6 CAFFEINE – FREE WAYS TO STAY PERKED UP… EVEN WHEN THE DAYS GET SHORTER!!!
When your energy level falls into the red zone, you probably reach for our culture’s quick fix: caffeine. But, mainlining caffeine isn’t the only way to perk up. Try these natural, science-backed methods to rise and shine when your fourth cup isn’t cutting it—or if you just want to try a chemical-free high.
The days are getting shorter…but your energy levels needn’t ebb along with them. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should pound back venti coffees all day to stay awake, though. In fact, it’s probably best to skip the coffee altogether: One study found that a caffeine boost even six hours before bed can disrupt sleep. Here are 6 ways to recharge your mojo:
- FREEZE YOUR BUTT OFF – End your shower with a two-minute blast of cold water. Beyond eliciting a few choice swear words, cooler temps can wake up a sluggish mind, research shows. If a full-body is too much to handle, start by splashing frigid H2O on just your face.
- POP SOME GUM – Chewing a stick increases alertness—without the sugar crash that follows a trip to the vending machine. In studies, gum chompers had quicker reaction times, more-focused attention, and even a better mood. The chewing motion may increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Use it strategically, though; your new superpowers are good for only about 15 minutes.
- SWAP CAFFEINE FOR CARBS – For sustained energy, you need grub, not another cup of joe. “Only calories give real energy,” says nutritionist Keri Glassman, R.D. “You need carbs and fiber to control blood sugar, plus protein and healthy fat to keep you full.” Try a baked sweet potato with a tablespoon of chopped nuts, or a slice of Ezekiel toast with avocado.
- MASSAGE YOUR EARS – This one’s a little wonky, but trust us, when you’re dragging, you’ll be all ears: Applying pressure to the outer rim of your ear may help invigorate your entire body, says Dr. Teitelbaum. That’s because all of your body’s “acupressure meridians”—that is, your energy pathways—pass through your outer ear. “Massaging the ear unites all of the meridians, and gets the energy flowing,” he says. Simply pinch the rim of each ear between your thumb and pointer finger, and rub up and down for 10 to 30 seconds.
- BELT OUT YOUR FAVORITE SONG – Ever noticed how cranking up the radio makes you drive faster? That’s because music is energizing—especially if you sing along. Researchers in London found that singing solo increases energetic arousal and decreases tension nearly as much as a cardio workout. “You disconnect from the big U-Haul of worries that people carry around with them,” explains Dr. Teitelbaum. “You’re just being free for a while.” Choose a tune that really engages you—the one that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs. Then sing it, sister! Bonus if you get out of your chair for your solo: Dr. Caldwell’s research shows that standing up can provide an instant surge of energy.
- LIGHTEN UP – There’s a reason darkness and bedtime go hand-in-hand – Bright light awakens your brain. But not all rays are equally stimulating. A 2013 study from the Lighting Research Center in New York found that red light is a stronger afternoon wake-up call than blue light. However, Dr. Teitelbaum cautions, “With red light, you’ll have more of an irritable, edgy alertness, whereas with blue, you’re going to have more of a calm alertness.” His advice – Install blue bulbs in your desk lamp and save red light for the bedroom, since edgy alertness can translate to sexual energy.
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