Getting through the work day is something we all struggle with from time to time. Whether it’s being half-asleep in the morning meeting or battling that afternoon slump, we’ve got some caffeine-free solutions to your work-fatigue.
1. Move Your Body
Many of our jobs involve sitting at our desks all day long. While you can’t roam around freely in such an environment, you can find ways to wake your body up while you’re sat down.
Start with some gentle shoulder rolls, scrunching them up to your eyes and rolling them in a big circle.
As you roll them down, imagine you’re creating space between your ears and shoulders – you’ll feel more open and more awake!
Just shaking your legs out and rotating your ankles a few times can wake your body up.
If you often find yourself slumping in your chair, sit up straight and try to stand up every 30 minutes, even if it’s just to wiggle around quickly before sitting back down.
2. Take Advantage Of Your Breaks
It can be easy to stay tied to your desk on your breaks if you’re running behind with work, but it’s important to take time out when you can.
You’ll find yourself falling asleep if you’re in the same place for too long, so try to make the most of your breaks.
If you have an outdoor space, take your lunch outside and get some fresh air. You’ll perk up immediately! Take a lap around the building and change your environment.
Part of why we get so tired at work is because we’re stationary and stuck in one place. When you can, take the opportunity to escape your cubicle and get a change of scenery – you’ll be amazed at what it does for your headspace.
3. Ignore The Clock
‘A watched pot never boils’ – we’ve all heard this expression, but it doesn’t stop us staring longingly at the clock, desperately willing the hands to move more quickly.
Focusing on five-minute shifts in your day will make the whole day feel like it’s dragging.
Instead of checking the clock constantly, stick a Post-it note over the time-display on your computer.
At first, you’ll find yourself constantly lifting it up to check. After a while, you’ll get used to working unrestricted, without always focusing on the time.
Instead of monitoring your work and how much time you have left at work, you’ll learn to just get on with it. Before you know it, afternoons will feel shorter and you’ll be more efficient in your work-life.
4. Lift Your Mood
Never underestimate the power of music! Sticking on an upbeat playlist and plugging in your headphones is a great way to lift your mood.
Find something that suits your mood and will encourage you to crack on. Don’t let yourself mope with sad music, however. Try listening to rock, power ballads, or 90’s music (or whatever era you’re from).
You’ll quickly find something that works for you and helps power you along the workday.
As a little insider tip, running and workout playlists work really well – you feel like you have to type faster to keep up with the beat and you’ll be woken up and ready to go.
While snacking can be risky, eating small, healthy meals throughout the day is a great way to stay focused and alert.
If you often find yourself feeling tired and weary at work, boost your energy levels with a snack. Fresh fruit and nuts are healthy ways to give yourself a little push.
Green veggies are great for grazing on during the day, as they often contain vitamins that help your body release energy.
Don’t eat so much that you feel overly-full and sleepy – try to eat throughout the day to sustain your sugar levels and keep yourself on an even level.
Make your own energy balls (oats, cocoa powder, peanut butter and honey make a tasty combination) or take vegetable sticks and a dip to snack on.
We all know that staying hydrated is key to living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be hard when you’re at your desk all day.
Air-conditioning can really take its toll on your body, from drying out your eyes and skin to changing your moods. By regularly drinking water, or herbal teas, during the day, you can look after your body and keep yourself alert.
Next time you find your head lulling at the desk, make yourself a cup of green tea or grab a water bottle from the fridge. If you find it hard to drink water, go for sugar-free cordial or sparkling water to mix things up!
7. The Essentials
Where would we be without essential oils? If you don’t currently incorporate them into your life, now’s the time to start.
There are so many different oils that all have different properties and benefits. While there are classic scents like lavender to lull us to sleep, there are oils that can be used during the day to perk us up.
Citrussy scents like sweet orange and lemon are invigorating and help us become more alert – that’s why so many shower gels use zingy, citrus aromas.
Peppermint is another great scent when it comes to waking yourself up a bit, as the science backs up – it’s fresh enough to perk you up without being overpowering for everyone else in the office.
You can take small bottles of the oils to the office to inhale, or make your own balm using the oil and a carrier oil, such as coconut oil.
Make sure you pay attention to any advice given on the bottles, as many oils have to be diluted by the carrier oil before you can apply them to your skin!
Good mornings start with good coffee, right? Yes, to an extent, but coffee can also lead to bad afternoons.
Caffeine is fantastic at giving us that quick hit of energy that gets us to the office. What it’s not so great at is maintaining energy levels.
The unstable release of caffeine can leave us in a huge slump once it wears off, making us even more tired and drained.
Instead of giving your mind and body sudden rushes of energy, and sudden lows, swap to herbal teas and soft drinks. Avoid anything sugary to drink as this can also cause energy spikes.
Your breath does more than you think! By focusing on your breathing, you can find ways to send energy to different parts of your body, helping to keep you alert and focused.
While meditation might seem a little bit too far in the workplace, there are easy ways to work on your breathing while you’re at your desk.
Really focus on your breath as you exhale and inhale through your nose – you will be able to feel your breath against your nostrils.
Pay attention to this and tune in to the small details of your body – how your feet feel on the floor and how your limbs feel as you’re sat down.
By bringing awareness to your body, you’ll be able to wake it up and shift your mindset to one of alertness and readiness.
Meditating at work is tricky, so save this for your break. There’s a fantastic app called Headspace that offers short meditation sessions, focusing on everything from motivating yourself at work to getting to sleep more easily.
We’d suggest avoiding the second one while you’re at work…
These short sessions can give you the boost you need to get through the day, so aim to practice them while you’re on your non-coffee break or lunch break.
You’ll only need ten minutes, so set the time aside and commit. These will leave you feeling more awake and ready to take on the day.
Again, this kind of thing is semi-determined by your work environment.
Interacting and communicating with people face-to-face is a really important aspect of daily life, so it’s no surprise that we can get down and sleepy when we’re not doing these things.
Find ways to chat to your co-workers, even if it’s just by offering to make them a hot drink.
Take advantage of any breaks when you can – get some fresh air and have a natter with your work friends. If you can’t do this, try to listen to a podcast while you work.
Music is great for lifting your mood, but sometimes you need to hear a voice! By focusing on words that someone is saying rather than getting lulled by a regular rhythm or beat, you’ll be able to focus more and will perk up in no time.
TED talks are a really good option for work-listening, as they’re normally very motivational and uplifting – just what you need.
111/2. Bonus Round
I know we said no caffeine, but there is a healthier way to get your buzz if coffee leaves you with palpitations.
Matcha is the way forward – a slow-release green tea powder that makes a tasty drink. It contains caffeine, but doesn’t give you those horrible highs and lows that your morning cappuccino does.
If you’ve tried our other suggestions and are still finding it hard to power through the day, consider making yourself a matcha latte – just microwave milk, add in some powder, stir and enjoy.
Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.