Our relationship with coffee falls into the “tumultuous” category. Like a drug, we love how one sip can make us feel so good and get us so high. (The buzz! Oh, the buzz.) But how quickly things unravel—a few hours later, we’re usually feeling cracked-out and nauseous. Straight back to the kitchen we go. It’s a vicious cycle, and it seems like every few weeks, we vow to swear off coffee forever. We’ve tried alternatives, but then we got to thinking—what about ways to boost our energy that don’t require caffeine? After all, it’s the caffeine itself that’s contributing to our cracked-out dispositions, not the delicious roasted coffee beans. (Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves… #denial.) Ahead, you’ll find five easy ways to boost your energy that don’t involve any caffeine—or what we’re calling the caffeine hater’s guide to staying awake. Keep scrolling to see them all!
Studies have shown that feeling awake and alert is strongly influenced by exposure to light along with your circadian rhythm. Enter the blue light, your new favorite desk-side accessory. Linked to suppressing melatonin (a hormone your body needs for a restful night’s sleep), blue light can actually help you sleep better when used during the day, according to this study. Another study by the Lighting Research Center found that red and blue light increased alertness and reduced sleepiness in the 22 subjects after just an hour. Plus, blue light has long been used to treat seasonal affective disorder by mimicking outdoor light and improving your mood.
Feeling the afternoon slump? Just chew some gum. A recent British study found that gum can boost your alertness, your attention span, and even your mood. Chewing gum increases your heart rate and cortisol levels, both of which are linked to energy. We’re reaching for our Wrigley’s as we type…
Brain fog is a real problem—luckily, a short, brisk walk should bring you back to your clear-headed, energetic state in a snap. Physical activity boosts your heart rate, metabolism, and blood flow—all things that can help ward off fatigue. One study found that regular 20-minute walks decreased severe fatigue in cancer patients, while another found that the act of walking boosts creativity too. Bonus: It also happens to be a great way to ward off sugar cravings.
Here’s a thought: You should start your morning commute with a big ol’ Adele-inspired belting. Pick a song, any song—research shows that crooning one song left subjects feeling more energetic than those who only listened. Singing not your thing? Tapping along to a song can have a similar effect. Hello, from the other side…
Ear massages—not the most mainstream of methods, but traditional Chinese medicine says it’s a surefire way to boost your energy levels. Starting at the top of your ears, slowly and gently rub your ears with your thumb on one side and your pointer finger on the other. Supposedly, this helps get the energy flowing in your “acupressure meridians”—yes, it sounds weird, but we’re giving it a try nonetheless (and hope our colleagues won’t judge us).
Have you tried any of these caffeine-free energy boosters? How do you snap out of a midday slump? Sound off below!
This post was originally published on November 5, 2015.