What do you do when you’ve got zero energy and are struggling to stay awake at work? An unhealthy lifestyle with bad eating habits and insufficient sleep are things you can’t fix right now. What can you do to make it through the day? Unless you have a room for napping at work, you need some other ways to fight the afternoon slump and find a spark of productivity inside you. Coffee is not necessarily the smartest solution since caffeine can poorly affect your sleep quality. I’m not a coffee drinker so I’ve had to come up with my own ways of finding more energy to get through sluggish days. I’ve listed five of my favorite energy boosters that I use all the time. I also added one thing I had never heard of before, but found weirdly effective.
We all know the feeling when you start to drift towards dreamland while what you really need to do is focus. What I’ve found is that whenever I’m lacking energy and feel like my brain is out of juice, water is the number one rescue. The colder, the better. All I do is gulp down some water and it just makes me feel so much more refreshed. That’s why you’ll never see me without a water bottle with me no matter where I’m at!
Burpees. That’s my number two solution to fight an afternoon slump. Doing one or two sets of 10-20 reps gets my blood circulating and makes me feel charged up again. Another way to feel more energized is changing the way you start the day. Even though this isn’t something you can do right now if you’re dragging at work, you should absolutely try it later. Instead of taking the bus or driving to work, try cycling or walking instead. If your commute isn’t very long, I definitely recommend this and guarantee you’ll feel much more focused.
If you’ve ever tried a plunge pool – or even better, ice swimming (something we Finns love) – you know how refreshing cold water is. It’s not only healthy, but also wakes you up very effectively. Apparently exposure to cold water also activates your sympathetic nervous system while increasing endorphin levels and noradrenaline in the blood, according to a 2014 study from the North American Journal of Medical Sciences. You can get a similar effect if you splash some icy water on your face or the back of your neck. Even washing your hands with very cold water will help. Washing my face with cold water is something I also love to do when traveling, especially on long flights. It’s incredibly refreshing.
Hit the Park
Get outside to boost your energy levels. It doesn’t even have to be a long break. While my exercise tip itself is highly effective, getting outside into the nature to get some fresh air and a change of scenery will double the effect… and that’s why walking or cycling to work is such a great way to start the day. Even 15 to 20 minutes can invigorate you as much as a cup of coffee, says a 2009 study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Only a couple of minutes in a green environment can lift your mood according to other studies. So if there’s any greenery near your office, head outside!
A healthy snack like almonds or walnuts will give you more energy to finish your to do list. After all, they’re brain food. They contain healthy vegetable protein, fiber and minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. While a sugary snack will boost your energy, it does so for only a while. Fiber, on the other hand, helps you stay full and energized for longer. Both of these nuts also contain phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that increases brain power. I love to mix milk, almonds, chia seeds, fruit and spinach for a super tasty, filling and energizing smoothie! (check the recipe below) Another great alternative is all-natural raw protein bars. Look for ones that contain only simple ingredients like nuts and seeds, nut butters and fruit or berries.
My super smoothie (serves about 2)
- 1-2 cups / 3-4 dl milk (almond, soy or oat milk would work as well)
- handful of almonds
- 1-2 tbs chia seeds
- 1 cup / 2-3 dl mango (puree or frozen cubes) or berries (frozen)
- 1 banana
- a handful or two of spinach
- a handful or two of frozen grapes
This one I had actually never heard of before until I came across this article on Livestrong.com. What you need to do is rapidly breathe through your nose for about 15 seconds. The breaths in and out should be as short as possible and equal in duration. According to the article, “you should feel the effort at the back of the neck, the diaphragm, the chest and the abdomen”. I have to say, it really does work! It gives the sensation of just having exercised without actually being physically active. This is definitely a great way to achieve a heightened sense of awareness when you can’t leave your desk. It does kind of make me feel like a hyperactive dog on steroids, but who cares. I’m definitely adding this on my list of caffeine free energizing tricks right now!