If coffee has long been your go-to morning and afternoon boost, it might be time to switch things up. Consider squeezing a few of these natural energy alternatives into your daily routine.
1. Sip on a matcha green tea.
If your coffee habit has taken you to Starbucks in the past several years, you’ve seen matcha on the menu. But what exactly is this foamy green drink? Matcha is ground-up green tea leaves. So, you’re actually drinking the whole leaf—unlike regular green tea, which infuses the leaves when steeped in water.
Matcha, like coffee, is rich in antioxidants, and it has about the same amount of caffeine as a shot of espresso. But matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that acts as a calming agent for the body and counteracts the jittery, anxious feelings often caused by too much caffeine. A matcha boost will make you feel more attentive and focused.
2. Take power naps.
If you don’t have time to get a full night’s sleep, taking daytime naps could be a good idea. If not done right, however, naps can backfire—so be sure you’re napping for the right amount of time and at the right time of day. If you experience insomnia, it might be best to forego naps altogether.
If you think naps are right for you, the National Sleep Foundation says most people feel refreshed after 20-minute naps. Sleep any longer, and you might be in trouble; waking up from a deep sleep can leave you feeling groggy. And avoid napping late in the day, as this can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
3. Drink water.
Everyone knows drinking water is important for health, but it’s easy to forget in your day-to-day routine. Staying hydrated carries nutrients and oxygen in your cells, which keeps you energized. But dehydration can happen pretty quick if you’re distracted by all the things a regular work day entails.
If you become dehydrated, you’ll start to feel fatigued, so make sure to keep Operation H20 in full swing all day. Keep a water bottle at your desk, and drink from it regularly. Set reminders on your phone every hour if you need to. Harvard Medical School recommends four to six cups a day for healthy people, so challenge yourself to drink at least 32 ounces a day while you’re at work.
4. Meditate and do yoga.
Although sitting still with your eyes closed might sound like it would put you to sleep, meditation for energy can actually be an effective strategy. Pair it with a quick yoga session, and you’ll experience the natural buzz of de-stressing. Studies show that just 25 minutes of yoga or mindfulness meditation can restore energy levels and even boost brain function. There are plenty of guided meditations for mindfulness and guided yoga practices for free on YouTube. Convince your office to take a daily yoga break together!
5. Drink caffeine at the right time.
If you can’t kick your caffeine addiction, at least make sure you’re milking it for all it’s worth. There is a right time to drink coffee, you just have to figure out what it is for you. Studies have shown that delaying your morning coffee or other caffeinated beverage for a couple hours after you wake up and avoiding caffeine after 3 p.m. optimize caffeine consumption.
6. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day.
Try eating light, nutritious snacks throughout the day rather than 3 large meals. That crash you often feel right after lunch is due to eating foods that have a high Glycemic Index (a measure of how carbohydrates affect glucose levels in the body). Foods that have a lower GI are digested slower, which means the process doesn’t sap you of energy so quickly, and energy from the food is released throughout the day as you digest.
There are several foods that stand out in their energy-boosting properties. Choose whole grains earlier in the day rather than opting for sugary cereals to help keep your blood sugar in balance and avoid a crash. Eggs are always a good option for breakfast or for snacks throughout the day, as one egg has only 70 calories but 6 grams of protein. They will keep you satiated for longer, so you can skip on the distracting (and embarrassing) stomach growls that tend to hit mid-meeting at the quietest moment.
7. Exercise daily.
One of the most important things you can do to maintain a good mood and balanced energy levels is to get some exercise every day. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. This exercise should happen in at least 10-minute intervals, so if you don’t have the time for a full-on workout before or after work every day, you can still find ways to fit in a good amount of exercise. Walk up and down the stairs for a few minutes or take a brisk walk with a coworker.