It’s 2 in the afternoon and I’m dragging.
Was it the hard workout I did yesterday? Did I eat too much gluten? Perhaps I’m drinking too much caffeine?
Whatever the reason, today I need a pick me up.
Luckily I have plenty of experience with ways to boost my energy.
Next time you are in need of a pick me up, use one (or several!) of these strategies and get some instant energy.
1.) Take a nap
I love taking naps.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends taking a short nap (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefits including improved alertness and performance.
Even better, short naps won’t leave you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
I often take 15-20 minute naps in the early afternoon.
To make your naps even more powerful, ensure a dark, cool and quiet space. Also, combine it with tip #8 in this post.
2.) Drink a glass of water
A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that women who were only mildly dehydrated reported signs of fatigue, loss of focus and low moods.
I find a tall glass of ice water does more to wake me up than a small cup of room temperature stuff.
According to Chris from A Life of Productivity, drinking a big glass of water in the morning will also fire up your metabolism and support brain function!
3.) Exposure to direct sunlight
I lived in Seattle for 14 years. Yes, that means I’m familiar with grey skies!
After a few years of putting up with the drab weather, I invested in a blue light. I would turn it on first thing in the morning for 30 minutes. Then, in the afternoon I would use it again for 30 minutes.
I noticed a meaningful increase in alterness throughout the day with just this one simple life hack.
I use an older version of the Philips GoLITE BLU Energy Light.
4.) Eat something small
Don’t starve yourself if you want to have high levels of energy all day long. If you find yourself falling asleep after meals, try performing this little trick:
Split whatever you are eating into at least two different meals. Let’s suppose you eat a sandwich and bag of baby carrots for lunch at noon. Instead, eat half the meal at 10am and the other half at 2pm.
Your body will have an easier time digesting the meal, with more even blood sugar throughout the day.
5.) Move around
When I worked at Microsoft, we had gorgeous sidewalks and walking paths all around our campus in Redmond, WA.
I would often have one-on-one meetings outdoors, strolling about. Whenever I felt sluggish, I would also sneak outside (when it wasn’t raining!) for a stroll along a wooded trail.
Moving your body is a powerful way to wake you up. Walk in a brisk manner for greatest effect. You should be able to carry on a conversation but still feel like you are putting in some effort.
Can’t go for a walk?
Do some air squats, burpees or climb a few flights of stairs.
6.) Lift something heavy
Next time you lift something heavy – notice how your body feels right after.
After doing heavy deadlifts in the gym I am alert and wide awake. Same is true for doing some heavy yard-work.
If you feel tired, try doing some heavy lifts.
Don’t too much (or you will feel tired). Make sure to use proper form and warm up first.
7.) Listen to something funny
I’m writing this post from Golden, Colorado. They have a radio station here that plays comedy shows all day long.
My wife and I enjoy listening to this station whenever we are communting and don’t have a new podcast cued up.
What’s interesting is that listening to even 5 minutes of funny comedy wakes me right up, and makes the time fly by!
Check out YouTube for some comedic humor next time you feel tired.
8.) Have some coffee or tea
Caffeine isn’t evil, though seems like many blogs out there talk about ways people can give it up! Including me!
In moderation, there are plenty of good things to say about coffee.
When I am tired, caffeine works 🙂 . Though I’m sure you already knew that.
Here’s something you probably don’t know: to maximize the energizing affect of your afternoon coffee break, combine it with tip #1: a nap!
Drink a small cup of coffee, then take a 20 minute nap. When you wake up, notice how alert and rested you feel. This is my FAVORITE life hack for boosting my energy. It works well.
Stress and excessive thinking is a huge energy drain. Even if you aren’t a regular meditator you can benefit from just sitting still.
Find a quiet place. Sit still. Close your eyes. Focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath. If you get distracted by thinking, don’t worry about it. Just keep coming back to your breath.
Do this for 10 minutes.
The more you perform this exercise, the more powerful it becomes. You will notice less attachment to your thoughts, and less stress. Less thinking and less stress = more energy to use on productive things!
For some more tips on how to meditate, check out my earlier blog post.
10.) Breathe your way to instant energy
There are scientific benefits to proper breathing.
Unfortunately, most people, particularly in western culture, do not know how to breath.
The proper way to breathe is strictly through your nose, in a shallow and rhythmic manner. Read about the proven benefits of nasal breathing in my earlier post.
At a basic level, just take 10 slow and intentional breaths in and out through your nose. This will go a long way to support proper oxygen uptake from your lungs to your blood. Hold your breath for 1-2 seconds on the inhale and exhale.
For an even bigger energizing benefit, practice the Nadi Shodhana technique.
11.) Do something new
Take a new route home from school or work. Go to a new grocery store. Try a different variety of tea or coffee. Explore a different type of workout.
Boredom or sticking to too familiar a routine often cause sluggishness.
Mix it up. Engage your brain and body in some new activity.
You will find yourself more awake, and you just might learn something in the process!