have some water and sit outside in the sun for a few minutes and again take time to notice how you feel.
As with creating any new habit or breaking a long-time pattern, the key is to start small and go slow. Use your phone to set alarms for your breaks, have your water bottle nearby and full and plan your lunches before you are hungry.