If you're someone who, no matter how much rest you get the night before, you just can't seem to stay as alert or focused in the afternoon as you are during the morning time hours, try not to be too hard on yourself. The reality is, while there is a myriad of factors that play into why this is oftentimes the case, one of them is rooted in the fact that our natural circadian cycle (which basically boils down to our physical, mental, and behavioral changes that transpire within a 24-hour period) actually causes us to have a decrease in alertness once the afternoon hours hit.
While that might be a bit of a relief to know, if a part of you is like, "OK, but my boss isn't gonna give me a pass on that when it comes to finishing up this project that I couldn't care less about once lunchtime hits," there's help on the way. I'm going to share with you 12 things that you can do that can almost instantly give you the extra fuel that you need to keep you from falling out at your desk, so that the end of your day can be just (about) as productive as the beginning. Let's do this.
1. Sing (Not a Sad Song, Though)
Did you know that singing has a way of releasing endorphins into your system? This is a good thing because they are hormones that trigger your brain and nervous system to feel less pain and experience more pleasure. If you're like, "I feel you but I ain't singing s—t in public," I hear you. An alternative is to listen to some music instead. Just make sure that it's the kind that makes you happy rather than the kind that causes you to take a walk down memory lane over some wack-ass ex. Feel me? Exactly.
2. Chew Some Peppermint Gum
If it's around 3 p.m., you've got a couple of hours to go and you have absolutely no idea how you're gonna make it through, pop a piece of gum into your mouth. When you do, it has a way of stimulating your autonomic nervous system which can make you more alert. Also, chewing gum has a way of increasing blood flow to your brain. And while pretty much any brand/flavor can make this happen, your best bet is to go with the minty variety. That's because something like peppermint can also invigorate your senses and make it easier to concentrate. Dope.
3. Put Some Sweet Orange Essential Oil on Your Wrists
Something that I'm personally a huge fan of is essential oils. They smell great, they last a long time and they've got a myriad of health benefits. On the sweet orange oil tip, something that it has the ability to do is not only reduce anxiety and stress levels but give you a boost of energy if you're feeling particularly fatigued as well. As a bonus, something else that's cool about this scent is it can help to offer up some mental clarity. Just dab a bit on your wrists. The reasons why are because 1) that part of your body is a pulse point and 2) your radial artery runs along your wrists which makes it easier for essential oils to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
In other words, if you want a quick "hit" of the oil's benefits, your wrists can make that happen for you.
4. Turn Down the Heat
I know that some of y'all like to keep space heaters around your desk but if you're yawning more than a lil' bit, you need to turn those off and open up a window. The reason is, heat has a way of cultivating vasodilation. That's what happens when your blood dilates which causes blood to rise to the surface of your skin and create more heat which can result in you feeling more fatigued. So, while heat may make you feel more comfortable if the objective is to stay awake, get a little uncomfortable and cool your body down instead.
5. Drink Some Water
Did you know that if you're feeling drained or fatigued, that could be a low-key indication that your system is dehydrated? That's why it's always a good idea to keep a cup, glass, or bottle of water around you at all times during the workday; especially after lunch when you need a bit of a pick-me-up. Oh, and if you add a couple of lemon slices to it, just the smell of the lemons alone can reduce your stress levels and help to put you into a better mood (lemons also help to detoxify your system which can give you more energy too).
6. Nix the Caffeine
If you're someone who feels like coffee is your saving grace while you're at work, I just want to make sure that you know that it's a bit of a complicated solution when it comes to looking for something that will keep you going. The reason why is because it usually takes about an hour from the time you consume it for the caffeine to really take hold of your system. Then it takes around 10 hours for it to clear your bloodstream which could make it harder to sleep at night which can cultivate a pretty vicious cycle of being awake and sleepy when you actually don't want to be if you ask me.
7. Eat Some Protein
You might've heard somewhere that carbs are a great energy boost. While there is some truth to that, because they can also cause you to gain weight (because you end up "eating more energy" than you actually burn, if you're not careful), it can actually be better to snack on protein sources instead. Aside from the fact that protein helps your body to build and repair tissue, it actually provides more of a long-term effect as far as energy charging is concerned. That's why, another recommendation is to snack on foods that are high in protein including nuts, sweet potato fries, yogurt, tuna, or anything containing meat.
8. Take a Walk Outside on Your Break
If you're someone who doesn't take advantage of your lunchtime and regular breaks, you definitely should. When you do, consider going outside, at least one of those times. There is plenty of data to support that even spending 10-15 minutes in the sun (regardless of what time of the year it is) can give your system a Vitamin D boost that can help to strengthen your immunity and also help you to feel more energized in the process.
9. Laugh at Black Twitter
OK, when it comes to this particular point, it really doesn't matter what you laugh at because the reality is that laughter has a way of reducing stress, stimulating your organs, soothing tension, and improving your mood. The reason why I shouted out Black Twitter specifically is that I can't think of a single time when I haven't hopped on that app and cracked up in a way that nothing else has been able to consistently do. So, if you're able to open up your browser to it, I promise you that it's totally worth your while. Not sometimes…every time.
10. Set a Short-Term Goal
If what causes you to feel so drained is because sometimes your work seems, well, monotonous, something else that can put a little bit of pep into your step is to take out 10 minutes or so to set a short-term goal. The clincher here is to focus on something that will benefit you personally — you know, something that you can get excited about because you know that you will directly reap the rewards. First set the goal and then, each day, when you're feeling a little on the low energy side, devote some time to making your goal a reality. Sometimes, it really is something as simple as this that can revive you all over again.
11. Suck on a Cinnamon Stick
Aside from the fact that cinnamon is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that can help to keep viruses at bay, something that's really cool about it on the energy tip is it has the ability to improve how your brain functions and processes information while giving it a bit of a power charge at the same time.
Plus, it makes your breath smell great, so if you can't recall the last time you've had a few cinnamon sticks in your possession, now would be a good of a time as any (they typically sell them at health food stores or even at Target).
12. Give Yourself Something to Look Forward to After Work
A word that I happen to like a lot is "reward." It means "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc." and if ANYTHING warrants a reward, each and every day, it's having a productive day at work. That's why, I don't care if it's a pint of ice cream, a pedicure, or a new scent of bubble bath, make it a point and practice to give yourself something to look forward to at the end of each day, at least 2-3 times a week. For one thing, you deserve it.
Also, it can also help to get you over the afternoon hump because you know that, once all of your work is done, something is awaiting you that will make you smile — and take it from me, sometimes, that is all the motivation that you need. Real talk.
For more inspiration, self-care, and wellness tips, check out xoNecole's Wellness section here.
Featured image by Getty Images
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Every now and then, a celebrity name drops a tool or regimen that they swear by to keep their beauty and fitness game on lock. And every now and then, those finds make us think that whatever product they're using might be worth the investment. Today, Kelly Rowland just so happens to be that girl.
Over the weekend, while headling Beautycon, the 42-year-old singer revealed to PEOPLE that her biggest beauty splurge comes in the form of LED light therapy. She told the outlet, "There's this light by Shani Darden, the LED light, and it's not cheap. But I literally sleep under it every night."
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and in light therapy, these little diodes emit different wavelengths of light to benefit your skin. LED light therapy has seen an uptick in popularity for its benefits, which range from acne reduction and skin rejuvenation to pain relief and a more even skin tone.
She continued, “It's like a 20 to 30-minute time limit. When I'm under there, it [has] red lights, blue lights, and other colors of light. But those are the ones that I use the most, and they are so awesome because of the simple fact that they are like killing germs and [helping with] anti-aging, which is amazing."
Kelly didn't lie when she said her go-to beauty device was a "splurge." Retailing at a whopping $1,900, the Shani Darden best-selling LED Light Therapy Mask "is clinically proven to reduce acne, pigmentation, and wrinkles." Per the website, the re-engineered "diode LEDs deliver the highest dose of red, blue and near infrared light therapy in cutting-edge wavelength combinations for smoothing, clearing and brightening benefits."
Kelly is someone who gets badder with age, and over the years, the wife and mom have been vocal about her dedication to self-care through the use of beauty products. In a 2022 interview with PEOPLE, she shared her inner beauty philosophy, "Give yourself as many compliments as you possibly can. You start with one, you can have two. You have two, you can have four."
Keep scrolling for some of Kelly Rowland's other beauty faves, including a couple of additional Shani Darden finds:
Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation
Pat McGrath Labs
"For me [with foundation] it was either not enough coverage or too much coverage … Pat [McGrath] found the perfect blend of them both," Kelly told PEOPLE. "This is actually my color, and it blends in beautifully with the skin – the texture of it is just like silk. I brush it on, or, sometimes I use the little sponge and push it into the skin. It's my favorite. She just nailed it, she really nailed it."
Regarding this product, Kelly revealed to The Cut, "I go up my cheekbones, across my skin and my temples with her wand — it’s incredible."
"I've been with [esthetician] Shani [Darden] for almost 10 years. I was having the toughest time with my skin after I had Titan [seven years ago]. Before she sold this, she put it in a little tube for me and told me when and how to use it–she likes to educate, which I really appreciate–and my skin changed in a matter of two weeks." - via PEOPLE
“Sometimes I use the Rich Cream, and sometimes I just use the Cream," she explained to The Cut about her product preferences.
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Beautycon™