8 Quick Ways to Boost Energy Without Caffeine
Winter can leave us feeling sluggish and unmotivated. It's cold outside, there's less sunlight, and we tend to eat heavier foods. While caffeine is one way to get a quick boost when we need it most, there are plenty of other low-cost options that we can turn to when we need a shot of energy. (See also: Easy Ways to Have Energy After Work)
1. Draw a Few Complete Breaths
With a lower activity level, we tend to reduce our breathing rate, and that lowers the amount of oxygen in our brains, which makes us feel sleepy. Stand up, reach your arms up and lean over to one side, and then up and over to the other side. Now place one hand on the heart and one on the belly. Fill both areas under your palms on the inhale and let them completely empty on the exhale. Do this for a minute or two to up your oxygen intake to energize both your body and mind.
2. Drop the Temperature
A warm room can lull us into a sleepy state. Throw open the windows or step outside to get some fresh, cool air. It will do wonders to clear the mind and wake up the body. (See also: 25 Reasons to Take a Walk)
3. Fire Up Your Core
I tend to get sleepy around 3:00 p.m. I've worked hard all day, and I've still got a bit more to do before I can pack it in for the evening. To get me through those last few hours of the day, I've been practicing 10-15 minutes of Pilates right near my desk with the book The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates, and it's worked wonders. Why? First, it requires that I deepen my breath and that increases my oxygen intake. Pilates also revs up the metabolism and improves circulation, two processes that increase energy level.
4. Perfect the Art of the Power Nap
You may feel run down in the afternoon because of low quality sleep at night. If that's the case, try this dual-pronged approach: take steps to improve your nighttime sleep (there are a number of new mobile apps to help with this task) and, if possible, learn to power nap in the mid-afternoon when you hit a low level of energy. Keep your power nap to less than 30 minutes, and you may find it increases your awareness level and ability to process new information. (See also: Sleep Better in Fewer Hours)
5. Eat Low-Fat and High-Protein Foods
Caffeine isn't the only edible way to boost energy. Foods that are low in sugar and high in protein and/or fiber will keep you humming right through the afternoon slump. Try a handful of mixed nuts, nonfat yogurt, or a fruit smoothie, or fruit with nut butter, like apples with peanut butter. Also, on't skip breakfast. Providing your body with fuel at the start of the day gives you a fighting chance to get through your day with minimal fatigue. No time for breakfast? Try these easy, healthy breakfast ideas for people on the go.
6. Crank Up the Tunes
A boogie break might be all you need to get the blood pumping. Energetic music also has a neurological effect on our energy level. We are hardwired to respond to music according to Elena Mannes, author of "The Power of Music." We take on the energy of the music we listen to, so if we want more energy, it's best to listen to upbeat music.
7. Laugh It Up
Laughter is the best medicine. It also gives us an instant boost of energy that lasts long after the laughter dies down because it releases endorphins, the same feel-good biochemical the body creates when we exercise. I find that the SNL YouTube channel is a consistent source of sketches that make my stomach hurt and eyes water, in a good way.
8. Chat It Up
We are strongly affected by the mood and energy level of people around us. If you're feeling particularly low on inspiration and energy, a quick chat with someone who has a high energy level can help. If none of those people are available, there are plenty of ways to find inspirational and upbeat talks online. TED is one of my favorite websites. Whenever I feel less-than-energetic, a quick 15-minute TED talk is all I need to restore my motivation. (See also: 25 Ways to Get Motivated)
The afternoon slump is a well-known phenomenon. We all have days and times of day when we feel less energetic than others. Luckily, we have plenty of ways to combat those lows and power through the day.
What are you favorite ways to boost your energy level without caffeine?