After a hectic morning of working out, packing lunches, commuting to work, sitting in meetings, grocery shopping or dropping off kids, a lunch break is in order. You have had a productive morning and are ready for lunch. It is post lunch where the problem arises. The body slowly feels sluggish, the eyes begin to droop and you feel like taking the rest of the day off. The afternoon of more meetings or tedious housework seems bleak. How do you keep up the energy and have a fruitful afternoon as well?
Here are 10 ways to recharge in the afternoon.

1. Take a power nap. At home sit on the sofa and set the alarm for 20 minutes. In the office this may be a bit more difficult. But at the lunch hour when people are away for lunch you can put your head down on the desk and close your eyes for a few minutes. This will rest your body and system. Be careful to not go beyond 20 minutes as anything longer than this will take you into a deeper slumber and make you groggy when you wake up.

2. Take a walk. A short 10 minute brisk walk outdoors will help you circulate those muscles and leave you feeling fresh. If you are under artificial light for most of the day then the sunshine outdoors will be beneficial. It helps the body produce vitamin D, which is important for good health. Sun exposure also boosts serotonin levels, which can improve mood and help you sleep better at night.

3. Drink green tea. It is vitalizing without the after effects of a caffeine kick. Black tea is also ok but we Indians find it difficult to have plain black tea, we need our milk and sugar and plenty of it. Green tea has the highest levels of antioxidants — like EGCG – which studies have shown to support health, possibly lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It’s also got considerably less caffeine so green tea can be a good choice if you find coffee or black tea makes you jittery.

4. Stretch or do chair yoga. After a morning of sitting, the muscles are stiff and feel lethargic. Stretching in the chair or standing up will loosen them up. Check out this site for chair yoga:

5. Organize your desk and file your papers. De-cluttering your work space at the office or at home makes you feel in control and makes you want to continue to work.

6. Breathe. Deep breathing can relieve stress when you’re feeling burned out. Sit down, keeping your back straight. Inhale through the nose while you count to four. Hold your breath while you count to four. Then exhale deeply through the mouth, counting to six. Repeat the cycle five times. The oxygen will give you a lift.

7. Listen to some tunes. Be prepared with the music that boosts your mood whether it is Hindi pop or jazz. Keep 10 minute playlists ready on your mp3 player.

8. Use cold water. The Romans finished their famous Roman baths with a dip in the frigidarium, a cold water pool which invigorated the body. Of course we no longer live in those ancient times but you can get a quick energy boost by just splashing cold water on your face in the bathroom. A glass of cold ice water also does the trick.

9. Plan dinner. Get excited about what you are going to cook tonight, be it for one or five. Print out the recipe and make a list of ingredients you need to buy. Otherwise pick up the phone and make reservations. Looking forward to something always lifts the mood.

10. Have some chocolate. Most of you are happy to see this on the list. Yes a small amount of chocolate is a picker upper. Chocolate has gotten some good publicity lately. A mild stimulant itself, it has lots of other possible health benefits too – from boosting memory to lowering cardiovascular risks. Unsweetened cocoa with an artificial sweetener with some milk will give the benefits of protein without the calories of sugar. A couple squares of Cadbury with nuts do wonders as well. Eat slowly and savor.

Now some of the items on the list like stretch or take a walk may sound obvious which they are. The point is that 10 minutes is all you need to recharge and you should actively use those ten minutes to do so. Understand what you are doing and doing it deliberately will make the recharge exercise will work better. By planning your relaxation you can consciously make use of those 10 minutes better instead of procrastinating on some work that has to done. The 10 minutes of recharge will allow you to concentrate and have a more productive afternoon.

Pune Citadel, May 2010