Coffee, energy drinks, and over-the-counter energy supplements—these morning perks are extremely important to some people. Waking up and heading to the office without them would be disastrous, to the point where it wouldn’t be worth coming in at all.
Unfortunately, while the quick rush of energy generally does the trick and livens you up for a bit, the afternoon crash is another hump to overcome, the remedy usually manifesting in the form of more caffeine, more energy drinks, etc. Then your tolerance grows. Where one coffee used to work for you, now you need two.
This progression is certainly not sustainable, and becomes increasingly more unhealthy as time goes on.
If you’re looking for a few ways to naturally stay energized that will keep your mind alert and your body in check, here are a few ways to get the job done.
1. Don’t Skip Your Coffee, But Stay Hydrated
There’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning. About 83 percent of adults drink coffee in the U.S., according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 survey. A lot can change in five years, but it’s doubtful that those numbers have gone down—and that’s not a bad thing as long as coffee is consumed in moderation.
Coffee and a little bit of caffeine can actually be good thing for you. According to Joseph Norqvist, writing for Medical News Today, the potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include protection from type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, liver disease, and helps promote a healthy heart. Coffee can also be used to increase athletic performance, believe it or not.
The trick, once again, is moderation, and making sure you stay hydrated. For every cup of coffee that you drink, also drink one glass of water. One of the reasons that the afternoon slump comes about is because of dehydration, leading to fatigue and restricted oxygen flow throughout the body. The more dehydrated you are, the more fatigued you will likely feel. Stay hydrated, and stay energized.
2. Organize Your Day and Set Achievable Goals
Now that you’ve got your cup of coffee (and your glass of water!), make sure that you know where you’re going with your day. Mentally prepare by visualizing what you’re going to do throughout the day, and you’ll notice that your goals don’t suddenly seem so big.
This works because those feeling unmotivated or plagued by a lack of energy in the office are usually dealing with minor levels of work-related anxiety or stress.
“Similar to practicing better time management skills, planning out your work in advance can sometimes help you better manage your anxiety.” writes Katie McBeth with Fiscal Tiger. “Additionally, setting micro-goals (small, achievable tasks) can help you feel less overwhelmed by big projects”
Try setting and achieving attainable goals as a self-propelling motivational tactic. You’ll notice that, when you complete a task, your brain releases the chemicals that are responsible for happiness and feelings of reward: dopamine and serotonin. The more work you see yourself getting work done, the more accomplished and happy you’ll feel, which leads to wanting to get all of your work done.
Like business owner Manasa Reddigari writes, “setting unachievable goals is a surefire way to demotivate employees.” On the other hand, setting goals that you can achieve almost always ensures that you will.
3. Pay Attention to Sleep and Exercise
Instead of going to the break room to refill your coffee, try going outside and getting some fresh air. Getting your heart rate up, even for just a few minutes, is a great way to get your blood flowing, re-energize, and is an effective way to combat an afternoon crash. As soon as it sets on, get up and walk around for a quick 5 or 10 minutes, and you’ll feel physically and mentally renewed in no time—extend that to 15 minutes, and you’re looking at extending your life by three years!
On the flip side of activity is, obviously, inactivity. Unfortunately, too many people aren’t being as inactive as they should be, specifically in the way of sleeping. There are many different opinions on what the ideal amount of sleep is, and it’s going to vary from person to person and from experience to experience, but most experts agree that adults should be aiming for around seven to nine hours a night. Not enough can cause you to feel a huge dip in energy throughout the day, and can even lead to depression.
Try to go to sleep the same time every night. Running on a consistent sleep schedule and setting a nice circadian rhythm will help you feel more revitalized than constant or random fluctuation will. If that means you have to save the dishes for the next day, so be it; you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
4. Make an Effort to Enjoy Yourself
Even if work isn’t the most ideal place to “enjoy yourself,” invest time in finding little things that lift your mood even slightly. Music, micro-breaks spent browsing the internet, and even simple work-based conversations around the watercooler can all add up, increase serotonin and dopamine count, and keep you energized and motivated throughout the day. It’s amazing how shifting your focus to something you enjoy thinking about, even if just for a brief moment, can help make you feel a bit more lively at the end of the day.
While feeling tired, worn-out, and lethargic can make surviving a day at work feel impossible to get through, most of the time it’s work-related stress, which is normal to experience and completely manageable. On the other hand, you might find that it’s your job making you unhappy, and that it’s time to change careers to something that intrinsically motivates and energizes you. CompTIA offers a free quiz designed to address just that, which you can find here.
The good news is that most people simply need to drink a little more water, set better organized and more attainable goals, and to pay attention to sleep, exercise, and happiness. There are other ways to naturally increase energy throughout your day, including a change in your diet, so this list is by no means extensive. Follow these tips, and experiment with your own energy increasing tactics, and you’ll find yourself more naturally energized and motivated throughout your day.