13 Tricks for an Instant Energy Boost
And only one of these effortless hacks includes a jolt of caffeine.
Sometimes you really just need to buckle down and get stuff done. But there's a hitch in the plan: You're beat. You worked your tail off yesterday, you tossed and turned until 3:00am, and your commute went—forgive the pun—completely off the rails. But all is not lost. You can reclaim that lark-like energy you felt earlier in the week, and you don't even need to down a Redbull to do it. Just follow these 13 tricks for an instant adrenaline substitute and you'll be ready to tackle anything Hump Day has to throw at you. And for more great advice on living your best life, don't miss the 32 Secrets of a Stress-Proof Life.
Don't think. Blink.
It's the way of the modern office worker: Eyes glued to a computer screen, focused on your work—or, let's be honest, some silly video about baby animals. But according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this rapt attention is depleting your brain's energy; without realizing it, chances are, you aren't blinking. Every blink causes your brain's visual and somatosensory cortexes to take a "mini nap" that allows for an essential recharge and subsequent energy boost.
Stop skipping breakfast.
According to the NPD group, a whopping 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day—most commonly because they're "too busy or running late." So if you're one of the 10 percent of the country who skips the most essential meal, take literally five minutes each morning and stop skipping it. Breakfast has been shown time and again to jumpstart your body's functions and give you the energy reserves you need to make it to lunch.
Blast some beats.
There's a reason why upbeat music is played at gyms—it keeps people from careening off a low-energy cliff and calling it quits on a workout midway through. According to Scientific American, fast-paced music grants an instant energy boost by essentially "overriding" our brain's signals for fatigue. However, the benefits of such much top out at 145BPM. So you'd get the same benefits by listening to "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (160BPM) as you will listening to "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen (147 BPM).
Get your feet moving.
While you're listening to those fast-paced tunes, there's another thing you can do to get even more energy out of music. But be warned: This technique may irritate any adjacent office drones. According to research in the Journal of Music Therapy, tapping your feet and your fingers along to upbeat music will provide an instant cure for any tiredness. (And yes, singing along to your favorite tunes mitigates fatigue as well—but we would never, ever endorse that.) And for more great tips on jolting your energy levels, don't miss the 15 Ways to Be A Higher-Energy Person Immediately.
Take the stairs.
Researchers from the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia found that, when it comes to powering through your midday crash, a visit to your office stairwell will do miles better than another cup of Joe. Walking up and down stairs for about 10 minutes—that's about 30 stories—offers the same level of energy as roughly 4 ounces of coffee or 1 ounce of espresso. And as an added bonus, you'll get a quick workout in, too. There's a reason this is the number one way for getting an afternoon boost.
Tap your "thymus."
Yes, the "thymus" is a real thing, and it's located at the top of your chest, a few inches below your collarbone. Its primary function is to produce T lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that, according to energy coaches and practitioners of Chinese medicine, can boost your energy levels. To properly tap the thymus, slowly and deeply breath in and out while gently tapping that area for 20 seconds. Do this up to five times per day for instant energy boosts.
Snooze for a few.
Snagging a moment to sleep at some point during the day—between 10 and 30 minutes, and before 4:00 pm, so as not to disrupt your nighttime sleep—has been shown to increase memory, cognitive function, and alertness. And if you cut the nap off before 30 minutes, you won't suffer what's called "sleep inertia," or that dazed and confused sensation you feel between waking up and being fully awake.
Don't let yourself get dehydrated.
According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, a 2 percent level of dehydration doesn't set in until we start feeling Hey, I'm thirsty. The same study says that a 1.5 percent level of dehydration is enough for significant fatigue to come on. The solution? Be sure you're drinking enough water so that you never crave hydration. For women, that amounts to about eight eight-ounce cups per day; for men, it's ten.
Take an ice-cold shower.
No, you don't have to go full Ice Bucket Challenge. But research in Behavioral and Brain Functions suggests that a mere three minutes spent in cold water can halt sudden tiredness in its tracks. And better yet, if you do it every day, you'll do wonders against chronic fatigue.
Leave the office for a quick jog.
Sure, if you want to perk up and maximize your productivity, it may seem counterintuitive to leave your desk. But as research in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has shown, dedicated just half an hour per weekday to exercising provides immediate—and long-lasting, if you adopt the practice as a habit—energy boosts. That's as simple as leaving your desk, running a mile, and stretching up—and you could fit it all in a typical lunch break.
Eat some oatmeal.
Don't listen to what they say: Carbs aren't all evil and they won't make you crash—as long as you eat the right ones. Instead of simple carbs (like white bread, most cereals, or pretty much anything with processed sugar), spring for complex carbs. They're proven to give you immediate and long-lasting burst of energy. (A bowl of oatmeal or a slice of wheat bread will do.)
Chew some gum.
Yes, chewing gum may be verboten in your office. (Or, for you students out there, is just straight-up forbidden in your lecture halls.) But it's high time you take the issue up with your boss, especially if you find yourself hitting a regular slump during the day. According to a study in Nutritional Neuroscience, chewing a piece of gum will increase alertness by 10 percent and also help with "retrieval from semantic memory"—in other words, you're more likely to remember the minutes from that 2:00pm pow-wow.
Down an espresso shot.
Duh. But if you really want to maximize your caffeine-to-energy ratio, take it from us and try a coffee nap.
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