Five Caffeine-Free Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels at Work

10/12/2015 10:19 GMT | Updated 09/12/2016 10:12 GMT

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No matter how much energy you bounce out of bed with in the morning, there's always that one point during the day where your eyelids start to droop and sleeping at your desk begins to seem like an appealing option.

But while your initial reaction is probably to reach for the coffee pot or down a quick energy drink, caffeine isn't an ideal long-term solution for flagging energy levels, and too much of it can even have unpleasant consequences like heartburn, restlessness and anxiety, or in severe cases, increased blood pressure and stomach ulcers.

So if you've reached your daily caffeine allowance, which according to Mayo Clinic is about 400 mg or roughly four cups of coffee, here are five alternative ways to stay alert and energized all day long.

1. Eat for energy

What you eat can drastically affect how you feel, so if you often feel drowsy or listless at work, adding foods that are rich in protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates to your diet could do the trick.

Avocadoes, almonds, mushrooms, yogurt, salmon, spinach, sweet potatoes and legumes like lentils or chickpeas are all high energy foods that will keep you going, so try to find ways to work them into your meals and snacks.

The size of your meals can also affect your energy levels, because larger meals of 500 calories or more take more energy to digest. Research shows that when you've eaten a large meal, more blood is directed to the digestive system. This causes your heart rate to slow down and your muscles to relax, which can leave you feeling sleepy.

So rather than eating one large meal at midday, try eating a smaller snack every couple of hours and having a lighter lunch to avoid the afternoon slump.

2. Inject some humour into your day

One quick way to get your energy levels back up is to enjoy something humorous, whether it's a funny YouTube video or a joke shared with a co-worker.

As crazy as it might sound, an Indiana University study found that after watching amusing cat videos online, people reported feeling more energetic and positive and also had fewer negative emotions such as anxiety and annoyance.

In another study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln people felt more energetic after watching a 12-minute Bill Cosby comedy routine. So next time you need a quick pick-me-up, find something humorous to lighten your mood.

3. Chew some gum

Chewing a stick of gum is an excellent way to get a quick energy boost when you can't leave your desk, as numerous studies have shown that chewing gum can have cognitive benefits.

One study from Coventry University found that people felt dramatically less sleepy and more alert after chewing mint gum, and in a study carried out at St Lawrence University in New York, students who chewed gum significantly outperformed those who didn't in five out of six tests.

4. Take a nature break or just go for a walk

Being indoors and sitting in more or less the same position all day can certainly make you feel less than energetic, so rather than taking your break in the cafeteria or worse yet, eating at your desk, why not head outside for a quick stroll and a breath of fresh air?

Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science found that a taking 30-minute walk helped sedentary office workers to feel more enthusiastic, less tense and better able to cope with the demands at work.

Research also shows that taking short 'micro breaks' to look at nature can boost attention levels and one study in particular found that brief walks in a natural environment can ease brain fatigue and restore drifting attention.

But even if there's no nature in the vicinity of your office, taking a walk around the block and having a change of scenery can still be beneficial.

5. Sit up straight

Research has shown that simply adjusting your posture can have a big impact on your mood and energy levels. One study from San Francisco State University found that choosing a more upright position can improve both mood and energy levels, while an Ohio State University study showed that sitting up straight can boost self-confidence.

With this in mind, if you're feeling a little tired but can't justify taking a break just yet, check your posture and make sure you're sitting up straight with your shoulders back and your feet flat on the ground.

Also, check that your monitor is correctly positioned with the screen directly in front of you at eye level. This will prevent you from having to bend your neck or hunch over while you work.