It's two o'clock and you are starting to feel the usual energy fade. You decide it is time for the pleasant jolt that only a strong cup of mocha java will provide. But is it really that wise to rely on coffee to give us an instant boost of energy every day? We know that caffeine is not always that great for us, and we also know that a cup of coffee at two or three o'clock might get us through the workday but may fail us as the evening hours arrive. You may lose steam even as you make your way to the parking lot or drive home.
Even worse, that cup of coffee may even cause us to experience a disruption in sleep that makes the next day even more "coffee reliant". Though experts do tell us that coffee does have many antioxidants, there have to be less stimulating ways to enjoy good health as well as good energy.
So, what are some good and effective ways to regain your zing without a trip to the coffee pot? The following five techniques may surprise you, but they are also proven to energize.
- Engage the brain - We have all been told that "switching gears" can help to clear the mind. This is why we might switch to a different task when we feel our attention slipping or we start to lose focus. However, a former NASA researcher discovered that the more activity you use, the more alertness results. (Prevention.com) This is why he suggested that people experiencing fatigue keep learning materials on hand. For instance, if you find that your 3pm burst of fatigue is getting harder to overcome - simply keep a language learning tape, a text book, or some other learning material nearby. When you feel tired, switch gears and give your brain a virtual slap that brings it back to awareness.
- Try ear massage - Yes, you did read that correctly. Simply applying pressure along the outermost edge of the ear actually stimulates the body. This is related directly to acupressure and uses what are commonly called meridian points or pathways for the body's energy. Whether you believe in alternative medicine or not, this is one technique that has a proven track record for success. To do it effectively you must use your thumb and index fingertips to pinch the rim of the ear and then rub them in an up and down movement for 30 seconds each. If you are doing it right now, be prepared to feel very alert in the next few minutes!
- Use blue light bulbs - As odd as this sounds, a study done by the Lighting Research Center in New York revealed that red and blue light stimulate the brain and can really issue an afternoon wakeup call to anyone feeling drowsy or fatigued. The problem with red light, though, is that it seemed to cause irritability and edginess in most test subjects while the blue lights created alertness accompanied by a sense of calm. You can find such light bulbs in almost any home improvement store.
- Pack whole grains at breakfast - Nutritional experts all agree that whole grains deliver a nice, slow burn of consistent energy to the body in a way that processed grains (like white flour) cannot. However, too many of them actually make the body sluggish. So, if you want to give yourself a good boost of energy that lasts through many hours of the day, try "front loading" your food intake with whole grains at breakfast. An ideal example would be a piece of whole grain toast, a serving of a whole grain cereal and a good serving of protein. You will feel totally energized and not the least bit hungry for hours afterward.
- Chewing gum - Studies have proven that people who chew gum for at least 15 minutes experience measurably higher alertness than those who have not chewed gum. Why does it work? Essentially, it increases the flow of blood to the brain by boosting the heart rate a bit. This little caffeine free trick works especially well when you choose a minty flavor too as mint of any kind stimulates the nervous system and boosts your alertness.
Clearly, there are other more obvious ways to get yourself a bit more alert: splashing water on your face and wrists, running up and down some stairs, singing loudly for a few minutes, and doing some mindful breathing. However, these tend to deliver instant results that fade almost as fast as they started. The five methods we have outlined above give you a much longer period of wakefulness that will help you finish the work day, complete the drive home, and even make and clean up dinner without lagging in energy at all.