Energy. It’s why we drink coffee, right? You need to get those eyelids open and your brain operating to face another busy day.
Or maybe you drink it for the taste. In which case, I’m with you. I enjoy an excellent cup of coffee myself each day. That’s right, I said a cup. Not five. Not a pot. And definitely not at 3:30 pm to get through an afternoon slump. Why? Because when I'm using coffee to push through, I'm leaning on unsustainable habits, not healthy ones.
Want to enjoy your java in a way that your life doesn’t literally depend on it?
It’s totally possible. You’ll need to rethink your relationship to coffee and caffeine just a bit but if you can make the leap, you get to have it all—plenty of mental focus, physical energy all day long AND that super tasty, aromatic beverage we love.
Basically, caffeine is a non-nutritional form of energy. This chemical found in some plants provides that boost you’ve come to know and love and perhaps depend on to function. It can have some hefty negative side effects as well. Consider the cost of your dependency on caffeine and how it is affecting your mental, emotional and physical health. In particular, consider what shortcuts you’re taking that caffeine helps you avoid. What could you do instead to get the jolt and focus you need to be productive and keep a positive mindset throughout a long day?
Here are five tips to find energy from natural, healthier sources. Give your mind and body energy that sustains you from the inside-out. You’ll show up to work, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or 9-5 employee, with a cup of coffee as a flavorful bonus to the off-the-charts spring in your step.
- Drink water. Before going to bed, put a 16-oz glass filled with water beside you. Place it far enough away so you don’t knock it over in the night. First thing in the morning, before your feet hit the floor, drink all of that water slowly. Hydrating with water first thing in the morning will stimulate your digestion which helps you eliminate before a busy workday (hello, stage fright in common bathrooms). It cleanses your body and gives you a clean slate for the day.
- Stretch. Some simple toe touches will help get your blood flowing and loosen tight muscles, which instantly helps you feel more fluid and energized. Raise your arms above your head to the ceiling, hold for 5 seconds and then gently reach forward as far down to the floor as you can. Can you touch your toes? Repeat this five times or for a few minutes. This simple step will jump-start your lymphatic and circulatory systems.
- Crank loud tunes. Play something with a really high-tempo or (PBM) beats per minute to stimulate brain activity. Air drumming or guitar counts as bonus exercise. Two tunes I suggest: My Hero by Foo Fighters and the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. You think I’m kidding? Listen to the last 4 minutes of that piece at a really loud volume and you’ll see what I mean. Try not to play mini-conductor when those canons go off!
- Take the long way. If you’re able-bodied, skip the elevator and escalator. Take the stairs instead. If you can’t make it all the way at first, take your time. Go slowly. Build your endurance. Already a speed demon on the stairs? Great. Time yourself and beat your own personal record. No stairs where you work? Get off the bus or park your car far away from your workplace and walk a portion of the way.
- Meditate or pray. Think sitting still doesn’t give you energy? Have you tried it? Research shows that sitting and focusing on your thoughts may have tremendous benefits to brain function and significantly reduce stress levels. Spending just five minutes in deep thought and concentration at home, on public transportation or even in your car before you lock it up can give you an incredible boost of mental focus. Try this as you start up your computer. In the time it takes to boot up, you can sit and take a few deep breaths. Feel yourself in your chair. Sit up straight. Take five more deep breaths.
Still want that coffee? Great! You can have it. But notice if your desire is from habit or from someplace else. Do you really need it or just want it? Have one cup. See how you feel around 3pm and try a few of these tricks on this list before having more.
The long-term benefits from practicing these integrative ways to get more energy far outweigh the short-term fix of adding more caffeine to your system. Are you willing to try this for a week to see what works for you?