Getting through the workday can be tough.
Seriously, full stop.
But when your day is packed with back-to-back meetings and a to-do list longer than the number of people in Taylor Swift’s #Squad, you need something more than caffeine to help you cope.
So instead of reaching for another cup the next time you’re feeling down, try one of these energy-boosting activities instead.
Get Your Blood Pumping
Think your one hour run counteracts 10 hours of sitting still? Think again. Even people who make daily trips to the gym need to keep moving throughout the day. “If you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve been sitting too long,” says Dr. James Levine, author of Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It. We should all be up at least 10 minutes out of every hour.
Short bursts of physical activity will help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain which will result in greater alertness and energy.
Do some jumping jacks, run up and down the stairs, or at least stand at your desk while you read or talk on the phone. Your body and mind will thank you.
Sit Up Straight
Poor posture can reduce the amount of oxygen and blood that flows to your brain by up to 30%. Proper posture allows your lungs to expand to full capacity so you can get the most of your deep breathing exercises. By opening your airways, your brain and body will receive more oxygen, giving your more energy.
Take a Nap
Who says naps are just for kids? There’s a reason why Google offers nap pods to its employees.
If you have a place you can go to catch a few mid-day zzz’s, taking a 15-20 minute nap can increase your alertness and ability to focus. Research also shows that longer naps of 30-60 minutes help to boost memory, increase creativity, and improve decision-making skills.
Chew a Piece of Gum
A recent study by Andy Smith, PhD, at Cardiff University found that people who chewed gum for at least 15 minutes were more alert than those who didn’t. “Chewing gum increases heart rate, which increases blood flow to the brain,” Smith explains. “It also stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which can increase alertness.”
Your best bet is to opt for a mint flavoured pack, since peppermint stimulates and energizes your brain.
Take a Walk Instead of Another Coffee Break
When you start to feel a mid-morning or afternoon lull coming on, try getting out of the office for a walk.
A California State University study conducted by Robert Thayer, PhD, found that a brisk 10-minute walk not only increased energy, but the effects lasted up to two hours. Thayer also found that when daily 10-minute walks continued for at least three weeks, overall energy levels and mood were improved.
On top of that, research has found that just 20 minutes outdoors actually makes us feel more alive.
Do Something Nice for Someone Else
Positive energy is contagious. When you do something that will make someone else happy, it releases those “feel-good” chemicals in your brain as well. This natural happy-high will no doubt give you the boost you need to make it through your jam-packed schedule.
Train Your Brain
Switching focus throughout your day can help to stimulate your mind. In a way, you are taking a break from work, but still keeping your brain engaged. Try doing crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or other brain games.
If games aren’t your style, consider spending a few minutes here and there to learn something new. This could be anything from reading news related to your field to brushing up on some new skills.
Find Your Inner Zen
While deep yoga-type breathing might seem the opposite of energizing, it really does help give you a boost. Focus on breathing long, deep breaths from your diaphragm rather than from your chest. Not only will this get your blood pumping to boost your energy, it will also help rejuvenate your mind and relax tense muscles.
Drink Plenty of Water
Everyone knows we’re supposed to drink a minimum of eight glasses, or about two litres, of water a day. But according to Health Canada, the average Canadian only consumes 1.5 litres of water per day.
Feeling tired or lethargic is one of the top signs of dehydration. So next time you feel you need a boost, try grabbing a glass of water first before reaching for your next java – while delicious, caffeine can dehydrate you even more.
No matter what you do, nothing will give you the energy boost you need if your body is starving. According to the National Institutes of Health, skipping any meal throughout the day can result in lower energy and motivation levels.
Be sure to stay away from the vending machine when you’re craving a snack. Simple carbs and sugars, like those found in chips and candy, will only give you a quick boost, followed by an even quicker energy crash.
Instead opt for something that is rich in fiber and protein. Try adding some oatmeal, granola, or nuts to your morning yogurt. For the afternoon, some apple slices with peanut butter or cheese and crackers made from seeds or whole-grains will do the trick.