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Apr23

20 Ways to Boost Your Energy (Without Relying on Caffeine)


The morning cup of Joe, the mid-day pick-me-up and the afternoon latte – caffeine in all of its glorious forms has weaseled its way into our lives in more ways than we can count.  It’s become that little shot in the arm that we all rely on to get us over the hump and keep our minds and bodies sharp.  But, honestly, it doesn’t work as well as people claim and over-reliance can lead to headaches, irritability, jitters and more without the added energy boost we’re looking for.

So, is there a way to break the cycle and still be at peak performance throughout the day?  Can we really boost our energy for work, play and everyday life without relying on the all-mighty java?

Of course we can!  With a little training and some habit changes, you can easily boost your energy level throughout the day without relying on caffeine.  I’m not saying you have to give up the coffee or the cola – but wouldn’t it be nice to finish a day without feeling like you need a nap or to wake up in the morning without having to crawl to the carafe?

If you’re ready to break free from caffeine, the following are 20 different ways you can boost your energy and take on the work week (and your daily life), without relying on the cuppa.

Scheduling, Habits and Routines

Sleep Enough – Eight hours doesn’t always cut it.  Studies have shown in the absence of specific clues (such as sunshine and clocks), humans will actually sleep longer than eight hours per day.  In fact, a study reported in the New York Times shows that nine hours may be more “average” than the eight we’ve all been led to believe.

Sleep Correctly – Your basal sleep need isn’t only a function of the duration of your slumber, but of its quality as well.  For this reason, seven hours of solid sleep is often much better than eight or even nine hours of fitful rest.  Keep in mind that every person collects a “sleep debt” as time goes by.  It’s cumulative, and you have no choice but to give in to it – sometime.  For instance, if you only get seven hours of sleep per night Monday through Friday, you’re going to need to make up those five “lost” hours of sleep on the weekend – and you’re going to feel pretty terrible throughout the week as your debt builds.

Schedule Work When You’re Productive – Most people experience naturally higher focus levels in the morning (though this isn’t true of everyone).  This allows you to productively “bang out” all of the important stuff you have to do without the need for caffeine, before your mind slips off into that hazy/daze-y area between alertness and sleep that hits around 2:00pm.

Nap – Contrary to popular Western beliefs, napping is actually an excellent productivity tool.  Several major companies around the world have instituted nap policies based on studies that have found that employees are more responsive, more productive and more energetic after a 20 minute nap.  Just don’t sleep too much longer or you’ll pass the “sweet spot” and your body will think it’s bedtime.

Activities

Exercise – While the immediate result of exercise is usually the polar opposite of an energy boost, the long term results will be just that.  When you exercise regularly, you’ll be able to retain an alert and energetic state for a lot longer, as you’ve essentially trained your body to utilize what you’re feeding it for energy.

Be Afraid of the Dark – Okay, you don’t really have to be afraid, but do make it a priority to stay in the light – even if it’s artificial.  Your body naturally responds to light (it’s how our circadian rhythms are regulated,) so if you’re sitting around in the dark, your body is going to think it’s nap time – even if it’s only noon.

Walk – Or jump rope, or do jumping jacks, or undertake any other type of physical activity.  If you feel yourself starting to slide down that slippery slope into drowsiness, a short, vigorous burst of exercise can be a great way to revive yourself, as this exercise will get your blood pumping – boosting everything from your bodily tasks to your brain’s functionality.

Listen to Up-tempo Music – Ambient noise has a huge effect on the human psyche.  Studies have shown that students do much better on tests when listening to classical music and that rock anthems really do boost heart rates.  So to avoid the inevitable lull in your energy flow, keep the upbeat tunes pumping.

Practice Your Posture – I know, this sounds like something your mother would tell you.  But proper posture actually allows for proper blood flow throughout the body, which is linked to everything from digestion to mental alertness.  So stop slouching and feel more energetic now!

Drop the Temperature in the Room – Warm temperatures inspire lethargy.  Cold temperatures force your body to burn more calories, pump more blood and generally be more active and energetic.  This effect is so noticeable that multiple studies (including one by CareerBuilder.com) have actually shown that workers are significantly more productive when the temperature of offices are lowered to roughly 76 degrees in the summer and 72 degrees in the winter.

Exercise Your Mind – Tasks that require brainpower actually train your mind to be more active and alert.  To maximize this effect, try word puzzles or Sudoku during your breaks to stay sharp without resorting to caffeine.

Moderate Your Mood – Mood plays a tremendous role in regulating our energy flows.  Staying positive and excited are excellent ways to boost your natural energy without artificial stimulants.  Those inevitable “gray clouds” that hover over everyone once in a while do just the opposite.

Hang Around Like-Minded People – If you’re hanging around energetic people, you’ll be more apt to “absorb” some of their enthusiasm.  On the other hand, if you’re hanging around Eeyore and his pals, all you’re going to want to do is crawl into a cozy spot and sleep an otherwise productive day away.

Diet

Eat Correctly – Sugars and artificial stimulants can actually keep you running on “overdrive.”  And while this may sound like a good idea, crashing from one of these artificial highs hits you hard – ultimately tanking your overall energy levels.

Stay Hydrated – Your body and your brain are mostly water.  So when you get dehydrated, everything slows down – including your mind.  Staying hydrated will allow you to stay on track and keep up the pace in a natural, healthy way.

Eat Smaller Meals – It’s no secret that eating a large meal makes us sleepy.  That’s because a lot of the blood and energy in the body is transferred to the digestive system to aid in the assimilation of nutrients.  However, if you eat smaller, lighter meals during the day, you’ll avoid the hunger pains and find yourself able to keep your eyes open throughout the afternoon.

Take Your Vitamins – Vitamins such as B and D play an integral role in the body’s metabolism.  Ensuring that you have the right balance of vitamins and minerals will help your body function properly and help you maintain a high energy level throughout the day.

Snack Right – Instead of going for the sugary treats, opt for a protein-filled snack like peanut butter or nuts.  Protein also has the added effect of “sticking around” in your stomach longer to help you avoid those distracting hunger pains later on in the day, allowing you to remain focused and productive – not worrying about your next snack!

Investigate Herbal Supplements – I’m not talking about the guarana in your energy drinks (it’s essentially the same as caffeine).  Ginseng, kelp, licorice root and even cinnamon have all been found to boost energy when used correctly.

Eat Breakfast – It’s tempting to skip the morning meal (or to call a cup of coffee and a slice of toast “good enough”), but having a well-rounded meal in the morning actually tells your body to “wake up” and start the day.  It also ensures that you have the nutrients you need to stay strong all morning long and avoid the productivity-killing mid-morning crash.

Follow Your Own Plan

Keep in mind that everyone is different, and that mixing and matching these top 20 tips to find the balance that works best for you is the key to success.

Maybe you’re one of those lucky people that functions best on seven hours of sleep a night or one of the few who never got hooked on the java bean in the first place – if so, lucky for you!  But chances are you’re not.  If so, you might be able to feel better, be more productive and unlock your energy potential using some or all of the tips described above – but you’ll never know until you try them out!

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