We all love coffee, but some of us love coffee a little bit too much. If you’ve come to rely on it as the only way to really wake up, it’s time you stopped and smelled the beans. Coffee should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet where it’s consumed because it’s appreciated, rather than simply to help beat lethargy. If you’re feeling tired, sluggish, and less than sharp, there are plenty of other ways to give yourself an energy boost. Here are a few to try.
Take a Walk
It might sound counterintuitive to exercise when you’re tired, but once you get past that first hump, the movement will actually re-energize your body. It’s not just the endorphin boost and the fact that it gets your blood pumping that makes this one of the best ways to fight fatigue; getting in more consistent exercise will also help you sleep more soundly at night, decreasing your overall day-to-day tiredness. If you can’t bear to hit the gym, just take a walk instead. Movement is still movement, and getting outside for some fresh air will do you good as well.
When we’re tired, we often tend to scrunch our bodies up, which in turn places more physical strain and stress on us, which then leads to even more mental exertion, which leaves us even more tired. It’s a vicious cycle, but stretching will help to get your blood moving again and release some of this tension, effectively waking you up a little bit. Some great yoga poses to boost your energy include fish pose, camel pose, triangle pose, half-moon pose, bridge pose, and lotus pose. Yogic alternate-nostril breathing can also help.
Most of us slump when we’re tired, but did you know that poor posture can make you feel even more fatigued? Indeed, it takes more energy to loll around with our spine out of alignment than it does to sit more efficiently. This is because, when we aren’t aligned, our muscles have to work harder to keep things in place, which uses up more energy. If your shoulders are up by your ears, pull them down and back, and take a deep breath. Pull your belly button in, and try to sit up. You don’t have to act like you’re at a school assembly, but if anything, sitting more upright will help you digest food better (which also makes you less tired) and breathe more easily.
Eat the Right Foods
Coffee isn’t the only thing you can consume to perk yourself up. For a pick-me-up that provides the right dose of glucose without spiking your blood sugar, team foods that are good sources of natural sugars with something that contains clean fats and protein, like Greek yogurt and berries or apple slices with almond butter.
Drink Something Else
If it’s the habit of drinking something you’re struggling to break, why not try a different beverage? You can opt for tea with lower levels of caffeine or a caffeine-free option such as rooibos. Alternatively, a glass of ice-cold water can do the trick by simultaneously giving your body a boost and providing hydration, which can help you feel less tired. Dehydration is a leading contributor to fatigue.
Set a Goal
It’s easy to run out of steam when you don’t know where your train is headed. Set yourself some goals throughout the day, and then, every time you’ve completed one, you can take a short break, whether that’s five minutes to check in on Instagram or read an article from your favorite news site, catch up on gossip with your work bestie, or even do an artistic doodle on your notepad. It’ll keep your brain focused on completing whatever it is you’re doing so that you can enjoy a really invigorating break when it’s time for your reprieve.
Try Some Grounding
Grounding – also known as “earthing” – is the practice of taking off your shoes for your bare feet to connect with the ground, be that on sand, grass, soil, or in water. It’s been shown to have countless benefits, from anti-inflammation and improved immune function to a better mood, and it’s also been found to help reduce stress and fight fatigue. The fact that you’ll have to stand outdoors to do this will also deliver a good dose of fatigue-fighting sunshine and fresh air.
Take a Shower
Sure, a cold shower will wake you up instantly – the sudden temperature drop will certainly increase your levels of alertness – but it’s not for everyone. If you can’t bear a cold shower, try alternating between a warmer and cooler temperature for a few seconds each.
Smell Essential Oils
The proven benefits of essential oils include stress fighting and mood boosting, which can help you feel less lethargic. Some particularly notable options when you’re seeking something uplifting include rosemary, citrus, cinnamon, thyme, and peppermint.
Identify the (Real) Cause
Chronic fatigue isn’t caused by just one restless night; it’s often due to a more deep-rooted issue. Try journaling or doing some meditation and inner work in order to find the root cause of what you’re feeling. If something really is wrong, it may be causing an unnecessary drain on your energy that results in this mental fatigue, which can undoubtedly exhibit itself through physical fatigue in your waking, conscious, everyday life. Once you discover what this is, you can tackle it, enjoying better-quality sleep, less underlying stress and anxiety, and less of a drain on both your waking and sleeping energy levels.
Ride the Natural Slump Wave
Think of your brain like a computer – after it’s been running on high power all day, it’s going to want to suspend for a minute. Because of our circadian rhythms, it’s natural for us to reach some point in the day where our energy levels are going to dip. Check the lighting levels in the room you’re in as well; by the late afternoon, the amount of natural sunlight filtering into a room will take a dip, and our bodies typically associate less light with “time for sleep”. Remembering to flick on a few more bulbs around that time will help stop your eyelids from growing heavy and perk you right up. Meditation is also a great way to give your brain some down time.
Take a Nap
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to fight tiredness, we’re still knackered. That’s probably because – wait for it – we are actually tired. Really tired. In which case, the best cure really is sleep. Opt for a solid, extensive period of sleep and consider going all out with a bath beforehand, soothing lavender oil sprinkled on your pillow, and no electronics around you as part of a relaxing wind-down regime. If that has to wait a while, take a nap. Even if it’s a short one, it will allow some time for your body to repair itself and power up while you’re in “suspend” mode so that you can function better when you’re wide awake and at full power.