When you’re tired, what do you reach for?
Coffee? Red Bull? Something from the vending machine?
Caffeine and sugar are a godsend when it comes to getting through a long day. No excuse for a flagging performance when there’s a Starbucks just down the road.
With long hours at work and an endless to-do list at home, you need to be able to top up your energy on demand.
But is a drink or a snack really the best way to do it?
More and more health experts agree:
If you have to jumpstart yourself each morning with coffee and continue consuming caffeine throughout the day to stay awake, then something has gone haywire.
Even moderate amounts of caffeine affect how well you sleep. Get a poor night’s sleep, and you’ll need even more coffee the next morning, exacerbating the cycle.
Caffeine isn’t the only culprit, certainly. But eating or drinking something shouldn’t always be your first response when you feel tired. There are other ways to boost energy that don’t set up you for a crash.
Here are 4 natural energy boosters that can get you through a long day.
Office air is soporific. Not to mention those fluorescent lights.
Taking a quick break to walk outside for some fresh air and sunshine can do a world of good. If you normally take your coffee breaks in the break room or at your desk, try convincing a co-worker to go on a quick walk around the block with you.
Even 15 minutes in the morning sun can help boost vitamin D levels, recalibrate your biological clock (helping you sleep better at night), and keep you slim.
If you don’t have time for a morning break at work, see if you can work those 15 minutes of sun exposure in before you go to work.
On a lovely summer morning, stand in your garden or on your balcony to sip your coffee and feel the sun on your skin.
Morning is one of the safest times to enjoy skin exposure without sunscreen. It’s also a great time to exercise outdoors, as air pollution is at its lowest in the early mornings.
Breathing exercises can give you a quick burst of energy without leaving your desk.
One example is the “Breath of Fire,” a yoga practice that floods the brain with oxygen.
Set a timer for one minute, sit up straight, relax your chest, and take quick short breaths continuously until the timer rings.
Technique is crucial. You’ll want to breathe from your belly, not your chest. Focus on the exhale by pulling your abdomen in. You should be able to hear the sound of your breath whistling through your nose. (If you’re in a quiet open plan office, you may wish to find a more private space.)
It can feel like you’re hyperventilating, but converts claim it’s better than a doubleshot of espresso.
Getting your blood circulating doesn’t just make you feel more awake. It can also make you feel less hungry, boost your mood, and spark creativity.
In my home office, I have a rebounder that I use before going on camera. It clears my mind, boosts circulation, and gets me revved up. (Tony Robbins is a huge fan of rebounding!)
If I’m stuck on a project, I often get up and jump for a while. It gives me something to do while I think.
You may not be able to fit a rebounder into your office at work but any sort of movement gets the job done. Walk up the stairs to the top floor of your building and back again. If you want an even better mental boost, jog up a flight.
4. Take a Nature Break
Sometimes, what we need isn’t energy. It’s a break.
Every desk needs a plant to clear the air and remind us that the natural world is just outside. Looking at the color green gives you a rest. (The human eye perceives green better than any other color.)
If your office building has a green space, make use of it. Even a lawn will do.
Try taking 10 minutes to stop, relax, and absorb the sights and sounds of nature. Listen for birds. Look at the sky. Forget work for a moment.
A mini-break can leave you refreshed, strangely happier, and ready to tackle work again.
It’s Okay to Look After Yourself
In today’s work-work-work culture, you may feel that leaving your desk to recharge yourself is the last thing you should do. Surely it’s better to grab a coffee and energy bar and keep plugging away.
But working nonstop is not the same thing as producing our best work. Taking breaks, looking after our health, and quieting the mind creates the ideal circumstances for producing inspired, innovative work.
Just ask Ariana Huffington. The founder of the Huffington Post now devotes her life to promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace. It’s not enough to work long hours. We also have to thrive. And drinking more caffeine won’t get us there.