5 Ways to avoid that dreaded afternoon brain drain at work

Pretty girl poses with laptop at work

Picture this; you arrive at work in the morning brimming with energy after a coffee-hit however that feeling slowly diminishes as the day progresses and the deadlines loom. Your productivity drops to an all-time low and you struggle to focus on any task at hand.

Does this sound like you?

The truth is, you’re not just physically tired but your brain is exhausted. Luckily avoiding that slump is easier than you think. Dr Jenny Brockis, medical practitioner and author of Future Brain, unveils her top five tips on how to avoid the brain drain so that you’re always on your A game.


What we choose to eat has a direct impact on our brain health. Bottom line is - stick to ‘real foods’ and minimise processed foods. It may be tempting to order fast food for dinner or snack on a donut in the afternoon, but fast or sugary foods has been associated with reduced verbal memory and lower mood which stops us from performing our best.

Opt for nutrient dense food choices like leafy greens and oily fish instead, and healthy snacks like berries, dark chocolate (minimum 70%) and chopped nuts.


While we may worry that taking breaks will invite judgement from our colleagues on our productivity, regular brain breaks will actually keep our concentration and focus on point. Our brain is designed to pay focused attention in relatively short chunks of time, between 60-90 minutes. Prioritise your work into focused blocks, separated by regular 10-15-minute brain breaks. You’ll be able to get more done, to a higher level and with fewer mistakes.


Sitting has been labelled as the new smoking. When you sit at your desk for prolonged periods, you are denying your brain the oxygen and nutrients it needs to think well, resulting in loss of focus and concentration.

Get up and move every hour for a couple of minutes. Try a standing desk if your work permits or call a standing (or walking) meeting. Also take your phone calls standing up. It’s also ideal to fit in 30 minutes of exercise before work every day to prime your brain for best performance.


Being busy means finding the time to think can be a challenge. Our thinking space is that quiet reflective place when we check in that we’re on the right track, that things are going as expected and what else we need to prioritise or do.

Where you find this space doesn’t matter, it could be in the park, while listening to some music, meditating or exercising. Schedule in 15 minutes a day in your diary, that’s enough to set you up to be ready to do your best work.


Always sleep deprived and feeling chronically tired? Having a decent amount of shuteye every night is the ultimate energy booster you need.

Seven to eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep is best for cognition and is the perfect time for you to take out the brain’s trash and regulate emotion.

When we don’t get enough sleep, we feel immensely tired the next day. This then makes us cranky and can inhibit our ability to manage stress and make good decisions.


Dr. Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner, speaker and author who specialises in brain health and the science of high performance thinking. Her new book Future Brain: The 12 Keys To Create A High Performance Brain is now available online and at all good bookstores including Dymocks.

Words: Frances van Eeden