Sunday, February 1, 2009

Arsenic Hour

Between the nap and the twilight.
When blood sugar is becoming lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as Arsenic Hour.
—Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac I, 1975

Why is it called Arsenic Hour? It's that time of day when you may be tempted to dispense it to your children or take some yourself. If you google arsenic hour, you'll find a lot of advice and information for parents on how to avoid tears, chaos, and general mayem circa dinnertime.

Obviously, dispensing arsenic is not something people do (arsenic is lethal at very small exposure levels), but if you're a parent, you may relate to the feeling!

I think of this term for individuals and non-parents as well. Personally, I often experience a time of day when I just really lose all steam and hope of productivity, usually late in the afternoon. If I don't do anything to get myself going again, it's quite possible I will end up being useless for the whole evening. For many busy people, that is just not an option.

So what are things you can do to get your mojo back when you're losing your ability to hold it together and get things done?

1. Drink caffeine (common, not necessarily advisable because you will just crash later)
2. Get your blood and oxygen flowing (Get up and move around! Do jumping jacks or go to the gym.)
3. Eat some carbs and drink some water or tea (The healthy kind of carbs---raw veggies or fruit, a high-fiber light snack like popcorn, etc.)
4. Stretch
5. Listen to motivating music
6. Take 5-10 minutes for a break and specifically think about something that motivates you to be productive (i.e. re-visit your list of goals)
7. Call a friend who will give you a pep talk (for me this is my mom, and I usually get the "Do it not wanting to" speech)

Do you have other ideas? Truck drivers ask me about this for staying awake on the road; office workers, parents, and students ask me about this in their own contexts. In the end, you have to find something that works for you. I believe that having a good baseline of health and wellness is key for setting yourself up to have the energy you need to meet your responsibilities on any given day. It's not always easy, but it is easier if you strategize!

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