REAL-TALK: How to Solve Your Team’s 3pm Energy Drain


Ever had that sneaking feeling creep up on you mid-afternoon? The feeling where nothing seems to make sense on your computer, or kickin’ back on Instagram suddenly gets a little easier? When this time rolls around each day, it all starts to gets a little bit predictable – we run out of steam, lose focus, and hit the wall.

How can we solve this mid-afternoon energy drain? And most importantly, what tools and advice can we give our team to get them through to the end of the day. We talked to Dorothy and Angelica from The 3pm Box – about everything from proper nutrition, to sleep deprivation – all to help us get through to the end of the day.

We’d love to learn a little more about you. Tell us more?

Hi! This is Angelica and Dorothy, Co-Founders of The 3pm Box. We worked together in a corporate office, came to be friends over the years and started the business in a somewhat spontaneous way (as is always the case, right?)  

The 3pm Box began with our different journeys, but a shared passion for health and wellness. We both always had an interest in healthy eating, working out, and a love for trying new foods. Working together originally as teammates, we’ve had limitless conversations about different ways of eating, our workout routines, and (most importantly) healthy desserts!

Can you talk more to the point of ‘a healthy life doesn’t mean a restricted life’?

This is a mantra we seriously believe in and live by. It comes down to treating our bodies with foods that are nourishing, beyond a diet or fad – being part of our sustainable lifestyle. A lifestyle that not only enables us to lead a quality life, but a completely satisfying and fulfilling one. Eating healthy should not feel boring or restrictive, especially when it comes to desserts; there are so many delicious treats out there that are booming with nutrients. Our goal is to share these possibilities with others who may not have yet discovered these alternatives, and in turn share our mantra.

The other side of this mantra is around balance – while we’re all about fuelling our bodies with whole and nourishing food for the vast majority of the time, we also strongly advocate having a glass of a wine or a slice of pizza at a social event if that’s what we’re feeling!

Tell us more about the hidden energy drains during our day, and how to recognise them?

The scary part is that we’re often too busy to notice our daily energy drain – as they have become a part of our day-to-day routine. All of our combined daily tasks could be contributing to the constant feeling of tiredness and the dreaded ‘3pm slump’. There seems to be this definition of success that the busier you are, the more successful you’ll be – but it’s that very same notion that is usually the culprit of our energy crash and persistent fatigue.

Consequently, you get into a routine of either waking up exhausted, ‘needing’ a hit of caffeine (or multiple coffee’s throughout the day) to get you through, then crashing between lunchtime and mid-afternoon – and then reaching for a sugary snack to keep going. This cycle repeats  day after day. Making a couple of small yet simple changes to your daily routine; like limiting your coffee intake, swapping a sugary snack for a nourishing one, drinking more water, getting fresh air and creating a more disciplined sleeping routine can make a whole world of difference to minimising energy drains throughout your working day.

Why do we feel so drained in energy come mid-afternoon?

There are a few reasons why we feel energy drains, or ‘the 3pm slump’ in the afternoon. A few of these could include:

  • A high carb breakfast or lunch. Contrary to popular belief, having a big and carb filled breakfast is not necessarily the best way to start the day! What this does is cause a spike and drop in insulin mid-afternoon. A drop in insulin relates to a drop in energy levels which translates into your body asking for fuel. This can lead you straight to a sugar or caffeine hit as an easy way for your body get get instant (although short-term) energy hit. Easy ways to combat this are to have a balanced breakfast and lunch containing whole carbs, protein and fats. Stick to whole foods, which have a slower release of energy – keeping you feeling full for longer.

  • Not enough water. A lack of water throughout the day can make you feel as if you’re tired – when really you’re just dehydrated. Before reaching for coffee first thing in the morning, consider drinking a whole glass of water first. Remember, you’ve had at least 6-8 hours without any fluid while you were sleeping – your body is thirsty!

  • Lack of sleep could be another. Within our busy lives, sleep can be overlooked and de-prioritised. We could be looking for the energy-boost in food, when all we need is to get another hour of sleep. Try setting a 2 week challenge. Set a bedtime that allows 7-8 hours sleep, waking up at the same time each morning. Keep a log of this, tell a friend and see if you can hit 2 weeks without stopping. Best of all, see what a difference this makes to your energy throughout the day.

What does ‘healthy’ mean to you? And how do you think this translates in the workplace environment?

For us, healthy is a holistic term which involved elements of both the mind and body. That means, stimulating your mind by a progressive or challenging career, continued education, or stimulating conversations with friends. All alongside having quality relationships, an element of spirituality or belief, as well as physical movement – this could be as simple as going for a walk or choosing to take the stairs a few days a week over the elevator.

Stopping and checking in is a nice way to be real with yourself and see where you’re spending your time – and whether that’s working for you, or if you need some slight adjusting. Being conscious and prioritising your health in mind and body translates directly to our workplace environment; after all, we spend a large proportion of our lives here.

“There seems to be this definition of success that the busier you are, the more successful you’ll be – but it’s that very same notion that is usually the culprit of our energy crash and persistent fatigue.”

What are your top 3 tips for feeling energised and productive throughout the workday?

  1. Getting a good night sleep – sleep is the most underrated thing since chai lattes (and they’re good!)

  2. Drinking loads of water – try infusing it with lemons, mint or even berries for a bit of punch

  3. Moving every single day – whether it’s a workout, or opting for a walking meeting

How do you think workplaces have become more or less productive in the last 5 years?

On the one hand, we are seeing more competition in a more global workforce. With an increase in competition and profit targets, workplaces could be expecting more from their staff. Taking on board more activities doesn't always translate into more productivity and consistency. While some staff cope well with the challenge and greater responsibility, others experience adrenal fatigue, increased sick days and ultimately an unhealthy and unproductive workplace culture.

At the same time, we have seen a shift in that workplaces who are recognising the positive impact that a solid health and wellbeing corporate strategy has on not only reducing absenteeism, but increasing productivity with an engaged and happy workforce. We have seen this achieved through workplaces investing in a program that includes activities such as meditation sessions, healthy snack and treat options, group fitness and health awareness talks.

What wellness developments would you like to see next within the workplace?

  • Holistic and long-term wellbeing programmes be standard within all organisations – one off events are simply not enough to create change and a promote long-term impact on employee wellbeing.

  • Tailored programmes to suit the needs and requirements of different teams – it’s really important to hear what the specific challenges at a business are from the team themselves, as this will result in the greatest impact, and essentially healthy and happy employees.

  • A focus for businesses to build in practices that implement elements of ‘yin’ more and downtime practices to balance the prominent ‘yang’ energy generally associated with a busy and fast-paced corporate environment.

  • Definitely more healthy snack and treat options We’re obviously biased here, but that’s for a good reason and given our firm beliefs in the importance of nutrition. Our view is that our treat boxes are essentially treats that can be consumed 2 or so times a week (as a treat), and are complemented with real foods (enter the fruit box and whole food meals) which should still be the primary source of nutrition and fuel.

What is the 3pm Box, and what are you trying to achieve?

When we found ourselves lacking access to healthier alternatives in food and drink options in the corporate office – and saw a gap that needed to be filled. From there, our healthy treat box evolved as we continued to hear more from others about the challenges they face in sticking to their nutrition goals – especially when related to convenience, lack of energy, or cravings where there isn’t much of a choice.

Our goal is to create awareness and access when it comes to leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle and habits; at home, at work, social events, celebrations and holidays. The first barrier comes down to knowing what to eat, not just in terms of differentiating between ‘unhealthy’ vs ‘healthy’ food – but being able to navigate through the growing number of products masked as ‘healthy’ i.e. those sugar-free, fat-free, and gluten-free labels on products that are actually full of some chemical ingredients and fillers such as sugar. But what good is wanting to eat in a healthful way if you do not have easy access to healthier alternatives? This was the challenge we personally faced at work, where we didn’t have the option for a healthy treat during the day or at social events readily available. And so this is where our range of healthy treats boxes comes in!

To learn more about the 3pm box, check our their website, or follow them on Instagram and Facebook.