Between work, classes and socialising, life can get pretty hectic. In response, we often rely on caffeinated drinks to keep us going. Sure, everyone knows that caffeine can give you a much-needed jolt, but at what cost? It can also cause headaches, breakouts and mood swings, just to name a few negative side effects. The good news: there are better, healthier ways to get energy without all that caffeine clogging your system.
Image by Nasrul (Shutterstock).
Have a Protein-Filled Snack
Feeling drowsy? Nosh on a protein-packed snack. This is a simple but effective way to keep yourself going throughout the day. Think crunchy apple slices with creamy peanut butter, turkey roll-ups with string cheese, or almonds and dried fruit. If you're crunched for time, pick up a smoothie with a protein boost -- most places offer free "boosts". Jamba Juice has a great energy one that has B vitamins in it to help physical and mental stamina. Bonus: it helps your metabolism too!
Pop a B Vitamin
Vitamin B deficiency has been linked to low energy levels, among other things. In fact, mood changes, poor concentration, anxiety and depression can all be signs of a vitamin B deficiency. So if you're feeling tired regularly, try popping a B-complex vitamin. Most grocers and health food stores carry a variety of brands that you can choose from. Another option is to take a multivitamin, which will help ensure that you're not deficient in other minerals or nutrients. For the best results, take your multivitamin during a meal -- preferably breakfast. According to NutriHealth, the nutrients are better absorbed when mixed with the healthy fat in your food.
Try a Quick Workout
When you're tired, hitting the gym is the last thing you want to do. But studies show that a short sweat session can kick up your energy levels for the rest of the day. According to Fitness Magazine, you don't need to pound the treadmill for an hour -- a quick jog around the block will do. Feeling unmotivated? Pop in some headphones, cue up your favourite upbeat tunes and hit the pavement! If you want to stay in your room, a quick set of 25 jumping jacks can help give you a boost.
Take a Cold Shower
Hot showers are the best for relaxing and winding down. But if your goal is to do the opposite, consider changing the temperature. Cold water stimulates your system and speeds up circulation, resulting in a more alert you. Don't want to give up the soothing heat completely? Try taking a regular shower, then cooling it down for the last five minutes or so. It'll still do wonders for your mental awareness. Really not into the cold shower thing? Splash cold water on your face for a midday refresher.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
According to Terri Fant-Franklin, a nutritionist at Kaiser Permanente, changing your eating habits can greatly increase your energy levels. "Having smaller, more frequent meals will keep your calorie flow at a more even pace which helps with energy," Fant-Franklin says. Heavy meals often leave us feeling drowsy, while smaller portions can have the opposite effect. Try to avoid sugary drinks, which are often loaded with caffeine and additives. Chances are you'll end up crashing later.
Go to Sleep 20 Minutes Earlier
It's easy to procrastinate during the day and put off projects until the wee hours of the night. But this pushes your bedtime back later and later. Before you know it, you wake up on four hours' worth of sleep, tired and cranky. Let's just say that this situation is less than ideal. But there's a simple and effective way to change your habits. Instead of being unrealistic and wishing you could sleep through that 7am alarm, take action the night before. Aim to hit the sack 20-30 minutes earlier and chances are, you'll end up getting significantly more sleep.
Go for a Walk
Taking a brisk stroll has similar effects to working out. According to WebMD, moving your body (even at a slow pace) will have you feeling more alert in just minutes. Worried you'll get bored? Grab your camera and snap photos of the beautiful foliage you see along the way. You can also incorporate this tip into your daily routine by walking instead of taking the bus or driving. Bonus: a leisurely walk is great for clearing up brain fog, which can result from hours spent at a desk or too much computer time. So next time you need a break from doing work or studying, head outside.
Get a (Reflexology) Massage
In the practice of reflexology, your hands and feet are filled with pressure points that relate to specific areas of the body. For example, the top part of your thumbs correlates with your pituitary gland. Massages generally leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, but reflexology takes things one step further and pinpoints specific areas that need work. According to The American Reflexology Certification Board, the practice helps restore balance to the body. Try making an appointment with a specialist or give yourself a quick massage (or recruit a friend to) for a DIY midday pick-me-up. Apply pressure to the different areas on your hands and feet, alternating to stimulate multiple organs. It will double as a mental break, preparing you for the rest of your busy day!
Talk It Out
Next time you're feeling down and tired, try talking to a friend. Studies show that chatting can help make you feel more alert. Being socially disconnected can trickle into other areas of your life, resulting in negative thoughts and lower levels of productivity. Catching up on gossip will pique your interest and keep you going. Friends too busy to talk? Calling someone works too. Dial your mum's mobile phone and catch up on the latest family news.
The mind is a powerful tool. It's been proven that visualisation exercises can help bring you closer to achieving your goals. A recent Miller-McCune article discusses the many benefits of meditation. Next time you're feeling zapped for energy, try this simple exercise: sit on a chair with your back straight and your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and envision yourself feeling positive and energised. Take deep breaths and keep your posture strong. Before long, you'll have an increased sense of mental and physical awareness.
10 Ways To Get Energy Without Caffeine [Her Campus]
Dani Wong is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, where she is double majoring in media studies and journalism. Her true loves include travelling, taking photographs, playing sports and anything food-related.