Keeping your forward momentum through a long day can be hard, even when you've gotten a good night's sleep and are busy with things you enjoy. Work, life, family, and home are a lot for anyone to handle, and if you're like me, with a sky-high caffeine tolerance, you may be reaching for that afternoon coffee fix out of habit instead of hope. The next time you find yourself sleepy and sluggish, try one of these options for a pick-me-up that costs less than a latte. For more of a boost, try incorporating several of them into your day. Got other ideas for getting a little more go? Let us know!
1) Start Your Morning with Some Nice Easy Stretches - A minute or two of a forward fold, rag doll, and a couple side bends will get your energy moving and muscles alert, plus help get the kinks out so you can move with more enthusiasm and freedom all day.
2) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate - Even mild dehydration can make your cells' performance sub-optimum. Give your body the water it needs to be the finely-tuned machine you need. Try 8 ounces first thing in the morning. Feeling really brave? A few drops of a chlorophyll supplement mixed in can amplify the results of good clean water.
3) Get Outside. More Than Once. - Tons of bodily processes depend on lighting and other environmental cues to work correctly. Spending your whole day inside, moving from one artificial light source to another, can screw that up in lots of unpleasant ways. Try getting outside for a few minutes of early morning sunlight, take a walk outside after lunch, throw a ball for your dog before dinner. Give your body and brain some natural light and fresh air and see how you long the positive effects last.
4) Move. Seriously, Move. - Your body was built to do things, not just carry you from bed to couch to car to desk as a vessel for your brain and your mouth. Give your body what it needs and take it out for a spin every now and then. It doesn't take 30 minutes of interval training at the gym; just look for more opportunities to move. Take the stairs, hand wash your dishes, walk to the grocery down the street.
5) Do What Your Alarm Tells You - Ever wake up 30 minutes before your alarm goes off and think to yourself that if you feel pretty good now, you're going to feel even better with another half-hour of rest when you have to actually get out of bed? It never works that way, though. You go back to bed, sleep through your alarm, and wake up an hour late feeling like your cat's been walking on your face all night: puffy-eyed and exhausted. For complex reasons involving sleep cycles and psychology, that extra bit of not-quite-sleep does your energy more harm than good. The same thing goes for the snooze button; pushing it every nine minutes until the last possible second before you're late for work doesn't get you more rest. It just gets you more grumpy.
6) Go Easy On Your Blood Sugar - Every parent knows what birthday cake does to their kids. It makes them tired, cranky, and totally unpleasant. It does the same thing to you. So go easy on your blood sugar. Avoid simple carbohydrates--including your morning donut fix--and after you make it through a couple days of cravings, enjoy the extra energy you get from stepping off the blood sugar rollercoaster.
7) Talk to a Real Live Adult Human - Our brains respond differently to the stimulation provided by face-to-face interactions than to virtual conversations. Give yours some new input and see how a good conversation or even just a friendly exchange with a stranger can liven up your day and freshen up your perspective.
8) Have Some Fun - True story: laughter burns more calories than no laughter. Just a few minutes of fun can refresh your brain and revitalize your body. So the next time your boss catches you watching a video about funny pygmy goats, tell her you're doing essential prep for that big client meeting this afternoon.
9) Schedule Some Wins, and Remember to Notice Them - You know that little boost you get when you check something off your to-do list or accomplish a long-delayed task? Make that feeling work in your favor by pre-planning some satisfying wins every day and take a second to notice the things that you otherwise do without thinking. Whether it's putting away all the laundry, sending that email you've been putting off, or getting to bed on time, take the time to acknowledge your accomplishment and appreciate the pep it puts in your next few steps.
10) Try Some Strategic Scents - Aromatherapy is officially a Very Big Deal. And while everyone responds differently, try experimenting with some of the many scents widely reported to help wake you up and keep you going. Try a candle or some essential oil in peppermint, a citrus like lemon or orange, or a bracing dose of eucalyptus. Almost any fragrance could help you get that energy boost, based on your biology and background, but you'll probably want to try your floral options last. After all, there's a reason so many relaxation products smell like lavender.